Friday, August 19, 2005

Meditation on a Tooth

Yesterday's dental work, including the extraction of what was left of one ex-tooth, went pretty well. I go back to the dentist in a week to have the stitches out. Still ahead, bridgework where once a tooth stood.

Since yesterday afternoon I've been living on pudding, jello, and 7-Up. But I'm surprised at how little pain I've had from this extraction. That may be due in part to the glories of Tylenol with codeine. But even without that, I doubt I'd be in much pain. Strange. I'd expected worse.

Nonetheless, a procedure like this is something of a shock to the system. I expect I'm pretty much just going to be lying around today— thank God I'm on vacation! I feel just vaguely wiped out, and I slept very little last night.

Getting the remains of a tooth pulled is also a shock to the psyche, at least for me. I've made it to age 49 with all my members intact, and no parts missing. Well, okay, back in my college years I did get my wisdom teeth pulled; but you know, everybody gets their wisdom teeth pulled. (And it laid me up for purner a week, too, it did.) Getting a bicuspid, lower left side, pulled is another matter. In a small but real way, it's a reminder of my mortality— that tooth is gone, it ain't coming back, and so this earthly frame takes one small shuffling step toward entropy and dissolution, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, tooth to whatever medical-waste graveyard yanked teeth end up in.

I've always viewed myself as pretty much self-sustaining and bulletproof. This loss of a tooth gives the lie to that little conceit: if a tooth can go, so can a hipbone, a kidney, or a heart. So the sin of pride is shown up for what it is: "Ye shall be as gods, knowing incisors and molars." No, in truth my teeth will get the better of me at last. I may get that bicuspid back in the last day, when the final trump sounds and the dead are raised. But this side of the eschaton, I shall henceforth have to make do with bridgework.


Anonymous Lucy said...

Dental work will heal EXTEMELY better if you try the following, recommended by the only surgeon willing to try to extract my wisdom tooth that had grown dangerously close to bone and nerves. (Yes, I avoided nerve damage and dry-sockets, thanks to the horridly rude but brilliantly talented doctor).

Apparently there's something in tea that makes the gum tissue heal "cleaner". My tissue even regenerated!

You take regular tea bags (I used Lipton's decaf "orange spice"), dipping them in water to soften them up, and then stick them in your mouth and clamp down so that the tea-bag is pressing against the injured area of your tooth/gum. Do it for a few days, except when you're asleep or you could accidentially choke.

Sure, you'll feel silly with two strings hanging out of your mouth. You might even look like a walrus if you have a tea-bag on each side, which I did. But in the end, you'll have happy teeth and gums.

Oh, and when I got tired of fruit juice and jello, I discovered that I like Campbell's Bean-n-Bacon soup squished in a blender and served with a turkey-baster!

Friday, August 19, 2005 1:38:00 PM  

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