It is most delightful to have my molar back. As in my back right lower jaw, which has been missing that tooth since last April, when a painful, resorbing root sent me to my periodontist for an extraction. No fun, that. Nor has it been a treat to eat with a large gap in my teeth in the grinding department. I’ve had to be extra careful for months to thoroughly chew my food, mostly on the left side, to be sure I can actually swallow safely.
Ah, the joys of scleroderma dental problems. And esophageal dysmotility.
But my new post and crown, inserted on Monday, fits perfectly. It’s an odd feeling. What is that thing in my mouth? Oh, it’s a molar! No longer can my tongue wander into the gap for a little exercise. No longer must I consider whether to mush food with my lower gum on the right or chew on the left. No longer does my right cheek sink in ever-so-slightly over my missing tooth.
Fitting the crown and inserting it proved to be the usual challenge in my tight mouth. A month ago, I had to help the dentist and his assistant insert the molds for my upper and lower jaw, because it was easier for me to figure out the right angle than for them to try without stretching my lips to intolerable tension. Yesterday, it took more lip contortions and some deep breathing on my part as my dentist screwed in the post for the crown—not easy for either of us. But it’s done, and it feels amazing.
Turns out, my dentist told me, he had just needed an extraction himself of one of his front teeth. He has a partial, temporary bridge, so you can’t tell, while he traverses the long process of implants and replacement. I found this encouraging, not only because he uses the same periodontist that he’s sent me to (definitely a good referral), but also because one of the next teeth I may lose due to scleroderma resorption is also a near-front tooth. We’ve been monitoring it for years.
Hopefully, it will continue to take its time. But it’s reassuring to know that, whenever the inevitable comes, I won’t have to look like Alfred E. Newman for months until the procedure is complete. Meanwhile, I will enjoy having a full set of choppers. Carpe diem—or should I say, carpe dente? Maybe not. I don’t want anyone seizing any more of my teeth for as long as I possibly can.
Image: Stefan Steinbauer