Striking it rich! Not!

Whirrrrrr.  Griiiind.  Cobble-clunk.  OUCH!!!  It didn’t really hurt.  My mouth was too numbed up to actually feel any pain.  What I felt was the vibration of the grinder.  And of course I could hear the sounds.  It startled me when the dentist struck gold.

This takes some explaining.  Long ago I had a problem with one of my molar teeth.  I was a poor college student and what I needed done was expensive.  So, enterprising as I am, I found a kind of discount dentist. 

Don’t get me wrong.  This wasn’t some back alley hack with a bottle of whiskey and a pair of pliers.  It was a student enrolled in the dental school of a very prestigious American university.  I was to be his practical project in big ass gold on lays.  And he would be watched over by his professor.

He must have gotten an A on this project and gone on to private practice somewhere in the Chicago area.  The work he did was beautiful.  Since that time I have yet to go to a dentist who didn’t comment on the exquisiteness of the work.  And it has never given me a problem.  Until now.

But it wasn’t the dental student’s fault.  It was mine.  For the past thirty years I have not been religious about brushing carefully and flossing daily.  My bad.  So, of course, some nasty bacteria got behind the tooth and worked it’s way between the tooth and the gold.  Rotting the tooth.

The dentist I go to now, who I’ve been with for nearly 25 years, told me the bad news.  “The tooth will die unless we act to save I now, “ he said.  “The gold has to come off and I’ll grind out the bad part of the tooth.  Then we can do a real nice tooth colored crown!”  And it only costs about a thousand bucks!  That’s more than five times what the original work cost.  Including that mother load nugget of gold.

What he didn’t tell me was that there was no way to get the gold off without cutting it off the tooth.  With the dentist’s version of a chain saw!  He’s always been real good about making my mouth numb.  That’s why I go there.  Can’t feel any pain.  But the sounds!  Good Lord.  How do you spell the sounds of grinding and whirring and vibrations of metal on tooth and metal on gold? 

I was ok with the regular grinding.  It had a certain sound and feel.  But the grinder slipped and hit the gold.  Totally different sound and feel.  A much deeper, richer tone.  I just knew he was going through my skull.  He apologized and switched to a smaller grinder.   How does this grinder, his two hands and the hand and tools of his assistant applying suction to my mouth all fit in there?

He finally got the whole thing off.  In two pieces.  The assistant said it looked like a couple of pounds worth.  I’m thinking to myself, “Let’s see, gold sells for about a bundle per ounce, so I’m gonna be rich!”  Eighteen carets to boot!

He busts my bubble by telling me its just scrap and I might get a hundred bucks.  Maybe I could have it made into some kind of jewelry.  I told him I’d had it for a long time and felt kinda attached to it.  I’ll just keep it.  The assistant put it in this real cute plastic box in the shape of a tooth.  She had to use the extra large size box.

The new crown won’t be the same as the old gold mine.  But I still have the nugget to look at.  I still don’t like the dentist.  That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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