Last Wednesday I got a filling and a temporary crown. While I was numbed up I took a bite out of the inside of my cheek. The temp popped off that evening while I was eating dinner, but my dentist re-affixed it the next morning. The pain in my cheek and jaw got worse, however, and I was somewhat irritable over the weekend. I’ve only ever had one other crown before, and I don’t remember that it hurt like this. On Monday I called my dentist; he assured me this was normal and sure enough the pain and swelling soon subsided. Last night, I was flossing and I got careless and flossed the temporary crown. Sure enough, it popped off again. But the good news is that my permanent (gold) crown had arrived at the dentist’s office, so we were able to put an end to the drama this morning — almost a week ahead of schedule.
I like my dentist. I mean, he seems like a nice guy. I can forgive him for moving his office out to Old Metairie because he avoided getting flooded by a month or so.
But anytime I have dental work done, I have to deal with these nagging suspicions. My Grandma Mildred never had a single filling, or so I’ve been told, and she grew up before fluoride was a big deal. That made me think I might have good dental genes. Also, I don’t eat a lot of sugary foods. I only had one filling before age 35, and that was from a dentist I only saw once — I quit going to him after letting him fill that one cavity.
I didn’t see a dentist at all for a few years around the turn of the century. I started going to my current dentist in 2002, I think. According to my notes, I got eight fillings in two years. Since then I’ve had a few more, including two crowns. Often times the new cavities develop around the old fillings, which make me wonder about the wisdom of getting the filling in the first place.
In all this time, I’ve never had a classic toothache. None of this work has been based on my complaint or any pain in my mouth. It’s all predicated on my dentist’s diagnostic tools.
I believe in preventative medicine, but I have to wonder if all this is really necessary. As I said, I like my dentist. He seems like a fine, upstanding member of the community. I’m sure he adheres to the highest ethical standards of his profession. But still I wonder — is it all some kind of bizarre conspiracy?