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My dentist does that. My dentist does that LITERALLY.

The teeth that were torn out (before they fell out) last January left me toothless on top. (picture a toothless hag witch with a big wart on her chin and nose… I did) I aided and abetted in this endeavor because I am a vain, shallow, female-of-a-certain-age who equates dentures and other dental appliances as a scarlet letter A branded in glowing letters on my face. Dentures and partial dentures were for OLD PEOPLE (and ugly hag witches). *I* am not an ‘old people’ (I keep telling myself) (shut up lotions, potions, creams, and retinol-A infused emollients overflowing my bathroom cabinet… silence, I say!)

But I digress… ahem…

Toothless, yes, but only for a moment. They immediately screwed in a set of teeth. Yes, I said, screwed in. Let me tell you, a Black and Decker electric screwdriver in your mouth is a very strange sensation to feel (and hear).

The first set was horrible, even for temporary teeth. The compensation set was slightly better. Today I got to see the work-in-progress, final set of screw-in teeth for me.

(gasp!)

They look… real! They look like my own teeth might have if I had proper dental care and orthodontics at a much earlier age. And whitening. And boatloads of cash.

But… they were the wax version, a preliminary fitting to make final adjustments with. My mouth and I had to let them go back to the factory so they can be replicated in something more durable than wax.

More screwing around in my mouth.

Dr. O is my dentist. My implants are on his Bucket List. We began talking about them over ten years ago and he wanted to make sure they were completed before he retired. Dr. O has been ready and able to retire anytime in the past five years… except for a few cases like my mouth.

As it is, I am in hock to the Tooth Fairy big time for the next 12 months. This is one of those ‘no interest’ loans that if you don’t pay it back in full at the end of 12 months, all the interest (and it is ENORMOUS interest) kicks in retroactively for the full amount. Ouch. Vain, yes, and I haven’t won the lottery yet. (drat! I do, too, buy tickets!)

So… I need to remain gainfully employed at least another year. I can’t retire for another seven years, but I need to stay employed for another year for the Tooth Fairy.

I think they know this.
(sigh)

During allergy seasons (increasingly longer portions of time here in the northeast), clouds of pollen drift thither and yon through the landscapes, sliding under doorways, slipping in through window cracks, gusting through puppy doors (and on puppy fur), and generally laying claim to the interior with layer upon layer of pale yellow-greenish silt.

I don’t wipe up dust as much as I sweep pollen about, creating fresh billows to gack my airways. I can see literal clouds of pollen sloughing off pine boughs and other tree forms. When I lived in New Jersey (aka ‘the Garden State’), I had minor seasonal allergies, and most of those were floral-based. Up here, the prolific tree pollen is significantly more potent as well as more varied. Frankly, the minor floral competition is drowned out in comparison.

The benefits of living as long as I have (and I am now the oldest I have *ever* been) means a greater reliance on cosmetics to face the public. Applying a daily ‘face’ becomes a challenge during the high pollen times because a sneeze will erupt when it will, whether you are applying lip liner, eye-liner, or mascara. It isn’t as easy to erase a make-up application error as it is to rub out a pencil mistake. In the case of mascera, you may as well completely remove what you have just applied and start over. Red eyes stream a clean track through your foundation down to your chin. Mascara lashings echo on your cheeks. Cool water used to sooth the eye, smudges what isn’t run off with leaky eye juice.

One day last week I had to start over *three* times. I was almost ready to face the world naked (sans make-up). But only almost. Even at my age, vanity rules hair and make-up. I do not wear high heels anymore. I compromise on pumps. Comfort trumps vanity.

The Tooth Fairy is alive and well and more prevalent than ever. Just ask Google. There are poems, screen savers, coloring pages, stories, movies, costumes, games, mazes, books, charts, graphs, and online dental experiments. You can download Tooth certificates, ring tones, and Tooth Fairy crafts. There are patterns for ‘heirloom quality’ Tooth Fairy Pillows. (I saw a photo and the concept of ‘heirloom’ has seriously gone downhill IMHO). You can order a canvas ‘Tooth Fairy [heart] Me’ tote bag for a mere $19.99 plus S&H.

Most of these items (excluding the last item and some of the kinkier costumes) are for those aged 9 and under. So where do I go? At today’s inflation rate, she owes me BIG BUCKS.

I come by my dental issues the old fashioned way. I inherited them. My father lost all his teeth by his early 20’s. Both sets of grandparents had full dentures. My mother gave hers up to bone loss while still in her mid-forties.

My early experiences with dentists came with pain from cavities, lack of flossing (I thought it was gross and decided they didn’t “really” mean it), and no dental coverage until my mid-thirties. Until I forced myself to follow through with regular bi-annual cleaning visits to the torture den dental hygienist (and that was only because the coverage would only be covered if I did so) well…let’s just say it took a long time to come to terms with most of my dental phobias. Eventually I did not need sweet air to endure the cleanings.
dentalwork
There were the obvious consequences. I now suffer from chronic periodontal disease, the dreaded ‘gingivitis’ which requires deep scaling and cleaning at the surgical level; and quarterly cleanings instead of biannual ones.

They told me that I would also lose all my teeth at some point. It was only a matter of time.

Between jobs in my mid-forties, I put some dental work off longer than I should have and in one fell swoop lost four teeth. Tears rolled down my cheeks as they extracted the abscessed, diseased teeth. The psychological pain was far worse than the physical (which took a LOT of Novocain). I felt old, ugly, undesirable, unfeminine… absolutely horrid inside and out.

I was fitted for a partial denture and eventually adjusted to the change in the taste and texture of food, the alteration in the sound of my voice, the change in speech and singing clarity.

Dealing with the vanity aspect took a bit of time. It still gives me an occasional sucker punch. It could be worse, I tell myself.

I continued to lose teeth here and there, adding the missing teeth to my partial until it got to the point where I was told that if I lost any more, I would have to remove the remaining few and get a full denture.

Or…

Or I could look into dental implants, none of which is covered by insurance. Dental implants require a winning lottery ticket, a MUCH better household income, generous inheritance (ha! none of my relatives qualify on the wealth scale, and thank you, I prefer them alive) or a seriously large donation from the Tooth Fairy.

I put it off as long as I could, but it became apparent this spring that the last remaining upper teeth were losing their grip. I bit the bullet, took out a loan and had the beginning work done today. I spent almost four hours in the dental chair as they cut and drilled into my bone. Regular and frequent Novocain injections made the surgery possible. It also kept me whacked out and sleeping most of the afternoon and early evening.

I now have four more craters holes in my upper palette that will, once healed, be fitted with crowns over the implanted manholes. A combination of bridges and crowns will replace my partial denture and I will feel ‘normal’ again. Impoverished, but ‘normal.’

I go back to work on Monday when the swelling will be at its height, but the discomfort level should be well within copeable levels.

Sigh.

Vanity is frickin’ expensive.

Does this count as a frog?

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