Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dental Who Caries?

I caries, that's who caries. I just had my first cavity filled in over 25 years. I was dreading it, and for good reason. The procedure itself isn't so bad, it's that massive needle that gets to me. If only my teeth looked as good as this guys.

When I was young, I had so many cavities it made my head spin. This made perfect sense because my parents (of course I'm going to blame them) never told us or encouraged us, or for that matter, forced us to brush our teeth very often. Consequently, we never brushed at night, never once flossed, and drank copious amounts of soda. To this day, my brother drinks a 6-pack of coke each day. Talk about disaster impending.

Anyway, my teeth were a mess. I'd actually had root canal done when I was about 8-9. Talk about traumatizing. Because of psychological scarring, as well as that of my wife R, we are militant about our kid's teeth, to point of being complete fascists. I kind of think of it as being the price the kids have to pay for eating sweets. They can have them, to some degree, but they must brush their teeth.

The bright side of this is that they don't complain about brushing after every meal, they just assume it's the way it is. This is a huge plug for establishing good habits early and following through on them. Many behavior patterns are learned, it just takes effort to enforce them, even to the point of being unpopular (say it isn't so).

Since my adult teeth came in, I haven't had as many problems, until now. I may have relayed this story, but I hadn't been to the dentist in at least 15 years, maybe 18 (since before college), and by the time we had moved up here, I figured the time had come. I completely admit that I was scared, plain and simple. The last time I'd seen a dentist was in my junior year in college. A dental student asked me if I was interested in being her subject for her board exams. It would involve free x-ray and exam, and it helped that she was pretty attractive.

Well, as it turns out, I didn't have any calories at the time, though my serendipity was her misfortune because she had nobody to work on. Since that time, which was about 1988 (I know, I'm dating myself), I had never seen a dentist, even when I had dental insurance. After about 10 years, the fear of seeing a dentist become debilitating, so I just ignored any concerns and kept brushing. Mind you, I was fairly diligent about doing this.

Finally, I broke down and went a couple of years ago. I was expecting the worst, but believe it or not, I didn't have any cavities. There were a couple of areas of concern, but nothing glaring, and boy was I stoked. I practically jumped for joy out of that dentist's chair.

And then, of course, my hubris came back to haunt me. Not only did the areas of concern require some work, but I had a wisdom tooth that was loose, of all things, and needed to be pulled. So I dealt with it. Sure, it wasn't fun, and now my teeth hurt, but I may very well have bought myself another 18 years, and you have to love that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Leslie Watts for the pic.

No comments: