Spittin’ Teeth

Sometimes I think it would be really cool if I could have lived in the Roaring Twenties, or in the Wild West, or during the Middle Ages. Awesome times.

But then I remember one very important fact.

I wouldn’t have any teeth.

Yes. I could hardly have been a cool, squinty-eyed Dodge City gunfighter with only two teeth in my head, and both of those rotten. Comic Sidekick would have been the best role I could muster, because I would have looked like Gabby Hayes.

When I think about all the advantages of modern civilization, pocket computers and the Internet of course leap to mind (and by, the way, where’s my flying car!?) but when I really think about it, I’m really, really grateful for modern dentistry.

I don’t enjoy going to the dentist any more than the next coward, but but because I do, I have a fairly decent mouthful of nice-looking teeth. They are not my teeth, of course. Most of my actual teeth collapsed into decay decades ago. What appear to be teeth in my face are actually carefully sculpted replicas attached via various magical means to the remaining roots of my original set. I’ve known people with perfect teeth. I am not one of those people. My original teeth appeared to be constructed of balsa wood, or possibly that strange pithy substance they pack into floatation vests.

Have you ever seen one of those housing projects where they take the remains of an old shack, and tear down all but one wall, and build an entirely new and much better house on the same property, keeping that one crumbly wall so that the project counts (for tax purposes) as a “remodel” rather than a “new construction?” Well, that’s a pretty fair analogy for my current dental situation. I have a great dentist, Dr. Mary, who maintains the integrity of the substructure as best she can, and when necessary attends any rebuilding, remodeling, and repair. Given the number of porcelain-covered gold crowns in my head, it’s a little surprising I even make it through metal detectors.

So whenever I get these romantic notions of a “golden age,” I always remind myself that people back then used to routinely die from tooth infections spreading to their brain. Whereas Dr. Mary has managed to prevent me from even being uncomfortable even as she has gradually replaced approximately a fifth of my skull.

So yes, I’ve actually had old fillings from childhood fall out, and I know the pain thus occasioned as the bare socket of raw nerves is exposed to the air.  But Dr. Mary always repairs them better than new, with modern materials that look so much like real teeth that you might think I’ve never had any dental work done at all.

But believe me, scenes like this still make me wince.

— Bob (Gabby) out.