As a kid, losing a tooth is a sign of something good. Actually there’s a few good things about losing a tooth: you have the dramatic build up as the tooth wiggles and hangs at odd angles, you know your big teeth are coming in and you get a visit from the tooth fairy. I’m not sure what the going rate is, but back in the day you could get a great haul for ten cents.
As an adult losing a tooth is nothing short of traumatic. Sure, there’s ten million way worse things if you really consider the spectrum. But yesterday I couldn’t think of one worse thing.
It started on Friday. A typical beautiful summer day by all accounts. We have our regular pickleball routine as we practise for the upcoming tournament. We head home and I make pasta sauce and Italian sausage. It’s one of Rudy’s favourites (he even likened to one of his favourite Italian restaurants!!). I made the pasta sauce in a large skillet with a lid. It’s an awkward size and weight and as I was pouring the sauce onto the noodles a rogue sausage plopped out with boiling sauce and landed on my foot. I had socks on but the stunned momentary hesitation on my part caused a lovely burn with three really huge blisters. It stung like a bitch!
Later that evening we are ready to settle on the couch with wine and popcorn. We’ve started a new series “How to get away with Murder”. So far we really like it. Viola Davis is amazing. As I get things organized in the kitchen Rudy creates a ruckus by smashing a wine glass. Shards and splinters are all over the tile floor. We tidy that up and settle on the couch.
I make great popcorn with garlic butter and Parmesan cheese. It’s excellent with wine! We munch away watching the show. Bliss.
Then suddenly I bite an unpopped kernel and POW 💥 an intense burst of pain Sears through my head like an explosion. I’m stunned for a minute. I swallow. Sip wine. The liquid on my tooth is a reverberating pulse of pain. What have I done?!? I look at Rudy and seeing the look on my face he immediately knows somethings wrong. I think I’ve cracked a tooth I tell him. He groans in commiseration. Rudy’s teeth are chronically lousy. He’s all too familiar with the notion of broken teeth. I, on the other hand, am not. I have strong nearly perfect teeth.
When you have anything out of sorts in your mouth your tongue wants to linger and explore. Each time my tongue rolled over my molar it struck a nerve and sent pulsations of pain to my brain. The next morning (Saturday) while laying in bed and doing the tongue test I knew there was trouble. I couldn’t feel any cracks but the sensitivity was excruciating. I called our dentist Dr T. At first he declined the call. I realize we have new mobile numbers from Florida so he would think I’m a pranked. I wish I was. I call back. He answers in a tone that suggests he is ready to rumble. Hi Dr T, I say. Who is this? Terse reply. it’s me, Susanne. I have a new cell number. Oh, he replies. Better tone. What can I do for you? I tell him the popcorn story. He tells me he’s on vacation at his cottage but will see me in two days. Ok. That’s that.
For the next two days I chew on the left side of my mouth sparingly and take pain killers. My mind conjures up grotesque scenarios that logic casts aside. The brain ping pong between rational thoughts and crazed pain driven hell is ongoing. Each sip, bite, tongue adventure starts another round. I self medicate as much as I think reasonable.
On the third day we venture into the city. It’s been a while and I’d much rather be going to a ball game or show. Rudy drops me at Dr Ts office. He’s a one man operation with an assistant and his wife as receptionist. His office is in a converted house on the main floor and two apartments above. You used to be able to see Bloor Street from his place but there was a small lot between him and Bloor but now it’s two huge condo towers. He actually owns one unit; it was a trade off for some right of way they needed in his lot.
He gets me in his chair. He taps on a few teeth as I stutter out the scenario. He takes an ex ray; nothing apparent. He’s going to do exploratory drilling. Best case it’s a crack. Worst case it’s broken and has to be removed. I got the short straw. Clean and thorough break he announces after jabbing me umpteen times with the freezing needle. I’m too shell shocked to take it in. He tells me he’s going to start the surgery. More freezing. He and his assistant work in tandem. Suction. Water. Drill.
You’re going to hear some cracking. Don’t panic. My mind is racing. I’m having a tooth pulled. OMG. Ok he says. I’m going to stitch you up. Great. All done. You did really well he says. I want to throat punch him. He gives me a prescription and I pay his wife the $500 fee. That was some popcorn!! I might never eat popcorn again. Ever.
I get out to the car where Rudy’s waiting. He says: it can’t be good; you were in there an hour. I mumble through the freezing and gauze that they pulled the tooth. Rudy cringes and groans in sympathy. He knows the feeling. I think given the choice he would choose a hard kick in the balls over a dental procedure. Neither of us really thought that I would be losing a tooth that day. It was surreal. My tentative tongue exploration reveals a gaping hole and the pointy ends of stitches. Gross. I replace the bloody gauze and Rudy cringes again. His empathy is lovely.
Rudy asks which tooth was pulled and I tell him the very back right molar. Dr T says I can decide on an implant next year as it takes a good six moths to fully heal. Rudy tells me I won’t miss it and don’t need a replacement as he proudly shares that his gaping hole is on the top at the very back. He says no one will even know; it’s not visible. All I can think of is people we know who’s otherwise bright smiles are ruined by gaping holes. Ugh.
So there’s a week of antibiotics and shortly thereafter the stitches will dissolve or get swallowed. In the mean time, life goes on. It’s only a tooth. In this day and age it’s minor.
Bummer. I should have kept at least part of it for the tooth fairy. Worth a lot more than a dime!