Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy Teeth

Last week I broke off a tooth - busted it all to hell. I seem to recall 30 years ago the dentist (my late dentist) saying something about there wasn't enough support and the filling was a temporary situation. 30 years, maybe 40. Normally people go to Nuevo Progreso for cheap dental work, but travel south of the border is a little iffy right now so I talked to our innkeeper and he gave me the number of a dentist. I called.

Yesterday I google-mapped my way to his office in San Juan, Texas. San Juan is poor, so poor there are no curbs, minimal paving, no street signs. The neighborhood was little rough, the office looked a bit like an abandoned gas station. Actually, most of the buildings looked like they might be abandoned. I thought, what the hell, I just need a tooth pulled, how bad could it be?

I was pleasantly surprised at the office interior, a typical waiting room, bright, four comfortable chairs, magazines, and with the requisite large bubbling aquarium full of cichlids. The woman behind the counter greeted me, then apologized that she would need to print the information sheet because she didn't have one in English. Eventually she got the printer working and I proceeded to fill out the form. A short time later I was escorted to a nicely outfitted room, modern chair and dental tools, art on the wall, a Haydn sonata playing in the background. A dental technician took my blood pressure (132/79) and took an x-ray of the tooth in question. Some time later the dentist, an older, overweight Anglo with wild, flyaway hair, came in humming to the sonata. 

He asked me what the issue was. "My tooth is all busted to hell." He glanced at the x-ray and looked at the tooth. "That tooth isn't busted to hell. I've seen a lot of them way worse. What exactly is your expectation for the tooth?" I said that I doubted it could be saved so I assumed it would have to be pulled. He immediately pooh-poohed that and said he could cap it for 450 bucks. "Cap it? That's great, let's go for it."

He said, "First, there is another option. I see there is a tooth already missing next to it." (Missing for possibly 50 years. For 50 years I have only been able to chew steak on one side. Sometimes I don't get around to fixing things.) "For about $1,400 I can cap both of the teeth next to the gap, then bridge it, inserting a tooth in the gap. Give you three good teeth."  $1,400! I guess he has to be somewhat competitive with Mexico.

So he deadened my jaw; I listened to Haydn while he hummed along and ground away at the two teeth, then took a series of tooth impressions in epoxy. A hour and a half later I had two temporary caps. In two weeks I will have three new permanent chompers in my right lower jaw for the first time in 50 years. I will have Happy Teeth!

4 comments:

Johann Rissik said...

..and those Texan Longhorns are running at the thought.....
Good one.

Gunnar Berg said...

;-) Yep, though even with fresh teeth I don't think I could gnaw through the shoe leather of a Longhorn.

George A said...

I'm of that last generation before fluoridation. I have molars that are just thin perimeter egg shells of tooth with enormous spikes of metal in the center of the crater. Ticking time bombs waiting to explode at some inconvenient time. Our kids barely have a cavity/filling apiece.

Gunnar Berg said...

You just perfectly described the tooth that broke.