She is surprisingly strong for a little woman.
The dentist has her entire fist in my mouth. She is vigorously pushing down on every crowned tooth, checking for integrity.
Integrity has never been my strong suit. So, too, with my mouth full of expensive dental work. An old permanent bridge in the back, attached to two gold crowns, chooses that moment to give up the ghost. It jiggles a bit under pressure.
I crack under pressure, too. It happens.
I’m a docile dental patient. I do not say, “It would have been fine had you left it alone, you meddling over-zealous harpy.” She is a very good dentist, after all. And I learned long ago not to antagonize people with the power to hurt me.
“Did you know that was loose?” she asks. I do not say, “It wasn’t, until you dicked around with it.” I smile, drooling on my paper bib, and murmur that it’s news to me.
The news is not good. The front molar cannot be saved. It suffered a root canal decades ago. It is tired. It has developed fractures
— probably from being pushed on so hard. My night-time tension tooth-grinding has nothing to do with it. That front molar is ready to pass into the waiting arms of the Tooth Fairy.
The back molar is still OK “so far,” she cautions, with a surprised and doubtful tone.
So all that’s needed is a temporary crown on the doomed tooth, an extraction, two bone grafts, two implants, and a denture to fill in the gaping hole during the long and involved process.
Oh, and money.
I tell the dentist I’ve noticed that other women wear gold on their fingers rather than in their mouths. She laughs, and says mine has done me more good.