I went to the dentist this week for teeth-cleaning. This is usually a day of affirmation for me -- I tend to be a little OCD when it comes to dental hygiene, so my dentist usually gives me a verbal high-five for my good work -- but this time the frowny face appeared: "Do you use whiteners on your teeth?" "Um -- just whitening toothpaste." "Well, stop it -- you're wearing off your enamel." Yikers bikers. I am indeed a middle-aged woman falling apart at the seams. Anyway: no more baking soda toothpaste; no more pop; no more indulgences involving super-acidy foods, like sucking on a lemon wedge.
So how appropriate is it that this week's Friday Five is all about dentistry?
1. Are you a regular patron of dentists' offices? Or, do you go
a) faithfully, as long as you have insurance, or
b) every few years or so, whether you need it or not, or
c) dentist? what is this "dentist" thing you speak of?
My blue-collar family was of the generation and socioeconomic category whose dental philosophy was, "Use 'em until they fall out or you have to pull 'em out, and then get false teeth." So my formal dental health regimen was pretty hit-or-miss until I was an economically independent adult, and I didn't get needed orthodontics until I was in my 30's. Fortunately, I think because of my growing up on a farm and a my love of milk and dairy products as a tiny child, until recently my teeth were in great shape structurally; never had a cavity until I was in my mid-30's. But, nonetheless, I appreciate access to dental services and take advantage of them.
2. Whatever became of your wisdom teeth?
Interestingly, they never erupted until I was in my mid-30's and was wearing braces; as my teeth moved, they moved up. Unfortunately, by this time they were impacted in quite a bizarre fashion, so they needed to be reamed out of my gums by an oral surgeon. This experience introduced me to the killer combination of Versed and Demerol -- man, were those some good drugs. I understand that my surgery took twice as long as normal because of surgical complications from the impactions, but all I remember is sitting comfortably in the chair listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons singing Sherrrrrrrrrrry, Sherry Sherry bay-ay-bee -- I am not making that up. A friend who took me home afterward said that I was quite hilarious in my altered state -- laughing and joking even as blood was dripping gorily down my chin. It really wasn't that bad of a procedure. I'm not sure if the dental surgeon would agree, though.
Favorite thing to eat that's BAAAAAD for your teeth.
Ever had oral surgery? Commiserate with me.
My second oral surgery experience was last year, when my dentist discovered a hidden cavity deep in my very back molar, one that was too far gone to make a root canal feasible. This really depressed me -- because of my history, and of my numerous relatives who'd been wearing dentures since their 20's, it has been very important for me to keep my teeth intact, and the thought of losing one as an adult due to something other than an accident made me feel like a failure. Anyway, the extraction itself was so painless that I didn't even realize when it was over; but I was still a glum chum for the rest of the day. And it still makes me mad.
"I'd rather have a root canal than _________________."
Drive in big-city traffic. And that's the tooth -- I mean truth.
Bonus: Does your dentist recommend Trident?
Not to me, anymore. And he is a real foe of all whitening agents because of the way they deterioriate tooth enamel. He describes his own philosophy thusly: "I'm a coffee drinker. I love coffee. Coffee drinkers have stained teeth. Get used to it."