Earlier this week, I was getting a manicure from a girl I see regularly, so she felt comfortable asking me a personal question. She has heard some pretty ridiculous stories from me by now so nothing is too personal when it comes to sharing potentially embarrassing information about myself.
“Have you ever had a dental implant?” she asked. “You mean like a crown or a bridge?” I asked. “A crown.” she responded. “Not only do I have a crown, I have the best story EVER about mine.” I exclaimed. She looked intrigued but also a little frightened that I had a story she wasn’t sure was going to be amusing or put the fear of getting this dental work done on herself. I shared my story with her which I had forgotten about until that moment. And of course, now I have to share it here. This event happened about 9 years ago, after I had gotten braces off that I had worn for a year.
When I was twelve, I was playing with a chocolate lab puppy my neighbor had recently gotten. The puppy was chasing me around their yard when I turned and lunged forward to play with the dog just as she jumped up toward me. The puppy clunked her head right against my front tooth. It hurt SO bad but I didn’t want to cry, so I just casually walked back home like I was done playing. I ran inside my house (and then cried) and showed my mom what turned out to be a bruised and loose permanent front tooth. She called our dentist, who suggested she bring me in right away. I had loosened the tooth from its roots and nerves, and needed a root canal. Since I was so young, he didn’t want to put a crown on it and said I needed to wait until I was a little older so my face and mouth would grow. Over the next couple of years, the front tooth had slightly changed in color and I finally got a crown on it.
About 10 years ago, I got braces, which I had on for a year. Once they came off, that crown didn’t quite fit the new shape of my mouth so I talked to my dentist about replacing it. He said it could be done but matching one tooth to the rest is difficult and it may take a couple of tries to get it right. He took a mould of my mouth, figured out the right color for my new crown, and made me a temporary crown on my front tooth. He told me I had to be careful with the temporary crown because it wasn’t made of porcelain like the permanent crown would be, then had me schedule an appointment to come back in two weeks when the permanent crown would be back from the nearby lab.
That two weeks with the temporary crown was awful. I was so self-conscious of the thing. It wasn’t the same texture as a real tooth, looked a little flat in shape, and loved to hold on to things like, say, the color of the coffee I had that morning. Somehow, I survived (let’s just say, I didn’t smile much during that time) and on appointment day, I felt like I couldn’t get there fast enough. As I was driving to my appointment, my gas light came on but I was so excited for my new tooth that I planned to just get gas afterwards.
My dentist had me sit back in the chair where he then pried the temporary crown off my front tooth (hello, jack-o-lantern mouth) and placed my new, glorious crown in place to see how it looked. He handed me a mirror and we both stared at it. “Uh..it seems a little…off…to me.” I said. “Yea, it’s not quite as white as your other teeth and it seems just a little too long.” my dentist responded. (Of course, I couldn’t resist making a joke about being A LITTLE LONG IN THE TOOTH. *finger pistols*) He told me he would need to send it back to the lab so they could make adjustments to it and I would need to come back in two weeks. “TWO MORE WEEKS WITH THIS TEMPORARY CROWN?!” I exclaimed with just a little too much panic in my voice. My dentist offered up another solution.
Since trying to match just one front tooth is so difficult, my dentist thought it would be best if I just went over to the lab with the crown they had made, so they could see me in person and know exactly how to match the tooth. He put the new crown in a box and had me put it in my purse so it wouldn’t get dropped, chipped or broken. Since I was going out in public, he wanted to put the temporary crown back on my front tooth so I would look, well, normal. “Just shove it in there” I said. “You don’t need to glue it. I’m driving four miles and they’re just going to take it out when I get there.” I said, reassuringly. He hesitated, but did as I requested, gave me the address, and called the lab to let them know I was on the way.
I hopped in the car, started the ignition, and saw that my gas light was still on. It had been on for several miles before I actually got to the dentist and the last thing I needed was to run out of gas and have to wait for assistance with this stupid temporary crown carefully balancing in my mouth. I nervously drove a mile until finally finding a gas station where I pulled in, got out of the car, and started pumping gas.
I was standing next to my car, admiring what a beautiful day it was outside, when a woman pulled into the gas station driveway and up along the other side of my car. “Excuse me.” she said, getting my attention. “Can you tell me how to get to the Huntington Library?” “Sure!” I said, happy to help. “You want to go out that other driveway, turn left….” As I was talking, I completely forgot about my temporary crown, unglued to my front tooth. I continued, “Go down about four…” And as if in slow motion, my temporary crown launched out of my mouth in a graceful arch in the air. My eyes widened in horror, yet somehow my quick reflexes threw my right hand out and caught the tooth mid-air, directly in front of me. And in front of her. I looked up at her, then down at the tooth in my hand, and I did the only thing I could think to do; I ducked down behind the car, shoved the tooth back in, and popped back up to finish giving her directions.
The woman sat there in her car, window down, expressionless. She didn’t even let me finish giving her directions. She just slowly rolled forward to the man at the next pump and asked him for the directions. He told her the same directions I was telling her, which she happily thanks him for, and left.
I watched her drive away and BURST into laughter. The man at the pump next to me asked if I was alright. I could only wave a sort of universal language of a “Yes, I’m fine” response. I got in my car and drove to the lab, tears of laughter running down my face. When I walked into the lab office, the technician thought something bad had happened to me on the way there. I took longer than she expected, considering my dentist had called to say I was on my way, not to mention I was wiping tears off my face. I recounted the incident to the lab technician who thought it was hysterical. As a person who makes fake teeth all day, she’s heard some pretty amazing stories on why they are needed but hearing a 35 year old woman talk about spitting one out while giving directions to someone in a gas station was a first.
I’ve always wondered if that woman that asked me for directions ever tells people about that one time she stopped at a gas station and talked to a crazy woman (who was probably a meth head) who spit out her front tooth while talking to her and she was so horrified by the scene that she just drove away. These things don’t get to happen to everyone, lady. If you’re not sharing, your friends are seriously missing out.