Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sparky Gets Traumatized!

It was bound to happen, sooner or later....ONE of a full timer's several possible nightmares, besides something going wrong mechanically, a fire, or some other sort of disaster-- something happens to your teeth! You break a tooth, you lose a filling, no biggie, right? Well, if you have capped front teeth, and nothing under them but little stubs, it's a BIG DEAL when one falls out of your mouth!

Sparky was feeding her face as usual at lunchtime, when she felt something weird about her teeth, her bite seemed "off". For the last few days, she had been feeling "grit" in her mouth, it turns out that was crumbling cement.....All of a sudden, she felt a big glob of something hard in her mouthful of food, spit it out, and there was one of her porcelain crowns staring her in the face. She promptly burst into tears. Now, you'd have to know the story behind Sparky's caps and her somewhat extreme reaction. It starts back in the fifties, when she was an impressionable 7 years old.

If you lost your front teeth (Sparky lost hers while ice skating backwards and falling face forward ON HER NEW PERMANENT FRONT TEETH) there weren't very many options for replacing front teeth...They didn't have all these fancy porcelain veneers back then...No, siree....Sparky was taken to the local dentist and still remembers the appearance of the office at 6:00 PM at night. She remembers where all the tools were, the view out the front window over the drugstore below, and the dentist standing over her, blowing air with the air compressor or whatever you call that awful tool, on the raw exposed roots of two little stubby remains of her relatively new front teeth to make sure she still had feeling in them before he slapped stainless steel caps on them.

"Are you SURE you feel this?" And he did it about three times....Finally, Sparky walked out of the office with her mom, wearing silver stainless steel "jackets" on her stubby front teeth. Those stainless steel jackets didn't always stay on through the years. Sometimes they would clunk on a Coke bottle by accident, (a Coke bottle? Of course! Sparky was a Coke addict back then, even though her mom didn't allow pop in the house except for special occasions) or by diving into the pool and skimming the bottom too closely because she had her eyes shut, and back to the same dentist she went. Once again...."Are you SURE you felt that?" Because she would have had to have a root canal if she didn't! For YEARS Sparky endured questions like, "How come you got gold teeth?" (I don't know how many people couldn't tell the difference between the color gold and silver, but it was a LOT!) And she had to listen to her dad sing the "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" every year for YEARS....Sigh!

By the age of 12, new plastic materials were starting to be used for teeth, so Sparky's silver caps got yanked off to get new tooth colored plastic jackets on...And THAT is a whole other story, how they yank down and try to strip off the stainless steel jackets...CLUNK, CLUNK, CLUNK, that awful thunking sound as they pulled downward...she still remembers to this day the pulling and the yanking to get those stainless steel caps off...There was some kind of tool that came down hard on the edges, it felt like a chisel and they had to really work to get them off!  And do you know, NOBODY noticed when the stainless steel caps got replaced by the tooth colored enameled ones! Not one comment from her school age buddies back then....

Things went well for years....with only one incident where one came off in her early twenties. She had her little daughter with her at the time of an emergency visit to the dentist and her daughter said, "Mommy, you look like Dracula!" It looks pretty awful when you see nothing but a sliver/stub of a tooth, plus you have a really bad lisp. Eldy can attest to that, he looked at it today, but he's saying nothing. Smart man and smart for not taking any photos with his camera phone....

So... A new dentist in the seventies finally went with porcelain crowns backed with hardened metal on the back to protect the fronts. He did a great job, matching the tooth color, and being a calming influence. Flash forward thirty years to today....Looking at that crown in her hand, all those awful memories came rushing back, and that scared little girl inside thought, "Here I go again, at the mercy of a local dentist....."

Plus, we were in the tiny town of Webster, there wasn't much from what we could see of it...After leaving Naples, it was going to be a challenge to find a good dentist, we thought. Eldy got on his phone and used YELP to find one....Not the best way, to be sure, but Sparky was desperate to at least get it cemented back on so she didn't look like Dracula! We could have queried the office personnel, or long time residents in the park, but Eldy quickly found one that said, "Bushnell Family and Cosmetic Dentistry"...She had HOPE! It had the word COSMETIC in it...It couldn't be too fly-by-night! And it wasn't! It was clean, it was modern, they had the latest equipment, TV's in the room in front of you to take your mind off your impending doom, and it was a wonderful place, very impressive. They got me in right away. Dr. Novak took care of me, along with his very capable staff, and for two x-rays, the crown went back on, 187.00 total cost, and Sparky got her smile back! Yay!

Where are the photos you ask? Sorry, Sparky was too traumatized to have taken any, and if Eldo had taken any, she would have shot him! All is well.....We'll have photos in the coming days if we can find some things to do! He did get this one of Sparky calming her overly frazzled nerves with a glass of wine or two this evening......


  1. Yikes! Just reading about that dental work makes me sweat. I have had my share of dental emergencies, so I have some idea of how it feels. I am so glad for modern dentistry.

  2. Man, I found myself holding my mouth the whole time I was reading this! (Actually, I had to skip ahead over a couple parts)
    I broke off an old filling here in Vienna and was just a tad concerned about just what to do. Thankfully a great dentist was recommended by our "relocation lady" (it's her dentist, so..)and I went to see him with cash in hand.
    So happy they've come up with porcelain veneers, or whatever they're called. The "new tooth" looks better than it ever did before with that metal stuff.
    You're a brave girl. Falling on your face? I'm still in "butt clench" mode.
    Nice to see it all worked out.

  3. I've had all kinds of teeth problem all my life ... with several missing ones that required a bridge on the upper front teeth ... if that crown held for so long, you're really lucky. Glad to hear you found a good dentist to get the crown back on.

  4. Oh you poor thing! Now I know why you were so traumatized. Glad you got them fixed!

  5. Glad to hear your original crowns lasted so long. I also have 2 on my front teeth from a fall at age 8 and am always worried about them coming off when we're in the middle of nowhere. Jim has had several dental emergencies since we've been fulltimers and it's always traumatic. Nice that you found a good dentist to get it fixed quickly.

  6. WOW that is some story. Poor young Jeannie. No wonder grown up Jeanne is traumatized by front tooth problems. So glad it all turned out well and only $187. That's AMAZING! Guess you'd better suspect something the next time grit shows up.

  7. I have hated going to the dentist since I was about 8 years old because of the way a dentist treated me so I can relate! Glad that it all worked out!!

  8. You were giving me goose bumps. I think any of us who suffered from dental problems as kids in the 50s are terrified of the dentist. I have one who, now, who finally understands the horror we went through at the hands of the terrorists. I get gas for cleaning and xrays. LOL And, on my chart it says in big red letters--turn it up high!

    All is well that ends well. Pretty lady.