I recently went in for a full dental x-ray. As usual I was asked to fill out a questionnaire with all sorts of personal questions while wondering how in the world they could possibly apply to what I was in for. You know the ones. The ones you’d like to write NOYDB: none of your business. But at this imaging place was a question I’d never before come across. The question was, “would you be upset if you lost all of your teeth?”
Hmmmmmm. Was that a trick question? I mean . . . really? Who wouldn’t? Was this one of those passive-aggressive tactics our mothers used to use when trying to manipulate us into changing our behavior? “Do you want me to march into your class and tell every one that you wet your bed last night?”
It really had me stumped and I had to sit and think for a few minutes. If I answered no I would be lying but would it show that I’m tough and can handle depressing situations? If I answered yes does that mean they need to watch me carefully, hiding blunt instruments, putting me on suicide watch, making sure I don’t follow other patients that have a full set of teeth out the door while carefully concealing a pair of pliers?
I literally got up out of my chair, walked up to the receptionist, pointed at the question and asked her, “Has anyone ever answered this as a ‘no’?”
What would a person like that say? What would a person like that look like??
Which comes to the reason for this particular visit. My periodontist (yes, I have several specialists in regards to my dental health. You could feed a third world country on what I’ve spent on my teeth) announced that there was nothing he could do for one of my teeth and that it would have to be extracted.
As in pulled.
As in yanked.
As in a hole and space between two perfectly healthy teeth.
“But the good thing,” he hastened to add, “is that you are a great candidate for an implant.”
Okay, now when a gal hears the word “implant” she’s not going to get that excited unless it involves bigger boobs.
For those who are not toothing impaired, a dental implant involves putting a metal post in the hole where your tooth was and then a fake tooth–much like a crown–is screwed on top. Voila. This new tooth won’t be distinguishable from the others. The only difference you will notice is that sucking noise coming from your wallet.
I was a bit worried the night before my surgery. What if I wasn’t the prime candidate my dentist had hoped I would be? I was having nightmares of Jack Nickolson holding a spinning dental drill and screaming, “You can’t HANDLE the tooth!”
I’ve recently realized I’m fast approaching the age where more and more things are being yanked out and bionic parts are being shoved in—but the only special powers to show for it are crankiness and a full-blown snarky attitude. When I die my kids will be able to strip me like an old car and sell my parts for scrap metal. Which is only fitting as they are partially responsible for the current state my body is in.
To go back to a time when knee caps actually looked like knees, when socks could be pulled up to said knee without fear of gangrene settling in from the elastic cutting off my circulation, when I could wear a swimsuit that didn’t have a skirt attached to cover thighs, and more money was invested in the stock market rather than in my mouth.
I suppose getting older isn’t all that bad. Social filters are slipping enough to allow me to not really give a hoot when I express an unpopular opinion. And enough fatigue is settling in that I don’t feel like I always HAVE to express an opinion. Someone thinks it’s abhorrent to have kids sleep with parents? I don’t really care anymore. MY kids are happy in their own beds–and in their own houses–while I blissfully slumber with earplugs and an eye-shield.
So, I have to admit I’m grateful to live in a time of dental miracles, bypassing those of George Washington’s wooden teeth days. It might not always be glamorous growing old but at least now I have a greater chance of not losing all of my teeth.
But just in case, I think I’ll keep a pair of pliers in my purse . . .