Lost an old friend today. Too soon. I knew it would happen this week, but still you are never prepared. We’ve been together for 57 years – ever since I was 12. It happened quickly, but the aftermath is painful. That empty space left behind is hard to see, but easy to feel. Our relationship erupted just as I was perched between childhood and adolescence. Yes, number 18 molar is gone.
The new dentist in town, who is a gem, said that due to significant bone loss, it had to go. Apparently, it was upsetting the rest of my lower left row of teeth and had been a problem for a long time. Other than those long-ago baby teeth that we pull out with the help of strings and constant wiggling, the only other time I experienced an “extraction” was when my four wisdom teeth were wrestled free from the corners of my jaw. That, too, was a long time ago, but unlike today’s pull, that experience was expected and part of young adulthood.
Today, however, the words “bone loss” was another reminder that young adulthood is long past. Baby teeth are barely a glimmer. I’ve already lost my brown hair pigment, one hip, part of my colon and my ability to recall where I put my car keys. I’m also short on patience, interest in doing housework and the desire for exercise. What’s next?
Growing up, our tooth fairy was likely part of the second-string team in tooth fairy land. Unable to coordinate reaching under our pillows to replace the small bit of enameled bone, she (or he) had a different system. This required that we deposit our tooth in a glass of water in the bathroom, whereupon she (or he) would zap it with the magic tooth wand and change it into a dime. And back in the 1950s, a dime was big money. That routine worked very well until one night when older sister Laura left her tooth for its transformation and went off to bed, dreaming of her soon to be financial windfall. Unfortunately, other older sister Judy got up in the night to get a drink of water. You guessed it.
I’m not certain what a 57-year-old tooth would bring in today’s market. It had its share of fillings and was sporting a relatively redone crown of porcelain when it was plucked from its socket. The good dentist and I discussed the financial worth of such teeth and he had no answer. Apparently, this was not part of his training. Instead, I paid him.
I now have a vigorous dental hygiene routine that will take me but an hour and a half, twice a day. It’s complete with some mouth wash that could probably do double duty as a floor cleaner along with various brushes and pastes. This was arranged by the cheery, but serious hygienist who “deep cleaned” my gums with a set of tools similar to the ones used in the Showtime series “Dexter.” I don’t think she believes in the tooth fairy.
In any event, I still plan to set out a glass of water when I go to bed tonight. You never know.