Monday, June 12, 2006

this will make an even 23

As Adrienne had the misfortune to do last week, I too shall be visiting the dentist tomorrow. Not for a cleaning or a filling, but to have a tooth pulled. This will be number 23. Here's my story.......

By the time I was 8 months old I had an uber-healthy mouth with almost all of my baby teeth. I don't have kids but I am sure that is kind of early. My doctor was fairly concerned and had my mom cut back on the boob-food because it seemed I was getting too much nutrition. Crazy, huh? Well the story gets better. By the time I had turned five I had only lost 2 of my baby teeth. When I turned six my parents started to notice a second row of teeth behind my front 4 teeth on the top and the bottom. The dentist referred to it as "shark-teeth!" Kind of tramatizing for a kid of six. Well the front row eventually fell out and I went back to "human boy" and all was well. That was until I started junior high and my parents came to the realization that besides those front teeth, I hadn't lost a single tooth since I was seven years old. In the meantime I had some minor braces put on my upper teeth while in fourth grade. (It may not seem relevant to the story right now, but it will matter when I get to why I'm going tomorrow.)

My parents asked my orthodontist if my mouthful of baby teeth was something to be worried about. As I look back on that now, shouldn't my parents or the orthodontist have taken that thought into consideration before the braces went on? Anyway, back to the story. He of course said yes and proceeded to take multiple x-rays of my mouth. When they developed, the sight was quite shocking. All of my new, adult, permanent teeth were jammed up into the roots of my baby teeth. And of course my baby teeth weren't dying. The only explanation was a higher-than-normal level of tooth-strength which was not allowing my teeth to die. It explained the fact that I never had a cavity, but it was now creating some big problems. So the now larger team of orthodontist, parents, and dentist formulated a new game plan. That plan was to remove all of those baby teeth. The total number that needed removed was 24! And let me say, that is scary for a kid! But it had to be done. And so over the course of the next year, I systematically had 3 or 6 teeth at a time pulled until all of my baby teeth had been removed. I managed to knock 3 loose on my own to lessen some of the torture. So the grand total of teeth I had pulled was 21.

Which brings the story to present day, well two years ago to be exact. I started to have a terrible toothache at the back of my jaw. Since my wife was undergoing her own metalwork to correct her crooked jaw, I shared with her the story I am sharing with you now. And I shared with her the fact that I still had the wrap-around brackets in the back of my mouth that held the wire for the braces that had been re-installed after my permanent teeth grew in. Yes, after almost twenty years I still had the original metal that had been placed in my mouth in fourth grade. Why they had never been removed is a mystery. So my lovely wife asked her orthodontist to take a look at my mouth, which he was generous enough to do. As he removed the brackets, he uncovered a horrible site. Both teeth that the brackets had been placed onto, were completely broken down. Since metal had completely surrounded the tooth, those 2 teeth hadn't been brushed for almost twenty years. The cause of the toothache also became evident as an infection had set into one of the broken teeth.

I made an appointment with a dentist and after an initial consultation, had the infected tooth removed. Due to the breakdown of the tooth, it came out in over fifteen pieces and took over an hour to remove. The dentist informed me the other tooth was even worse in its condition, but since it wasn't infected and I had already been under the knife for an hour, we would do it at another time. Well, due to calendar changes, new jobs, money issues, and many other things, the appointment kept getting pushed back. As luck would have it, the same pain and infection eventually set into the left tooth. So I have broken down and set an appointment, and tomorrow afternoon my magic number will be 23. Through all of this, I can truly say that I do not fear the dentist anymore. Since it always invloves pain of some kind, I've kind of gotten used to it. I know, I'm a freak. But a freak who will still have all but 2 of his teeth at 90 years old!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Sam!

I feel your pain.

Well, not really, 'cause I ain't got supertastic cool empathy powers like a Betazoid or anything, but I can imagine and that is enough.

I still have a few of my baby teeth, too! Except in one instance by grown-up teeth never came in. In that one instance, though, the grown-up tooth came in behind the baby. My dentist pulled the baby tooth when I was about 15. Because my adult tooth wasn't fully formed (it had a dent in the front where the baby tooth had been), it was very prone to cavities and had to be pulled (along with my wisdom teeth and a sixth tooth) two years ago.

I can relate, kind of. But mostly I feel very sorry for you. Oy.

Also, boob-food? I'm never breastfeeding again. :-)

10:20 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh my gosh...I feel like such a gigantic baby whining over a cleaning - no fear though, it won't stop me from whining again next time. That could be a scary movie 5 or something, at least for me. I'm supposed to have some wisdom teeth pulled someday(the denist wanted to get me out of his office before I went into labor this time). However, I plan to let them do whatever they want before I let someone rip them out - and you...23, I am so sorry. And a little bit queasy over the thought.

12:11 PM  
Blogger kimw said...

Oh, oh, oh Sam!
That is probably the craziest tooth story I've ever heard. Not that I've heard that many tooth stories, but if I had, your's would certainly be the craziest.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Kimmy said...

I agree with Kim, that is one crazy tooth story.
Much sympathy to you!

5:27 PM  
Blogger GUYK said...

HOOO BOY! I sure hate to go to a dentist but I have a couple of more that I am gonna have to get pulled. I started losing teeth about six years ago but refused to let them pull them all. When one or two goes bad I get them pulled. Maybe some day I'll get me a full set of false choppers but as long as I have a couple to chew with I am not. Does look kind of like Gabby Hayes when I give a grin and no teeth though.

8:45 AM  

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