Three words one definitely never wants to hear are “emergency dental work.” Basically what happened is that my lower front teeth have been crowding together for a while. I knew this, they’ve become harder to floss in recent years, the front four so tight that flossing was pretty much out of the question. The middle left tooth eventually cracked from the pressure of the teeth on either side of it. Sometime early Monday morning, I bit down hard in my sleep (something I’ve done for years as stress reaction, not grinding, just biting down hard) and broke the tooth. I hauled myself to the emergency room at the dental school where they told me the tooth had to come out immediately. And by immediately she meant 15 minutes after I got there and the x-rays came back. Suffice to say I was pretty much in state of shock or panic through the entire procedure. One of the first things they did was check my blood pressure (108/73 very much normal) and then when they started the extraction my heart started racing and I kept trying to distract myself by wondering what the difference in blood pressure was during a panic reaction. It was pretty awful in way I’m not sure I can really express in writing.
So I spent most of Monday with my mouth full of gauze either sleeping or crying. Apparently there is some bone loss under the four front teeth. This is, I guess, the result of not having flossed well there (always floss, kids, if it won’t fit between your teeth go to the orthodonist). Today I go to the regular dentist for comprehensive exam where presumably I will find out if the teeth on either side of the now missing one are strong enough to support the bridge needed to hold the fake tooth in (I am very anxious about this, as I really don’t want to loose more teeth) and hopefully start the process of getting the fake tooth put in. What this means for me is lots and lots of dentist appointments in coming days/weeks, lots of money I really don’t have and dealing with my current crisis of vanity.
Don’t get me wrong, the emergency room was really, really traumatizing. Despite their assuance that the pain would go away once they got the tooth out, there has been some pain consistently since yesterday morning. I am having a hard time telling anyone about what happened without bursting into tears. And still half my problem is my vanity. I can’t really deal the fact that I will have to go out in public and talk to people without one of my teeth (the ER told me no fake tooth until the original extraction heals, hopefully the dentist today will tell me that that will be very soon). Also it is really, shockingly uncomfortable to be missing one of your front teeth. It impedes talking and has other somewhat gross side effects I won’t tell you about.
I am trying to retain my sense of humor about the whole thing, but my ability to do that kind of comes and goes. I am hoping that after I go to the dentist this afternoon I will have a better idea of what the future holds for my mouth and can relax a little about all of it. Everyone seems to be assuring me that this kind of horrible, dramatic dental work is par the course in one’s late 30s/early 40s, but man, really? Yikes. I’ve always had pretty good teeth, I am so not prepared to deal with this.