Plastic Teeth

January 25th, 2007

I had an appointment today with the dentist to get fitted for two crowns. To translate that, I went to the dentist today and had two teeth ground away to nubs so that in three weeks I can go back and get some really expensive porcelain teeth installed.

Now, these two teeth have already had root canals, but they were never capped. You’re always supposed to get root canals capped because once a tooth has had its root forcibly removed, the likelihood of it snapping in half while gnawing on a gummy bear apparently skyrockets. I assumed that since these teeth had already had root canals, there would be no need for a heavy anesthetic. I assumed a topic treatment to numb the gums would be sufficient. I was, of course, wrong.

Dentists love to break out that needle. Doctors get the boring disposable plastic syringes, but the dentists wouldn’t stand for that kind of modern medical equipment. They still use the big metal syringe, with the creepy curved needle nearly two inches long. The thing is clearly designed more for its effect in inducing fear than any medical necessity. I’m sure there’s a modern plastic syringe encased inside that metal monstrosity, but they do their best to preserve that 19th century look. Every time that needle appears, I have visions of it gently sliding through the inside of my mouth, and immediately popping out the back of my jaw. I’m sure it will happen someday, when the dentist “slips”.

Once I was thoroughly numbed, the drilling started. Of course, it wasn’t drilling so much as grinding. They might as well have broken out the dremel. That horrible burnt tooth smell filled the air, and I briefly wondered if the mercury in my fillings was turning into vapor as he ground on it. I stopped worrying so much about that after I contracted Korsakoff’s syndrome and briefly contemplated a career as a hatter.

I think the highlight of the day was when the dentist managed to send a drill bit flying into my tongue. Apparently, while drilling on one of my teeth, he managed to press the back of the drill into my cheek hard enough that it released the drill bit, which promptly left the drill and became airborne, striking both my tongue and the roof of my mouth. Honestly, I was pretty relieved when I found out it was the bit, because I thought he’d just broken off a big chunk of tooth on accident.

I’d actually never realized just how much damage the gums sustain during something like this. I finally figured it out when the dentist removed his little mirror from my mouth and I saw that the back was entirely covered in my blood and what I can only assume was tooth powder. (And yes, that’s the medical term.) Later when they were making impressions of my tooth-nubs, I was left with one of the molds in my mouth for a few minutes. I happened to touch my chin and noticed that it was wet, with reddish liquid. I managed to drool a fair amount of my blood-spittle mixture down my chin.

When all that was done, they brought in a little plastic tray that they’d molded from my teeth before the grinding began (picture an Invisaline tray). They filled it with plastic goop and had me bite down on it, making one final impression. After the plastic goop hardened, they actually used it as my temporary crowns, after some trimming for fit.

I’m now the proud owner of two plastic molars.

  1. seleena Says:

    Well, one thing going for you…your story telling abilities. Thanks for that moment of entertainment. AND the endless amount of laughter it has generated inside me, which I can’t seem to make stop… :-D

  2. Billy Says:

    Yeah. Dentists suck. I keep my eyes shut when they’re dealing with the needle. I don’t want to see it, so I can pretend it’s not going all the way back into my brain.

    Also, if it’s molars, why not get gold crowns instead of porcelain? They’re cheaper and according to my dentist last longer and are less likely to chip or break.

  3. seleena Says:

    (gold crowns + derek)(image) = laughter^10

  4. Derek Park Says:

    Seriously, Billy, I don’t want any bling. I’ve also heard that gold crowns sometimes have a tendency to impart a funky taste to everything.

  5. Jerry Park Says:

    On a lighter note, it has recently been discovered that hair loss is directly proportional to enamel loss.

    (I have a lot of crowns).

  6. Derek Park Says:

    Luckily, I haven’t seen any hair loss, so hopefully I won’t be seeing any “natural” enamel loss, either. My actual enamel loss all seems to be due to dentists’ drills.

  7. Martha Says:

    As the “proud” owner of, I think, 16 crowns and 2 onlays let me speak from experience. I have now or have had gold (actually looks more like dull silver), porcelain and Cerec crowns. For molars the gold is by far the best. They last longer and no they don’t make things taste funny. The porcelain crowns tend to have the porcelain break off after a while (3 replaced) and the Cerec crowns look and feel funny. I have actually “worn out” one gold crown. No I won’t tell you how many years that took! Anyway, one tip — if your temporary crown should pop off, you can stick it back on with denture adhesive or even paste type toothpaste (not gel). Good luck!

  8. Derek Park Says:

    I’m not really a fan of non-tooth colored stuff in my mouth. I already dislike the slight amount of metal visible on my porcelain-metal crowns. I am not actually sure whether my new crowns will be fully porcelain or porcelain fused to metal, but I assume the latter. Either way, I think I’ll be sticking to porcelain unless I find that they aren’t holding up well enough. I’ve had no problems with my others so far.

    The dentist actually gave me a little tube of Fixodent to use in case the temp comes off, too, which was nice.

  9. Billy Says:

    I have a pimpin’ gold crown, but it’s way in the back of my mouth. Never see it unless I crank my cheek out to the side and really open my mouth wide.

    It’s definitely not a tooth, though. Then again, neither is my porcelain crown in the front.

  10. Derek Park Says:

    You have a porcelain crown in the front? Someone did a good job. I’ve never noticed.