I’ve been spending some quality time with my maxillofacial surgeon lately. As a neighbor and personal friend, I have been happy to cheer him on as he removed my older children’s wisdom teeth. I applauded his skill and then left him to shower my swollen 18-year-olds with smoothies and ice cream.
How surprised was I to later find myself in the patient’s chair! Three cracked teeth have totally changed my outlook.
How clueless was I to take for granted a full set of teeth? I now know what a “flipper” is and how uncomfortable it is to wear. CAT scans and X-rays allow my toothless skeletal smiles to glow across the big screen as I recline in the dental chair. The furrowed brow of my doctor causes me to gulp as I wait for his verdict.
“Another delay,” he says. “You need to develop more bone growth.”
In case you have the pleasure of being personally unfamiliar with implants, let me pause to explain a little about how they work. The surgeon basically jabs metal rods into your jawbone and you simply wait for the bone to grow around it. The teeth are then attached to the implanted parts, once they are solidly in place. Apparently mine are not.
How is it that I, who have the constitution of a draft horse, find myself so weakened? Did I not womp up the energy and determination to push out five huge babies? Was I not a calcium-producing machine as I breast-fed those babies for countless years?
My doctor, who is a few years older than me, pats my hand and says, “You know, at our age, we need to be patient. These things take time.”
I want to grind my teeth with frustration, but then remember that clenching is what got me into this mess in the first place. I’m envisioning a future of reluctant patience and tapioca.