Getting My Crown
I have two crowns in my mouth, on my molars. One cracked and has to be replaced. Five years. It lasted only five years. I have shoes that cost a lot less than these fake teeth but are lasting longer. After two weeks of waiting, of chewing carefully and eating lots of soft food I headed to the dentist to get my new crown.
Dr. K, who’s maybe 40, unmarried and full of enthusiasm for his dentistry, proudly holds up the replacement tooth like it’s a precious jewel. He turns it this way and that, then hands it gently to me so I can admire it too. Resisting the urge to toss it in the air just to see him jump, I smile and hand it back.
“Since I know you have a sensitive mouth,” he says, “I’ll just numb you before we begin.” After a short mental debate over the merits of rubber mouth over pain I open my mouth. He zooms in and inserts the l o n g needle filled with lidocaine, and as he does, a drop hits the side of my tongue producing an almost instantaneously numb tongue. Ouch! as the needle pricks the tender skin on the inside of my mouth. Ouch! as he wiggles it around, and I think frantically that the needle’s going to come out my cheek. Yoga breaths.
In goes the crown for a test fit. Dr. K wiggles and presses it into place. He wiggles. He pulls. He turns my head and braces his arm on the side of my head and pulls some more. The fake tooth doesn’t move. It’s wedged in tight, too tight.
“It’s not going to be a good day,” he says with a frown slanting a look at his assistant.
“Well, if I can’t get it out on the next try, you can go home and it will eventually work itself loose,” he says, “And then you can come back.”
I don’t think so. I am numb from my eyeball to my neck including my tongue, and I am not budging until that tooth is un-wedged, then re-placed in my mouth for good.
In he goes for one last try and out pops the tooth. He shaves its side and puts it in again. “How does it feel? Is it too high?” he asks.
I’m so numb I can’t feel my lips or gums and I’m supposed to gauge how comfortably a fake tooth fits? Why didn’t I remember this part from five years ago and refuse the lidocaine? Because five years ago I was a lot younger, and I can’t remember much from then. I mean I have sharp and vivid memories of my childhood and teens, and twenties, but they all begin to blur around the time I had the kids in my mid-30s. Duh.
“It’s too high. It feels funny,” I reply, drooling onto the little bib they fastened around my neck.
He takes the tooth out and I hear the burring sound of a high-speed buffer behind my right ear, then he re-fits the tooth in my mouth. I bite down on the tooth which he has now covered with a small piece of blue carbon paper. Supposedly, when you squinch your upper and lower teeth together the paper marks where the tooth is rubbing improperly. We repeat this process about 5 times. Finally, Dr. K, dentist extraordinaire, gives up, saying, “Sometimes the human body just won’t cooperate. Your upper tooth may have dropped down to accommodate the temporary cap we put it. I‘ll Fedex the crown back to the lab and have them take a look at what’s wrong. Come back in two weeks.”
With that, I’m ushered out of the chair, numb from my eyeball to my neck, including my tongue, after exactly 28 minutes. Queen for a day? More like Court Jester as I feel the drool pooling in my mouth.