Category: dentists

The Joy of Orthodontics

I’m sitting here in the orthodontist’s office, waiting for Tomas to get wired up for his second round of heavy metal. This also means I just made the first payment for said round. Adulting is more expensive and far less fun than advertised, though on the plus side, it’s not my mouth. I definitely feel for him.

When I was growing up, I had to have some wiring done to get my teeth in order. I know there were braces involved on my bottom teeth, and I had to wear a retainer on my top teeth for quite some time. But the actual process is pretty much a blur. I don’t remember how long it lasted. I remember getting the bottom braces off, but not much more than that.

(Ironically, when I moved to Maine at the ripe old age of 28 and went to my new dentist’s for my first cleaning (yay dental insurance!), she noted that I still had cement on my teeth from those braces. I guess it had just been hanging out there for fifteen years or whatever. It’s gone now.)

While you have to worry about actually having the work done when you’re growing up, you don’t have to worry about anything surrounding that. How much it costs. What actual work is happening. To me, it’s sort of like the difference between being a passenger and a driver. Before I could drive, I never really paid any attention to how I got wherever I was going. The car was this magic device. You entered it in one spot, and then some amount of time later, you got out at your destination. I let my parents worry about all that stuff in the middle. (Likely because I was too focused on my Gameboy to really have a clue what was happening.)

Now that I’m actually in the driver’s seat, I pay a lot more attention. Straightening your teeth is a complicated, expensive process. As I said, this is already the second round for Tomas. The first one involved getting his jaw into the right position. As I was driving him here this morning, we were reminiscing on that process. It had involved putting pistons into his mouth. Actual pistons between the top and bottom jaw that controlled how he could open his mouth.

While this was (obviously) preferable to getting head gear, I still don’t like to think of what it would feel like to have that happen to me. Not being able to move my mouth the way I want to. Being stuck with it all the time. Ugh. Thankfully, that’s behind us now.

Denisa and I debated doing this second round, talking it over with Tomas some as well. The first one had been almost a necessity for medical reasons. It would have caused him headaches (both literal and figurative) to leave the jaw the way it had been. This round is more cosmetic, for the most part. In the end, we felt it was the thing to do now. Straight teeth can help your self confidence. Healthy teeth keep the rest of your body healthy as well. And doing it when everyone else is lets you avoid at least some of the self conscious bits.

Anyway. It’ll be a couple hours more before he’s done. No clue how he’ll feel at the end of it. Wish him luck.

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If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Fun and Games at the Dentist

Going to the dentist has never been a favorite event of mine. (Is it for anyone?) And as I was lying there in the dentist’s chair this morning, contemplating my lot in life, I decided to try and come up with all the reasons it’s so high on my list of Unpleasant Things. (Anything to take my mind off whatever it was they were doing in my mouth.)

First off, I don’t understand what in the world is going on when I’m at the dentist’s. I get the process of teeth cleaning (more or less), but when it comes time to “restoration”? There’s a seemingly never ending flow of instruments going in and out of my mouth. Some of them drill. Some of them whine. Some of them beep. Some seem to do all of the above.

Sure, they numb you, but sometimes that numbing doesn’t quite do what you think it’ll do. There have been times I’ve had to get extra numbed because I can still feel what they’re doing. There have been times I’ve been so numb, I’m still drooling hours later. (I went on a date after dental work once. Bad idea. Ever tried finding a straw when you can’t feel your lips?)

Your mouth gets incredibly dry after being open for so long. You begin to wonder what exactly that liquid pooling at the back of your throat is made out of, and just how harmful it would be if you swallowed it. Have you already swallowed some? What if you can never swallow again in your life? And just how long have you been lying in that chair? And why is he getting the drill again? Did he find another cavity? He must have found another cavity.

That uncertainty. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not, actually. Maybe I’d be even more concerned if I knew exactly what each tool did. “Uh oh. He’s going for the Whizzbanger. That’s a bad sign.”

But hey: my cavity is fixed. I’ve sworn to always floss and brush, and renewed my vow to not forget. A vow not too dissimilar to the one we all make each year when we make a new goal to lose weight and exercise more.

On the plus side, this time my dentist took a close up picture of the decay in my tooth, showing it to me before he drilled. It definitely looked disgusting, and I definitely wanted it out of my mouth as far as possible. I think it was the most motivated I’d been before getting a cavity drilled.

Now if I could just feel my lips . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Let the Braces Begin

I keep meaning to post about this, but other thoughts keep getting in the way. TRC has moved onto that loveliest of life’s rituals: orthodontia. (I swear. Just when you think you’ve got the parenting thing down, new experiences keep cropping up.) Since he was the first of our children to tackle this obstacle, we had to do a fair bit of research and driving around to figure out who we wanted to wreck destruction and havoc on his mouth. And by “we,” I mean Denisa. She’s put in a ton of driving time, and there’ll be much more driving in the future.

I’ll admit I’m only loosely familiar with the processes that are going on in my son’s mouth. (There’s a sentence you hopefully don’t have to say too often.) I know there are pistons involved. And cranks. And devices that look like they were used as tools of torture in the middle ages. Also, rubber bands. Because everything’s more fun with rubber bands.

All I really know is that he doesn’t have to have head gear, which is super. Right? Right.

But all of this seemed fairly straightforward in theory. He goes to appointments. They stick stuff in his mouth. They make changes .We’re done in a half year or whatever. However, in practice, it’s been much different. He’s walking around with a whole bunch of metal in his mouth, some of which has to be tweaked at home. You’ve never quite felt frustration until you’re trying to figure out just how this Pyrax thing gets cranked with that little paperclip shaped tool, and having to do it in a way that doesn’t jab holes in the roof of your son’s mouth.

Fun times.

Then on Sunday, we realized the pistons were carving holes in his cheek. Holes. In his cheeks. Think about that for a bit. Sound like fun? So I got online and researched the problem and the solution, ending up jury-rigging some cotton rolls to get the pistons some distance away from his cheeks. It did the trick, though he looks more like a chipmunk now.

Hey–it’s Halloween, right?

Anyway. It’s been an adventure in my household for the past bit, but rumor has it that the cranking is done as of Thursday, so that’s one less thing we’ll be doing.

I had to have a retainer when I was a kid, and I had braces on my bottom teeth, but that’ s about it. Denisa, of course, had perfectly straight teeth (and perfect vision). I’m convinced she’s an upgraded model of the typical human being. So as parents, we’re going into a lot of this blind. Which is kind of par for the course for a first kid, but that’s a topic for another day . . .

Time for the Root Canal

If you’ll recall, TRC knocked out his front tooth last January. Since then, he’s been bouncing back and forth between dentists as they decided how best to treat it. From what I understand (which, admittedly, isn’t much when it comes to dentistry), the tooth still was growing, and so they wanted to let the root live for as long as it could before they killed it with a root canal.

Well, last week his lip swelled up like a balloon. The tooth had gone into abscess, and so after going to two more dentists, the verdict was clear at last: root canal time.

I feel really bad for TRC. It’s been really rough for him as he’s geared up for this procedure time and time again, only to have the sentence commuted at the last minute. All that meant was that it gave him more time to think about what this was going to be like, and to worry about it more.

Last night, he couldn’t sleep because of nerves. He came down to talk to me, and I chatted with him for a while about it. He talked about how he wished there were some other way to fix things, but I just had to tell him the truth: sometimes life is hard. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, or things we really wish we could avoid. Our choices have consequences.

The thing is, a lot of the time we like to talk about those consequences when the choices that were made were bad ones. But the truth is that often we have bad consequences from choices that never deserved them. TRC was just going out to go ice skating for an afternoon. He wasn’t monkeying around. Wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t. He had an accident, plain and simple.

And now he has to deal with the consequences.

Part of me really wishes I could intervene for him somehow. I think if I could, I would. But in a way, I’m quite glad that I can’t. Life has plenty of things that we have to do that can’t be avoided. I’m not saying it’s absolutely necessary that a 10 year old learn this, but at the same time, I can think of some harder ways to learn it. Yes, this is going to hurt, I told him. Yes, it won’t be fun. But the good news is that it’s something a lot of people go through. It’s something that can be fixed.

(Please don’t remind me of this post when the time comes for me to get a root canal. I’ve never had one, and I think I’d be just as nervous as TRC.)

In any case, if you have a second to send some good thoughts or prayers TRC’s way around 2pm EDT, I’m sure it would be much appreciated. For that matter, some thoughts and prayers my way would be appreciated too. I’m quite nervous for him, myself.

Looking forward to 3pm, when it’s all completed.

Root Canal Hokey Pokey

Some of you will recall that TRC knocked out his front tooth ice skating back during the winter. And if you’ve seen him in person lately, you’ll no doubt notice that the tooth is still gone. It’s been quite an ordeal to figure out what’s going to happen here. We initially took him in to have a temporary cap placed on the remaining part of the tooth, and the dentist looked at it and told him he’d need a root canal. Once that was done, the plan was to put in a post and attache a temporary crown-like object to tide him over until he’s big enough to get a real crown.

Fair enough.

So we took TRC down to a specialist for the root canal. TRC was more than a bit apprehensive, as you might imagine. But after arriving and taking x-rays. the specialist told us that TRC doesn’t need a root canal just yet. The root appeared to still be alive, and he wanted to leave it be.

I am not a dentist. When dentists tell me to do things, I’m programmed to do them. So Denisa and I said okay, and headed home.

Then the cap on TRC’s tooth fell off. We took him back to our dentist to get it fixed, and he asked, “Why in the world hasn’t the root canal been done yet so I can fix the hole in TRC’s mouth?”

We explained the situation, and he took another x-ray and told us the root had started to abscess (which sounds awful) and sent us back to the specialist again with stern instructions that this had to happen soon. Queue the apprehension for TRC again. This week, we took him down to the specialist again, to get the root canal done *for reals*.

And after getting there and having it x-rayed, it turns out the specialist is convinced we still need to wait. Apparently the root is still growing, and the longer we let it grow, the stronger that root becomes. The fear is that if we kill it now, the whole root will crack when the post gets put in, so better to wait and let it mature as much as possible. So we told the specialist and our dentist that we’ll be hosting a cage match between the two of them sometime next week, and the last dental professional standing wins.

Not really. But we’re waiting again, and hoping TRC might possibly have gained some superpowers after repeated exposure to X-rays. In the meantime, if you see TRC smile and notice something’s missing, you’ll know why.

It was from a bar fight.

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