March 15, 2017
A hundred years ago, a day like mine would have been pure torture, and at the end of it, the problem might still not be solved. Old Man Winter has decided to throw a few last punches before he retreats to his corner in defeat. Knee-deep snow greeted me as I opened the door this morning. Emma was dancing to go out, but apparently peeing in chest-deep snow isn't any more pleasant experience for her than it would be for me. I shoveled a short path, and she didn't stray from it. A quick swipe at the driveway was all I had time for before it was time to hit the road.
An hour later, I was parked in the dentist's chair in Silver Creek, waiting for the novocaine to kick in. At my last visit, I was informed that a wisdom tooth that never fully broke through had the beginnings of a cavity, and that if I didn't get it fixed it would be a real bugger to have pulled, being as it was so deeply embedded in my gum. No-brainer there. The problem was with the molar a neighbor away. It had been filled years ago, and the old amalgam filling was crumbling around the edges. It had been a deep filling that didn't have much original tooth left to hold the filling, and if anything came loose, it was liable to break off, which meant either a crown or a yank. The former would be expensive, the latter not preferable.
With my jaw numbed up, he went to work on the molar. Here's where I am thankful. A hundred years ago, what he did to my tooth would have been an excruciating experience, without much chance of success. He ground out the old filling, took CAD pictures of the remaining tooth, sent them to a milling machine out back, and ten minutes later had a ceramic filling the exact dimensions of the hole in my tooth. A little touch-up here and there, and voila! Good as new!
Back when I was a teenager, a friend quipped, "Be true to your teeth, and they'll never be false to you." Both sets of my grandparents had false teeth when they were in their fifties. Linda's parents both had fake choppers. Tooth care was pretty primitive when they were growing up, and they paid the price for it while still in their prime. I was fortunate enough to be in the first generation of modern dental care, and still have all but one of my teeth, albeit with plenty of fillings. And my trip today didn't cause the dread and anxiety that that same trip would have produced in the nineteenth or early twentieth century. People put up with months or even years of toothache because dental work was such a brutal experience. The worse part of it for me was simply paying for it, and even there, insurance took care of more than half the bill. I am a blessed man tonight. The ol' grinders are working just fine!