When I was a kid, I didn’t brush and floss my teeth as often as I should have, so when I was twelve years old, I had so many cavities needing fillings that the dentist decided to put me under anesthesia to fix them all at once. When I woke up, I had a mouth full of metal fillings, a metallic after-taste-lessness from the anesthesia, and a newfound respect for dental floss. Since then, I have never missed a day (or night) of brushing and flossing. Even if it’s two AM and I’m dog tired, I still do both.
But despite regular care (and unlike most people, I don’t mind going to the dentist), I’ve never had the best-looking nor whitest teeth. I have an overbite that I never had corrected with braces because I wouldn’t have been able to keep playing the horn. Still, I consider myself lucky to have had only one root canal thus far (which was necessary after a swig of ice water was so painful that my eyes started to water), and the only fillings I’ve had since the follies of my youth were porcelain replacements or repairs.
When I was in college, I had my wisdom teeth removed, and had to take two weeks off from playing the horn. I was fortunate in that only three wisdom teeth had formed, and the dentist took them all out at once, leaving gaping indentations that didn’t fill in for several years. I knew I was to have only a local anesthetic, so I took my portable CD player with me and blasted the Star Wars soundtrack so I couldn’t hear the drilling. And there was a lot of drilling – apparently one of my wisdom teeth was so big that he had to break it in half first before extracting it. I looked like a chipmunk with all the swelling, but still made it to class the next day.
The latest dental saga is my new nightguard, which I got just a few weeks ago. My dentist says that there’s evidence that I’m grinding my teeth at night, and which might be the cause behind some recent tooth sensitivity, so she recommended getting one. Several hundred dollars later (none of it covered by insurance, thank you very much), I have my very own custom-fit nightguard that fits over my bottom teeth. I’m used to sleeping with it now, although I apparently snore more. The worst part is waking up and having the brush the darn thing every morning, because it gets kinda slimy overnight. Yuck.