Tuesday, March 02, 2004

... and spit

I had to go to the dentist today. I've been bothered by toothaches for several months now, and it finally got to the point where I figured I needed to be an adult and do something about it. I think Tom Hanks' tooth trouble in Cast Away helped convince me there's no point in putting it off.

I was convinced I had some bad cavity, needed a root canal or would end up getting six teeth pulled. I'm talking serious pain, always when drinking cold stuff and often when i just bite down on something wrong.

But the dentist, after poking and prodding and checking out the x-rays, says I have no cavities, no decay, no internal issues with my teeth.

However, using a very sophisticated process (rubbing an ice cube along my teeth and having me bite down on some special dental stick), he comes up with a diagnosis:

"Micro-breaks" in an upper and a lower in my left side. Tiny little cracks that are very sensitive to cold and - when struck at just the right angle - hurt like a mofo.

Such micro-breaks are caused, he tells me, by clenching and/or grinding of the jaw. This, he further explains, is usually related to stress.

I don't think I've ever had a dentist ask me "so, have you been under a lot of stress lately?" (I am) before, but that's what he says is behind it.

The solution? For now, I'm getting a special night-wear mouthpiece made to see if having it in for a few nights reduces my pain. If so, I think I get a permanent one. If not, caps or something like that are in order.

My only frame of reference for an adult having a medical mouthpiece is Richie (Quentin Tarantino) in From Dusk 'til Dawn. Lord knows he had a lot of stress, which may have led to all that teeth grinding, not to mention the needless killing of law enforement officials and bank tellers.

I'm going to ask the wife, in the spirit of Seth and Richie, to say "Cap'n ... Put in your bit" when she's reminding me to wear the mouthpiece.


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