Sunday, April 24, 2011

Appointment #10

On April 11th I went in for more fillings. I am going to test what I've retained from my appointments thus far (and also see which students are reading and choose to correct me :-) and see how much I can tell you about what transpired.

Today I would have a filling in two anterior teeth #22 on the mesial side (meaning the side towards the center of the mouth if split into two halves between teeth numbers 8 and 9 on the TOP, or maxillary side, and 24 and 25 on the BOTTOM, or mandibulary side. I would also have a filling directly ajoining this one on the distal side of #23. You follow? :-)

Today was a welcome change from the back corner of a windowless cubicle upstairs in oral surgery, once again being downstairs by a window. As endearing as the Pelton and Crane light has become, I will pick "watch the leaves on a tree outside the window" ten times out of ten.
Before we began, Rakhee pointed out my first BLUE mark from my last appointment on my Nintendo mouth on the Dentrix program showing where reconstructive progress had begun beside all the red areas to be bulldozed in my soon to be White City.
I can't help it, I get a kick out of these monitors being coated with plastic. I've yet to coat one with a spray of bodily fluids! That must mean my students are doing a good job?
We began again with the topical, the SLOW so it doesn't hurt shot, the confusing clamp, tucking my teeth in with the rubber dam and the dremel dance party up and down the ridge of 23 and 22. Still no music. GRRR!
Due to the angle and slight crookedness of these two teeth Rakhee asked for some assistance from a doctor finishing off the filling. Though I can't really firsthand watch the process and haven't inquired about the possibilities of filming some video, it is amusing for me to picture the process as it is happening to the best of my mechanical knowledge. The resin filling material is in an adorale mini "caulking" gun, which is cured with ultraviolet light like some types of screenprinting inks I printed with ten years ago working for Electromark in my hometown, making safety signs and warning labels for other factories and power companies all over the US. It is "sanded" down and built up layer by layer. A thin piece of mylar (also used in screenprinting) is placed between the adjoining tooth as a "masking." In this case, however, we had to use a little piece of metal similar to a shim because the mylar just would not stick. The excess flashing on the tooth is later removed like how I grew up scraping the excess plastic imperfections from the injection molded pieces of my model cars I would assemble as a teenager before gluing them together. Finally, the tips of the spinning tool being used, not unlike a dremel or flexshaft used many times in sculpture classes in college, are switched out for buffing and polishing wheels, and the final test of flossing smoothly between those teeth commences. Oh, can't I just do one tooth, can't I, can't I? the artist in me is going to freak out soon if I don't get to play with any of these tools! I almost wish I could chip my own tooth just to be supervised fixing it in a mirror. How crazy is that?!

When everything was finished, I couldn't feel the difference on the back of those teeth with my tongue, and the color was a near perfect match. I dried myself off from my "complimentary shower" Rakhee kept accidentally spraying me with, as she gave me the amazing news that a doctor who had picked up one of my blog promo cards I left with her at the school who had been following along with my progress had given me a blank check to cover the cost of today's procedure! Speechless, once again.

We switched gears and prepared to make a second mold of my mouth after all the drastic changes over the past two months. Here is the old one, cast after my second screening appointment:
As if my poor teeth didn't already look orange enough!
As usual, whenever there are no instruments or hands in my mouth, I never stop talking and asking questions and sharing all of my continued news and activities in the works that develop on a daily basis, but this time, midsentence, one of the rare times I seriously ever get forced to shut up so quickly, Rakhee interrupted me with a tray full of alginate:
I was sharing the crazy story of my mother's of how my uncle supposedly almost died when his dentist did that and sued for malpractice, and how I have hated that successfully suing someone has always seemed like a dream come true for my mother and many of the people I grew up around. The people that, as I often joked, if you asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up, would reply "someone who won the lottery."

I have never been one of those people, and frankly I believe more in the power of positive thinking and in myself, more than I will ever put any faith in the possibility of a big pay-off one day from a system truly based on once in a lifetime chances. Why buy a lottery ticket every day, when you can save that $2.00 for a year and do something exciting with money you would have otherwise wasted on something as stupid as lottery tickets? Why dream of putting someone else out of business because of a mistake they might make one day, when it is your own mistake you make EVERY day of not grabbing your own life by the horns and embracing all of the endless possibilities around every corner that forces you to live a tortured, unhappy existence, blaming everyone in the world for your suffering but yourself.

Today marked my tenth roll of the dental dice, and I continue to come out on top. I embrace the journey, believe in my students and doctors, and wholeheartedly accept each day as it comes. It is only the beginning, and things are all the time getting more and more exciting. I am excited to see what happens next, to continue to enrich myself with knowledge I have for my whole life been ignorant of, and to relearn to eat and speak, smile and laugh again. I will leave the lottery for the hopeless. Not this kid, not today. I will however, challenge all who play to save that money, and walk boldly into a new way of living with me.


  1. Hmmm. April, not October, correct? As for the rest, it sounds good. (I'm married to a dentist so I tend to know a few things.)

    I'm rooting for you, Paul. (Pun not really intended.)

  2. Ha, I think I had it confused because I have just begun to go back and finally update my bike tour blog as well, maybe? It's weird, at this rate of new fascination with everything and how much this experience continues to change my life and effect others, for all I know I could end up married to a dentist or something! Haha. I have been throwing out a lot of "What if?" questions lately regarding fund-raising, grant-writing, free clinics, and the (CRAZY!) thought of trying to somehow form a 501c3 non-profit dental practice with some students when everything is all said and done. Who knows!
    Thanks for writing. You win the CROWN for first comment of the day. :-) And with me, all puns, are ALWAYS intended!

  3. When everything is finished, I do not feel the back of the teeth and tongue differences, color is a near perfect game.

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