My Third Bridge

I have a bridge. It’s in the front of my mouth. It’s the nemesis to my smile….and a large reason why anyone rarely finds me on “that end” of a lens.

This is the hell I’ve been through…through visit 1 of 2 for my 3rd bridge.

  • As a kid, I went to an old-school dentist. He was mean; he did that jerk/pinch thing to my cheek during Novocaine shots. He believed in hiding stuff from his patients. I’m a question-asker; I’m far more comfortable with answers than with mysteries. However, his hygienist, Denise, was really nice and gentle. For for the first few years of my life, I actually liked going to the dentist.
  • Denise taught me well, and I took good care of my teeth. They gave me those red pills to chew to show you where you missed when brushing. I flossed most of the time. I did that nasty dental rinse stuff. It was a big waste of time.
  • After I lost most of my baby teeth, they did some xrays and found that one of my upper, next-to-front teeth (tooth number 10) didn’t have a permanent “bud” behind it. It’s my dad’s fault. His aunt has the same missing tooth on the other side. Since I’m the collective worst of my parents, it’s no surprise that I got his teeth.
  • I had too many teeth in my head, so they were crooked. They decided to pull seven teeth, several of them were permanent teeth. They pulled the baby tooth without the permanent. Remember, he’s old-school?!? He wanted to keep “as many of my real teeth as possible”. WTF? I had several excruciating dental visits where they painfully numbed up an entire side of my jaw and pulled several teeth at once. I bled like a sieve, usually through two batches of cotton packing and down the front of my shirt. #classy
  • I had my first braces-spring at ~12 years old. It interfered with my ability to play the flute. Since my mom expected me to be a prodigy, this was a problem. To say it interfered with my social life in the hell known as middle school would be a gross understatement. Since there are no pictures–not that I would post one, anyway–I’ll try to describe this “appliance”. I had braces. Not the cute ones that everyone else had. Yes, every other braces-wearing teen I knew went to the other Orthodontist in Paris.) No. I had the big/ugly braces that my old-school orthodontist (recommended by my old-school dentist) liked. Add to that, a hole in my mouth where a tooth used to be. And not a hole “back there” where someone could only see it if I laughed really hard. No, right up in front and almost-center. Furthermore, to keep my teeth from shifting into the hole they made, I had a spring. Not where the tooth should have been. No. That would be too simple. I had a spring on the wire of the braces. It stuck way out in front. It took me weeks to learn to put my lip back down over it without the use of my hand. I even wore rubber bands when I didn’t have to just to cover up the spring/hole. Did I mention this was middle school? It was terrible.
  • Finally, at some point in high school, long after everyone else got the same right of passage, it was time to take the braces off. They left them on me for as long as possible to “train” my teeth into place. I learned to eat ice and chew gum and all the things you aren’t supposed to do with braces. I learned to do this because they were in my mouth for so frackin’ long. Anyway, I got to graduate to a retainer. Joy. At least the spring would be gone. The retainer came with it’s own drama. Of course. Because I had a missing tooth, they put a fake tooth on my retainer. Remember when everyone would put their retainers in the cute little boxes as they sat down to lunch. I couldn’t do that. Nor, could I talk, laugh, or smile at lunch. Because there was a big hole in the front of my teeth. Same story, second verse: I learned how to eat with it in. I only took it out twice a day…to brush it and my teeth. At least, after another learning curve of “now my mouth doesn’t have braces”, I could play the flute better.
  • Finally, my Senior year, I whined hard enough (like I had to get my tonsils removed after my Freshman year because my old-school pediatrician decided I would “grow out” of the ear aches and tonsillitis) and they were willing to consider the bridge that had been promised when I was ~9 years old. Mean, old-school dentist was afraid I was not finished growing. At that point, I hadn’t gained any height in years. I was doing growing “up”. Even if I gained an inch or two during college, which is highly unlikely for a girl, how much of that would affect my mouth? Dumbass. He finally gave in and made me a bridge.
  • I’m 5’3″ and was a skinny-mini back then. He made a bridge that could have fit Warren Sapp (#theU). It was ridiculous. And the wrong color, too. I had to re-learn how to put my lip back down without my hand…..all over again. I hated it for the whole time I had it. The installation was traumatic. Dr. Old School gave me Novocaine, but nothing else. The sounds, sights, and smells are still haunting.
  • Somewhere in between, Daddy got all his teeth pulled. He even apologized to me for not being as sympathetic as he should have been when they took my seven. He was miserable. But, after it all healed, he got a great set of dentures that he loved. His teeth were terrible and our old-school dentist had a new/mean hygienist. Daddy saw her one time and never went back. Thanks to him, I didn’t have to go back to her, either. Mom was unrelenting until Daddy agreed with me. He asked around and found a new dentist in Deport, Texas. He was great. In college, and for the first few years I lived in Bryan, I scheduled my cleanings in July and December so I could go to him. I was his longest-distance patient from both cities.
  • [Sidenote: every dentist I had, every time, every first visit, carefully asked: “Who did your bridge?” I would always say, “…a po-dunk Paris, Texas dentist, and I hate it.” Then, they would sigh agreement. It was that bad.]
  • The good/bad news is that the damn bridge I hated lasted for 15 18 years, about 5 years past it’s expected life. So, one day when I flossed “through” it, it was both elated and pissed off.
  • I visited “the” dentist in Bryan because he’s “new-Army”[1].  I knew I was in trouble when they offered me a glass of champagne in the waiting room. His plan was a bridge for the entire upper front, so both sides would match. Oh, and he doesn’t take any insurance. Yeah. Right. I laughed my ass out the door.
  • Old-school DDS #2 (in Bryan) was a nice man with a lovely staff, at first. He came highly recommended from someone who isn’t supposed to recommend DDS’s, but violated the professional ethics for my unusual case. Turns out, s/he was wrong. OMFG! He was a great guy for cleanings, exams, and x-rays. He was too old-school to give me more than Novocaine [ha! it only took me this far into the story to spell that word correctly!] and Nitrous Oxide, which didn’t do a damn thing for me. At least his dental assistant, a friend of our niece, was there. She is a very nice person and is good a her job. So, two fights[2], more haunting sounds, sights, and smells, and a debit card FUBAR (BBVA Compass Bank) [3], and I was done. And, I loved my new bridge. The Dental Artist in Bryan did a superb job and it was perfect. Turns out, it was installed incorrectly.
  • .
    Oh and I totally forgot this part first go round: I had an abscess (a cavity on the root of the tooth) and had to have a root canal. Abscesses can be caused by decay (nope) or trauma. The only trauma to the tooth was the installation of the bridge! The Endodontist had to drill through my bridge to repair the abscess. There was a significant risk that he could break the bridge and I’d have had to start all over. Thanks to all the gods and goddesses of every faith ever that didn’t happen! Valium is a fun drug.
  • Furthermore, the DDS took his Porche-choo-choo train to crazy town, his staff left en mass, and his new hygienist was reincarnated as the bitch from my very first dentist. She was so rough on me in my only cleaning with her that I was sore for several days. And, she yelled at me the whole time about what a bad job I was doing of taking care of my teeth. Bullshit. She did such a bang up job that I didn’t see a dentist again for ~2 years.
    UPDATE:I saw our niece’s friend at a wedding a few months later and asked her what happened. She filled me in and confirmed to me that all the hygienists think his new girl is mean.
    So, when my current DDS carefully asked, “Who did your bridge?” I defended it, “A Dentist in Bryan and I love it.” The xray showed a cavity forming under it. It was installed incorrectly letting little mouth germies get in there. Damn. Fuck. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck. It’s only been ~4 years since I went through bridge hell!!!
  • I had decay under the caps. And, Dr. Old School #2 used so much “glue” that my current DDS had to grind most of off instead of scoring it, removing it, and grinding the residual adhesive. Nice. I guess Dr. Old School #2 wanted it to stay there for 15 18 years, too. #fsckr.
  • So, Wednesday night, I took some good drugs and drifted off into la la land where my dreams resembled either Disney’s Fantasia or an acid trip (so I’ve heard) or both. Micky wasn’t there, but everything came in bright colors and repeating patterns. And, I can’t remember any more than that. No wonder so many visual artists take drugs. I could be famous if could replicate that shit.
  • Thursday, I took the other pill and E drove me to new-Army dentist. First, he filled a molar where an old filling had come out. Then, after, a full hour of grinding on my #9 and #11 teeth, the bridge finally came off. Then, came more grinding for the rest of the adhesive and cleaning for the decay that was forming underneath. Ew. Yes, I made them let me look again. I guess they made a mold for the bridge, but I don’t remember that part.
  • Then, my two-hour time slot was up, so my DDS had to leave his assistant to do the temporary bridge. Had it not been temporary, I’d have asked for a discount! j.k. She’s super nice and really good at her job. During the terrible locations for the Novocaine (all the way in the back and up front under my sinus cavities), she patted and stroked my hand and coached me to breathe while tears ran down my temples. Damn that hurt….but she made it hurt just a little less. She should moonlight as a labor coach. I hear that hurts like a bitch! 🙂 Anyway, she worked and worked on the first bridge, but then gave up and made a new mold. The second one was just about perfect right away. I asked how durable they are. They aren’t good for more than a couple of weeks. And, now, I can tell. It’s “plastic” feeling and catches food easily…and I’m being really careful.
  • E brought me home. I watched the entire first season of Weeds while he napped. We were both fully alert just in time to watch Mississippi State give LSU a run for their money
    …and I gave a small running commentary on the game.
    L on Twitter
  • I go back in a couple of weeks for the “permanent” bridge. I have more drugs, but that installation should be a breeze, by comparison. Hell, even I could probably take this temporary bridge off and clean/prep the stubs.
  • Here’s hoping for three things:
    • It’s as beautiful as the one they had to grind out,
    • they install it correctly, and
    • that it lasts as long as the first one did.

I still don’t smile, much. I guess I never had the chance to learn how.


[1] Aggies say old-army for old-school. It harkens back to their all-military days. So, they say new-Army, too. I don’t think anyone says “new-school”.

[2] “If you aren’t going to give me more than just Novocaine, I’ll find a dentist who will.” and “Yes, dammit, I’m over a grand out of pocket, I am too sure I want to see the hole and the tooth ‘stubs’!”

[3] I lived with the cracked bridge for a while, and we pre-taxed the money during open enrollment. So, I was sitting pretty on an extra ~$1200 in my checking account. They swipe the card. It’s declined. I panic. I call in to check the balance. It’s there (and “accessible”). They try again. Declined. WTF? I call BBVA Compass Bank and learn that their “courtesy” policy is to limit daily spending/cash to $1,000. WTF? Well, I was at the dentist, had the money I owed them, and needed them to authorize the payment. Guess what they can’t do? My DDS had to charge $900 that day and the other $300 the next day. And, I had purchased something that morning, so I couldn’t get cash or pay for dinner that evening, either. #fsckrs. Who the hell are they to tell me how much I can spend in one day? It’s not like it was being spent in Bolivia. No one steals a credit/debit card to spend $1200 at a dentist!





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