Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Year of the Tooth

The past twelve months have found us spending an inordinate amount of time where I least enjoy it -- namely, the dentist's office. To be precise, I should type dentists' offices, plural, and add to that the oral surgeon's office, the orthodontist's office, and, worst of all, the endodontist's office.

Trust me, neither you nor your bank account should hang out in any of these places.

I had a cracked tooth which resulted in a crown followed by a minor breakdown in the endodontist's chair followed by a root canal followed by a second crown followed by the mother of all canker sores and two more breakdowns, one in the dentist's office which resulted in prescription that would deaden any level of mouth pain and probably a compound fracture of the femur and the second one at the pharmacist's counter.

God bless the hapless, baby-faced cashier at Barney's pharmacy who had the misfortune of waiting on Kelly in agony following weeks of dental work. Our interaction ran something like this:

Hapless cashier, Day 1: You're here for The Wonder Drug. Our compounding pharmacist has left for the day. Would you mind coming back tomorrow?
Kelly in Agony, Day 1: ???
Hapless Cashier, Day 2: You're here for The Wonder Drug. Our compounding pharmacist has left for the day. Would you mind coming back tomorrow?
Kelly in Agony, Day 2: ??????
Hapless Cashier, perceptively suspecting that I did, in fact, mind coming back tomorrow: When did you need this?
Kelly in Agony: Yesterday. Y-e-s-t-e-r-d-a-y.
Hapless Cashier: Let me see if the owner is here.

There simply are no words. No words. None.

Meanwhile Tim, aged sixteen, had no twelve-year molars. This wasn't too terribly surprising for the kid who sprouted his first tooth at fourteen months, but a quick x-ray showed wisdom teeth coming in at odd angles and blocking the molars. On to the oral surgeon for an extraction that left us with a dopey but sweet Tim for a few days.

Not one to be left out, Kolbe arrived for his semi-annual dental check with two molars hanging on by a thread. Problem was, a month later they were hanging on by a tad more than a thread. Like Kudzu on a telephone pole, the thread just grew until the day Kolbe ran into our friend Larry who is a dentist. "Hey, Uncle Larry," Kolbe said. "Look at this."

Larry took a quick look and informed me that  those molars were no longer hanging on by any kind of thread. If we wanted them out, they would have to be pulled. So one shot of Novocaine and $250 later, those molars were gone, baby, gone.

Then John got into the action. He had  a loose tooth that seemed to growing less loose by the day. I told him the Tooth Fairy was running a special -- ten bucks a tooth but the offer expired at the end of the week. My kids will do a lot for cold, hard cash. Out came the tooth, and I figure I saved myself $115.

I was determined to avoid dental repairs of all varieties by a simple, two-step method: A mouth-guard at night would help avoid a repeat performance on the cracked tooth and more diligent flossing would do, I don't know, something positive I guess. Right? Because flossing is good for you. Or so they say.

And then my teeth started to throb. Again. And the pain was suspiciously like the pain of the previous year that cost me hours and hours in the dental chair and more cash then I care to calculate. I decided to do the sensible thing and block out the pain through a combination of denial and excessive amounts of Advil.

The pain grew worse as my dental exam drew nigh. At least they'll be impressed with all my flossing, I thought. Not so. I guess my flossing was a little too energetic. I managed to expose roots and this, apparently, is a bad thing. But cheaper than a crown. And much cheaper than a crown plus a root canal plus risking the life of a teenage cashier and all the legal issues that would have entailed.

Ainsley, John, and Kolbe headed to the dentist last week. No cavities! But John has a tooth coming in at a bizarre angle. And it's trapping a baby tooth. And now the baby tooth has to be pulled, and I don't think the Tooth Fairy Special is going to get it to budge. The dentist ran through the arrangements with me including the menu of narcotics that tend to make the process go smoother. I wondered aloud which drugs they offer the mother.

Sadly, the mother gets nothing but the bill.


Kris said...

Your dental issues sound eerily familiar, down to the mouth guard for sleeping. No fun. Cracked tooth, crown, root canal, etc. And the baby tooth extractions ( I was there last week because a baby tooth came out and there was still something hurting - which would be the other half of the baby tooth that broke off and DIDN'T come out..). And don't even get me started on the orthodontist. That lovely lady will be able to retire quite nicely once she cycles through all of my children.

christinelaennec said...

Oh I'm so sorry to hear about all this pain... I am not looking forward to my next trip to the dentist as I suspect there will be Work Needing to Be Done... Is there a patron saint of teeth?

Tim Dolin said...

If there isn't there should be!

Sharon Woods said...

Year of the tooth, indeed. This must’ve been a stressful experience for you and your family. But it's good that you have a dentist on your side to count on, and all of you were able to receive all the attention and care you needed. If there's any consultation to all this, it's that your kids are cavity-free. Take care!

Sharon Woods @ Falls Park Dentistry

Joel Haynes said...

It's sad to say that you can’t depend on the tooth fairies on these cases. You’ve got to rely on your trusted dentist this time. I’m sure he’ll know what to do, and will find the best way to correct those problematic teeth. I hope 2015 won’t be another “year of the tooth” for both of you. Have a good day!

Joel Haynes @ Herrin Pediatric Dentistry