Back in 1999, I went to the dentist for the first time in six years. Four crowns, multiple fillings and a root canal later, I decided enough was enough. A routine of brushing and flossing was adhered to diligently. I went in for regular cleanings and slept with a plastic mouth guard to keep me from grinding my teeth down to the gum line. I was a changed man, at least for a while.
Then came 2002, the year I lost my job and the dental insurance that went with it. I kept up with the dental hygiene for a while and still brush once a day, but the attention to detail began to slide as I eased into a new lifestyle of living on unemployment, drinking myself into a stupor every night, and sleeping till noon.
Eschewing flossing and seeing a dentist were problematic, though I didn’t much care. Sure my gums were receding, but so was my hairline. If a chunk of plaque got brushed away, revealing an enamel breach and a new source of pain, not a problem. I’d just move the chunk back where it was, pat it into place, and make a mental note to avoid that spot in the future.
Short of taking up crystal meth as a hobby, I have done everything bad to the inside of my mouth one can do and it shows. My gums are horrifying and my teeth have taken on the color, texture, and structural integrity of Corn Nuts.
I have since procured both regular employment and a dental plan, but had put off going in for a checkup until the time was right. Yesterday, the time became very right when I bit into a burrito and spit out a big piece of molar.
I made an appointment for Friday with the same dentist I had back in ’99. I remember him as a cordial chap who never berated me for the sorry state of my mouth and did his best to keep the procedures as painless as possible. But who knows? Maybe he has grown cranky over time. Lord knows I have. So instead of a reassuring demeanor and nitrous oxide on demand, he’ll just hit me in the back of the head with a two-by-four, fetching loose those teeth that weren’t worth saving anyway.
We shall see.