In about three hours I’m having a tooth pulled. I’ve never had that done before, but I’ve had nightmares about it for several years—actually, ever since the night the tooth actually broke. It’s a molar on the bottom right; I was crunching on an antacid tablet, and suddenly there was something foreign in my mouth that I couldn’t crunch. It was too hard. I took it out and… wow. Part of a tooth.
I was shocked. There was no pain. I went into the bathroom and peered into my mouth. Sure enough, there was no tooth surrounding the visible side of one of my bottom right molars. The old filling, done at least 40 years before, was still there, though, standing tough and alone.
I’d been laid off from work a month before. I had no dental insurance and my budget was already as tight as it could go. Screaming, actually. I didn’t have the spare hundreds I’d need for dental work, and all dental work, even the most routine, costs hundreds.
The broken tooth didn’t hurt. I could live with it. Once I found another job, I reasoned, and had medical and dental insurance again, I’d get it fixed.
I’m embarrassed to say that was several years ago. I never found another job. I was able to get medical care through the VA, as I’m a veteran, but they don’t provide dental care.
So I waited, hoping that the tooth would just endure. And it did—until about two weeks ago. The pain was minor, at first, but as the days passed it got worse and worse. Finally, I broke down and went to a dentist.
Let me say here that I have a lifelong terror of dental work. It’s lame, I know, but along with the cost, it’s the reason I let that tooth go for so long. I’d break into a cold sweat every time I thought about getting that tooth fixed. I had long, lurid nightmares about it. I’d wake up gasping.
And now, well, the tooth is sick. There’s an abscess at the roots. It hurts like you-know-what. So, the day has come. I’ll get through it; millions do.
Wish me luck?