The Struggle and Demise of Number Fourteen

Y ou know that dream that most humans have where your teeth begin crumbling from your head? They turn to chalk or you cough too hard or they just start coming out into your panicked, cupped palm?

This resembles far too closely my waking reality.

I regret to report that my faithful Molar Number Fourteen (also known as second from the back, upper left side) has gone the way of all the earth.

It seemed such a big, sturdy thing to end the way it did. It was far too young.

I'll tell you the tale, shall I?

It never really had a chance. Near the end of my twenty-seventh year, the poor thing cracked. I'm pretty sure I was eating something dastardly, like noodles or a roll. You know, the things dentists warn you about.

The poor thing was in grave peril. The good dentist (and my Stake President at the time, so you know he was of repute!) said, "Nothing doing! You need a crown."

But the ordeal proved too much for my poor Number Fourteen, and it up and died.

(What I in my mind refer to as, 'the first death'.)

Root canal (different,  Utah dentist). A steel post. Lots of money and very little fun.

But Number Fourteen was far from having nothing more to say about the matter. An abscess (which I'd never heard of before, and freaked me right out!), antibiotic. Some time later: abscess. Stronger antibiotic. Again and again, stubborn, hateful abscess! My dentist (the third to attempt my Number Fourteen) was stumped. He sent my ex-rays to a colleague for 'further investigation'.

After a series of recurring abscesses and a stint in no-insurance land, I finally went back to the good dentist and said, "Call up your specialist friend, this is not working."

On to the specialist. His news was both expected (an invisible root missed the first time causing the initial infection) and alarming (significant bone loss to your jaw - this thing has been eating you alive!). He sat down, looked at me with those honest browns and said, "we could attempt another root canal, but honestly, with the position of that post and the damage to the bone, it's a fifty-fifty shot at best. If you were my wife or daughter, I'd recommend extraction."

I love it when they tell me what they'd tell their wife or daughter. It moves me directly from frightening uncertainty to calm trust.

Okay. We'll lose the tooth.

On to another specialist - an oral surgeon. This will be the fifth dentist to have a go at Number Fourteen. He confirms. Massive bone loss. Will very likely need a bone graft - or two! It could be up to a year before the bone is strong enough for an implant to be placed.

A toothless year.

We set the date for surgery.

And all the while, I'm haunted by the image from that CT scan. Massive bone loss. I'm plagued by the fact that I'm thirty-two years old - far too young for this sort of thing. Far too young to be toothless. Far too young to be looking at the seemingly inevitable - dentures by fifty?

I like my smile.

I like it the way it is.

I don't think I'd prefer a wooden one.

The day arrives too quickly. William takes me in, sits at my side while the good doctor fills me with drugs that make me sleep. I don't remember falling asleep. I hate that. I do remember that as I sat in the chair, I thought about my wisdom teeth procedure and how I didn't remember how I got home. I really hated that. I am anxious and uncertain one moment - and the next I'm groggy and gauzed.

They wheel me out to the car - and I have a moment of self-consciousness. The last time I was in a wheelchair, I had a baby in my arms. This time, I have no baby and no tooth. I feel silly.

And drugged.

And starving.

I have a love/hate relationship with pain meds. I love the no pain part. I hate the fog. The dizziness. The unsettling feeling that my legs are detached from their orbits and walking is a real gamble.

Today, I finally emerged from the fog and am feeling a bit like myself again - though my tongue keeps wandering over to a place where something is distinctly missing.

RIP, Number Fourteen.

Thanks for trying.


Kate said...

This makes me sad! It's the Gadd genes, I tell you...straight from your grandma! I just had my first root canal last night and a crown on one of my incisors. I can't stop looking at my fake tooth. Sorry about the bone loss and infection. Yuck. I would like you even if you didn't have any teeth.

Edward McNamara said...

Yeah, it's sad that, no matter how many attempts to rescue the tooth, it still had to go. Well, the best you can do now is take care of your other so you won't have to bid goodbye to any of them ever again.

craftyashley said...

Ow. It hurt just reading that! Sorry to hear the sad news! Feel better soon!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

That is so lame. I hate dental trauma and it seems to always find me. Sounds like we have that in common. And I have those dreams ALL the time.

The Aprecios said...

My fears of the detist are once again solidfied.


AND, love, love, love the blog make over. Its rad.