Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Starting off right

I woke up this morning with and insatiable urge to be gagging on something. This is a bit of a rarity, as I usually prefer not to be gagging on anything. Fortunately for me, today was the day the dentist was planning on taking impressions of my teeth to fit me for a new mouth guard. Long time readers know that awhile back, my dentist recommended a mouth guard for all the teeth grinding I do in my sleep. Previously, the $302 price tag had deterred me from pursuing this otherwise enticing endeavor. I mean, who doesn’t want to shove a custom fit piece of plastic in their mouth before going to bed? I’ve been getting by on packing tape in the mean time, but as I understand it, it’s just not the same.

Approximately one week ago, I woke up and found that I was unable to completely close my jaw and grind my teeth. You may not realize this at first, but when it comes to chewing food, grinding your teeth is precisely what you need to be doing. I wasn’t in any pain, so I shook it off for two days before the annoyance became too much to bear. I met with my dentist who took approximately 35 seconds to decide that I needed to see an oral surgeon. He did seem to think that this was a direct result of not having a mouth guard though, so we made the appointment for today based on the assumption that in the future, I would like to be able to chew solid food on a regular basis.

The appointment wit the oral surgeon was almost twice as long as the one with my dentist as he is a specialist in this sort of thing and consequently much more thorough. He basically called me a sissy and came just shy of actually kicking me in the groin. I was instructed not to eat anything denser than hamburger meat and not open my mouth too wide for then next couple of weeks. That should cure me. He also scheduled a follow up appointment in two weeks so that he could have time to invite all of his colleges into town so that they could all gather around and laugh at my simpleton antics as I explain how I was unable to fully clench my jaw. He said something about a video camera and possible a bloopers show for Maxillofacial Surgeons… whatever that means… My oral surgeon had a unibrow. I’m not really sure how that’s relevant, but now you know.

Back to today… My appointment was at 7:20 am, so already I knew I was going to have an amazing start to the day. I got there early because I simply could not wait to have impressions of my teeth taken. It was like Christmas morning, the first day of school, a first date and an unscheduled chubby bunny contest, all rolled into one. I was sitting in the waiting room ready to be called, watching the seconds slowly tick by. When they finally did call my name, I all but skipped into the back room and quickly seated my self on the hydraulic dental chair of joy.

My dentist’s office has monitors in all of the rooms that are all showing the same movie to give the patients something to watch while their mouth is being excavated. I’ve often found myself in a movie theater and briefly thought, “I’m so engrossed in this movie that I could easily have a dental hygienist’s hands fully in my mouth, just prodding away at my gums with some obscenely sharp device and not even notice.” But then I immediately become skeptical of my own engrossment level due to the fact that I just had a passing thought of being in a dentist’s office while I’m supposed to be enjoying the movie.

Regardless of my painfully distracting movie theater thoughts, the fact remains that my dentist has TV monitors in all of the rooms. It was the beginning of the day, so the movie was just starting. I’m going to avoid all the pun potential here and just tell you that “Just My Luck,” the soon to be classic Lindsay Lohan masterpiece, was the order of the day. Having somehow missed this one in the theaters, I was pleasantly surprised that while my teeth were being duplicated with a hopefully non-toxic substance, my eyes and ears would be privy to a visual and audible feast of another fine Lohan production. I’m fairly confident that future generations will regard Lindsay as The finest actress of this century. I’d even go so far as to say the whole craft of being an actress will become synonymous with the name Lindsay Lohan. People will say absurd things like; “did you see that new movie about the bank robbery?” “Yeah, the lead Lindsay Lohan in that was great. She really knows how to Lindsay (in this, the more absurd of the two sentences, “Lindsay” means “act.”).”

The first part of getting dental impressions is figuring out which size metal tray to use. Based on my experience this morning, my best guess is that they find out which tray will barely fit inside your mouth, then find one three sizes larger than that to use for the procedure. The hygienist set about mixing the chemicals while I settled in to watch the cinematic eye candy. I feel it necessary to mention that before the hygienist started working with all of the materials that would later find their way inside my mouth, she made sure that she put on gloves, a facemask and a visor. I’m always skeptical of any procedure that involves direct contact with something that the doctors themselves wear lots of protective clothing before even going near it. No matter, I was quickly wrapped up in the adventures of the lucky Lohan.

Just as the world of Ashley Albright was beginning to take hold in my mind, the hygienist turned to me and said, “Open.” As I did this, she shoved in the first tray of gelatinous goop. When it’s first placed inside the mouth, it has the consistency of yogurt, and almost none of the flavor. When the upper teeth are being done, this is where the gagging fun begins. At first, you’ve just got this yogurt like substance in your mouth, so instinctively you want to swallow, but you can’t. As time passes, the substance begins to harden and really trigger the gag reflex inside all of us. It’s a truly magical feeling, and I hope everyone gets to enjoy it some day. Supposedly the tray was in my mouth for about 2 minutes, but my internal clock registered somewhere between 7 and 9 days. Although, I can’t really be sure because no one had a stopwatch with them at the time.

Once the hygienist was satisfied that the substance had hardened enough and would be a usable mold, she went about removing it from my mouth. It turns out this was not as pleasant as when she first put it in. The pulling that ensued in order to remove the mold from my mouth, left me provided me with the time to contemplate the following thoughts:

  1. I need to do more neck exercises.
  2. I wonder if they can make dentures from this mold?
  3. Would I really want dentures that look like my current teeth?
  4. I wonder what mischief Lindsay has gotten herself into this time…
  5. Is that crowbar really necessary?

From there, they did the lower teeth, and then made me bite down on some special green cloth or something to record my exact bite. I assume that was for a trophy case somewhere in the doctor’s office. After that, I was free to go.

That fairly well cured me of my desire to gag on something, so overall, I’d have to say that I was happy with the way things went. Now, I only have to wait two short weeks before they give me my custom made, bedtime, chew toy. I’m already crossing off the days on my calendar. I’ve crossed off 3 so far. A lot of people wait until the end of the day to cross it off the calendar when counting down for something. I do that myself, but that’s for things that I’m not really excited about. This is different. I crossed off today right away for obvious reasons, then I crossed off tomorrow because I’m practically there already. Thursday got the X because Thursdays almost always fly by. Tomorrow I’ll probably knock off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The weekends don’t count because I don’t work and won’t be there to cross them off anyway, and Friday might as well be the weekend considering how hard I usually work on those days.

For a lot of people, this is where the fun would end, but not for me. I know how to pack in as much of a good time as anyone, but I know I’m going to get some complaints about the length of this post, so I’ll stop this for now. Stay tuned for what happened after I left the dentist’s office. Maybe I’ll post about it tomorrow, maybe I’ll post about it next month… you never know with me.


cadiz12 said...

i hope you enjoy every last moment with your chew toy, jon. however, part of me wonders if this elaborate tale is just an excuse for why you've been hiding for more than a month.

and be honest -- you were really hoping for a chubby bunny contest, weren't you?

Radioactive Jam said...

I had to stop reading because (1) I was hungry and (2) I can't eat, read, and laugh at the same time. So I'm opting for two out of three. But I'll be back to finish reading. And laughing. Because - Jon - this is by far one of the funniest posts I've ever. Read. Period.

And I recall seeing you have a degree in English, but I don't remember you noting your clearly successful post-grad work in Sarcasm.

Sorry about the root problems, though. Can't be much fun; hope the future brings less trouble and more... uh, "oral" happiness for you.

So to speak.

omar said...

I had a similar experience, minus the Lindsey Lohan, when they had to do an impression for my crown. My dentist also recommended I get a bite guard to wear at nights, as my problem with grinding teeth is what necessitated the crown in the first place. We've fought quite a bit about it. And I don't mean arguments, I mean like actual fights.

jazz said...

it was long.

i can't believe there's more.

good thing i don't do anything at work otherwise i'd have NO TIME for this.

Anonymous said...

I second Jazz's third point.

That was really funny! We all love the dentist.

Let's be honest, here. Didn't you love it when the she-hygienist said, "Open your mouth"? It's only a shame she stuffed something in before you could regale her with professions of love and devotion.

Jon said...

Cadiz: Guilty as charged. I cannot resist a chubby bunny contest… at least not until I was recently informed that a girl choked to death while playing that game. That was a bit of a buzz kill. It seems like the older I get, the more I hear about today’s kids dying while doing the exact same activities I did as a child… I don’t get it.

Jam: Talk to me when you’re done eating. I don’t like to interrupt a meal…

Omar: That seems to be the trend among dentists these days. My dentist’s office has enough room for 8 examination rooms, however, there are only 7. The space that would be an eighth exam room is currently the home of a metal cage where the dentist and various patients can be seen having it out in the hopes of settling an argument. Most of the time it’s bill related, but sometimes it’s over how a cavity was handled or, as in your case, about whether or not to get mouth guard/crown.

Jazz: we’ve been over this Jasmine, I’m a windbag. And oh yes, there’s more…

I’ll swap jobs with you. We’re working 10-12 hour days right now, and we’re behind.

Lia, I’m sure it won’t be long before someone 3rds Jasmine’s third point…

And to be honest, I do not love the hygienist. As she is the same age as my parents, the thought of it sort of creeps me out.

datura547 said...

This was an amazing post... reminded me of another funny guy I know who tells a little story about going to the eye doctor...


Syar said...

how do you find out about any teeth grinding you might or might not be doing while you sleep? because people have complained to me about *airquotes* weird sounds I make while I sleep and I took a stab in the dark and assumed it was teeth grinding. but I don't wake up with a tired jaw or like...ground down teeth and enamel powder in my mouth or anything.

what gives? do you have any answers?