A Royal Pain – Part II

 

Please join me for the continuing saga of last week’s story (A Royal Pain – Part I) a kind of a mashup of Dentist the Menace and the Molar Crown Affair.

Warning, some images may be disturbing to the dentally or aesthetically sensitive…

Ahhhhhhh
No teeth were harmed in the making of this product…except for the one that deserved it. You know who you are! Bad tooth. Bad, bad tooth!

I invite you to follow along on my magical, anesthesia-induced adventure.

With a Bippity

Boppity

Boo Hoo Hoo!

*

There is a hole in my life.

I just don’t understand it fully until the dentist says he has a plan to fill the emptiness I’ve been feeling.

He probes the moist recesses of my gaping maw, as he talks.*

“We could do a core build-up for about $270, maybe.” He suggests, with great reluctance. “Or we could do this…”

Tooth Holder
Lacking a proper image, please admire the toothbrush holder I snapped in the clinic bathroom.

With a motion reminiscent of floor models revealing the latest, greatest innovation, the television screen, which previously showed highlights of a kitchen remodel, now glows with the recommended option to increase my dental family by one.

The dentist gushes, “…you could have this beautiful baby installed.”

If there is a Ferrari of teeth it has to be the Onlay-Porcelain/Ceramic Crown he unveils with unsettling prestidigitation. Then he adds,

“All it will cost you is your soul.”

Or at least, that’s what I heard.

“Beg pardon? How much did you say?”

“Approximately eleven hundred dollars, plus X-rays.” Dr. Smith says…as if he isn’t joking at all. “My lovely assistant will prepare you. I’ll be right back.”

Tools of Trade
Not torture devices. Honest!

In a puff of smoke, the white-coated magician disappears behind the curtain, where he bangs pots and pans together to create the illusion of great works or something.

The lovely assistant plonks an array of deadly-looking implements before me.

Yeah, that doesn’t look scary at all. I think.

I ask the dental assistant, as she belts me in for the ride,

“Can’t we do the cheaper option?” Me, hopeful.

“I don’t know. I’ll ask the doctor…” She says, doubtful.

Then she gives me some happy-happy gas and I am feeling a heck of a lot less anxious about anything.

 

 

 

As she places the funky nose trough on, the assistance tells me, “The gas will work faster the less you talk.” She laughs as she says this, so I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mean it the way it sounds…I think.

(You’ll note, my ability to take selfies is seriously diminished, along with my cognitive reasoning, as the shots and nitrous oxide take effect.)***

The dentist returns and with little fuss or muss, he drills down until he finds un-decayed pay dirt.

Dentist: “Let’s see what the damage is underneath the repair job you did.”

Fake fill Tooth
The ‘BEFORE DRILLING’ IMAGE with DenTek emergency spackle in place

 

You know you’re in a bad place when you hear the doctor making the following sounds over the drill:

Dentist: “Hmm…” 

Me: “Ah ah.. hunh ah?” (What is it? What’s wrong?)

Dentist: “Oh. Well this goes a lot deeper than I expected…” 

Dental assistant probably wipes dentist’s damp, furrowed brow in an encouraging manner.

Drilling noises resume…accompanied with what sounds like boulders being crushed in my mouth.  Then sounds stops.

The dentist turns and comes back with a weird wand of some sort and a ring tone like an alien landing throbs as he probes my open orifice (and not in a sexy way).

NOTE: The drugs have really kicked in at this point…the next bits might be total hallucinations on my part:

DA (Dental Assistant): “Doctor…is that…TOOTH DECAY??”

Dentist: “I’m afraid so. We’d better keep going…”

DA: “But, is it safe to continue, doctor?”

Dentist: “Safe or not, I’m going in…”

WHIIIIiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRR

KA-CHUNK…cReaaaaaaaKKKK

UNHOLY SHRIEKING COMMENCES. 

A CHOIR BEGINS CHANTING A GREGORIAN DESCANT…IN LATIN!

Dentist: “Oh, dear god, what is that thing?”

DA: “Aaahhhhh. Hit. Hit it with mallet. Kill it. Kill it dead!”

Something heavy slithers away. Crashing dental implements hit the floor. The room is filled with weeping and the gnashing of teeth—not necessarily human.

Dentist: “What have we done? What nightmare have we unleashed? Oh the humanity…”

—INTERMISSION FOR A BRIEF REALITY CHECK—

What actually happened:

Dentist: “I had to take a bit more than expected. This is what’s left of your tooth.”

Half-tooth Cutaway
Yep–that’s the Grand Canyon of Craters.

Me: “So, that’s not going to be the cheap option is it?”

Dentist: “I think we’d better go with the crown. I couldn’t guarantee the work would last otherwise.”

AD: “If you want, you can follow me; you can watch me make your tooth.”

Cerac Machine
If I remember correctly, this fancy system costs the dental office over $200,000. That’s a lot of moolah for molars!

So, I got to see the birth of my new tooth. It’s a step above watching a B-grade horror film and I recorded it for posterity. If you squint, you can hear me slurring questions about the process.

WARNING, this video is a lot more interesting under the influence of dental anesthesia.

The dental assistant chats very nicely as the two tiny drills carve away at the cube of purple stuff that looks like so much plastic explosive to me.

 

 

DA: “It only takes about ten minutes to make the tooth.”

Me: *clicks photo of screen* “Cool…”

And it is. Despite the hassle of it all, watching the Star Trek-level technology carve a new tooth out of ceramic is pretty fascinating. Again, I am still kinda drugged…though the gas is starting to wear off when it comes time to actually install the new tooth.

F.Y.I—This is NOT the fun part.

DA: “It starts off purple, but then we heat it in the kiln and it strengthens the new ceramic piece and the color turns to a more natural shade to match your existing teeth.”

 

 

They test the tiny wedge of ceramic to make sure it fits the space before firing it. You can see the before image left of the after one above.

The dentist returns and, with grim determination, fits the formerly-purple, puzzle piece into my mouth.

First, he rinses the existing tooth with an acid wash. (And I thought I hated the 80’s jeans by that name.)  If I had to describe the taste—think rancid nuclear waste mixed with tinfoil.

Then he sands the new tooth to make sure my bite is good—with me chomping colored paper between takes.

Dentist: “How’s that feel?”

Me: “It’s kind of high in the back.”

Dentist: “We’ll keep grinding until it fits. Don’t worry.”

I swear this part takes the longest…or maybe it is because all the nitrous has worn off and I’m starting to feel things again. Like panic over the impending bill.

The dentist shows me the final work. And it’s pretty impressive.

Final crown
The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth—so help me blog.

He positions this R2D2 type cart with a rollerball joystick to spin through the pictures he took of my mouth.

Cerac AC
The mapping device that sounded like an alien ship landing shows the damaged area. (In blue above.)

While I might whinge about the expense, I can’t deny, the work looks good.

“Now the rest of my teeth look terrible.” I cry with no little dismay as a thought occurs to me. “Are they all going to fall apart like this one did?”

“We don’t know. We look for signs of stress.” Dr. Smith rolls the ball and a new image appears. “Like here, where you can see a crack going right through the tooth.”

“Ack. Are those my teeth?” I say. (Showing signs of stress.)

“No, no! I’m just showing you these as an example. All in all, your teeth are in pretty good condition.” Before I can relax, he adds, “We just can’t tell from an x-ray what might be happening underneath the fillings.”

“Good to know.” I say. Then another alarming thought occurs to me. “What if this pops out and I swallow it?”

“It won’t.” Dr. Smith assures me.

“They never come out?” I say, pushing for some reassurances.

“If it does, we’ll make you a new one.” He says, probably tired of me but hiding it politely.

“For an additional $1100?” I say with a squeak.

“For nothing.” He says, moving to leave. “I guarantee my work!”

And that’s all one can really hope for. I thank him and pay up and skedaddle out of there.

So, like a disturbingly dark fairytale or an old-fashioned monster movie, you leave the experience relieved that it’s over…but not entirely certain you’ve left the horror behind for good.

Only the teeth know for sure…and they’re not talking.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Any resemblance to the start of a raunchy, seventies-style porno is totally unintentional, I assure you.

**He did not say this. I exaggerate for effect. I do that a lot while under anesthesia.

***I had to wait several days before writing this just so I could piece together everything that happened. I’m pretty sure there weren’t any pixies involved in the procedure…at least none that showed up in the photos I took.

 

————————————-LEGAL DISCLAIMER——————————————

Tooth Image

This is a humor blog. I embellish. I stretch the truth. I invent. This was a very routine dental procedure done by a competent professional with courteous and friendly staff. It is no way an endorsement of getting one procedure done over another. Though, I would recommend D.D.S. Joshua Smith of Northway Family Dentistry in Grandville, MI, if you can afford the work. If you can’t, you’d better be diligent about flossing, because plaque waits for no man. Let’s also hope the doctor has a sense of humor about the above portrayal.

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18 thoughts on “A Royal Pain – Part II

  1. When I got my first ever root canal (and only, so far) a decade ago, I also got my first crown. What you’ve described here shows me there’s been a lot of progress in dentistry! Congratulations, by the way. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No. I’ve always been a very serious flosser. It happened to me when a crack in a tooth emerged around an old filling and got infected. I have several crowns at this point all resulting from cracks around shrunken old fillings, but the roots are holding firm 🙂 I tend to think it is a combination of genetics and time.

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      2. I have lots of fillings from early on. I had braces as a girl and when they came off, there were cavities in every one of my molars. Dammit. Hence my worry about future episodes. But, I too floss like a mad woman.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kiri, you we’re a great patient. I appreciate the curiosity and interest in the work that I do. You did a wonderful job framing this from the patients point of view. It was a fun read and great perspective for me. I’m glad we were able to deliver at such a high level for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I probably live in a lower cost area than you do, as my crowns are $700 before insurance and about $400 after. I, like most immune disease-riddled people, have the bad teeth. I take dental hygiene very seriously but still I suffer. All my money’s in my mouth. You were very brave.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Kiri, keep in mind this isn’t a commodity. This isn’t buying something off the shelf. In school we used to do crowns for $400. I also know the experience was quite different as was the skill level. We try very hard to keep our fees as low as we can while keeping state of the art technology and high level service.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. As a humorist, I try for the light-hearted funny approach to comments. For all I know, Joey lives in Canada where there is subsidized healthcare. Or In Australia, making driving there problematic. I could have tried to shop around to get a “cheaper price” but my experience is, you get what you pay for most times. And I wasn’t willing to go cheap on something as important as teeth. I like to chew. And even though I love soup, I really don’t want to live on it.

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