Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chocolate...A Dental Danger?

Who knew?

One of my earliest memories involves chocolate...and my thumb. As an inveterate thumbsucker, I vaguely can recall standing in the kitchen of our little house in Metairie, Louisiana when someone (very likely the deep-voiced neighbor lady from across the street) asked me what flavor my thumb was...a reasonable inquiry, I suppose, considering the percentage of daylight hours that little thumbkin spent in there.

"Chocolate!!," I replied (matter of factly). Obviously. Is there another flavor?

But that was a previous era, century, and lifetime ago. These days, even old reliable pleasures warrant a second look.

Take for example, the recent spate of dental trouble I've run into...and the common denominator of these woes, which springs from the heavenly cacao bean.

First was the unfortunate encounter with the dark chocolate Ritter Sport bar...apparently so named because one must be a good sport to survive the trauma/drama that ensues when one breaks a tooth on this perversely low-cocoa butter content confection.

Alas, gentle readers, I am still In Process with my Protracted Dental Implant Saga. But the nutshell version, for those who may need a recap, is that innocently biting into the Sport Bar last June precipitated a bone-crunching noise and excruciating pain. One brief dental x-ray later, the verdict was in: right-hand virgin canine tooth was broken completely off at and below the gumline. It was a goner. And I haven't been a Ritter customer since.

Fast-forward to this morning. In the course of innocently going about my morning ablutions, I reached into the square glass canister on my bathroom counter and retrieved a foil wrapped Viactiv Calcium Chew...chocolate, of course...why would I be tempted by any other flavor? Allow me to pause and note that this habit was begun at the behest of my doctor who, noting my age, recommended I consume one to two calcium supplement cubes a day to help prevent bone loss. I was only following directions.

Popping it into my mouth, I looked for a towel and stopped, mid-reach. Whoa!! There must be a signficant quality control problem at the Viactiv plant! I bit into a rock-hard chunk of something embedded in the chocolate chew...the impenetrability seemed a positive indication that this was not rodent residue, at least. Quickly retrieving the flattened supplement from my now-sore mouth, I heard something ping onto the bathroom floor.

What else could it be, but a portion of Tooth #30, located in the lower righthand quadrant of Molarville? Ah...and there, sparkling in the slim shaft of sunlight coming from the window was...a very sorry, very ancient piece of silver amalgam filling, still clinging desperately to a fragment of half-century old dental enamel. Hmmmm. Neither planned for in the schedule, nor in the budget. My tongue immediately discovered a cruel cavern gaping open from whence this had come.

So, at present, the score is Intact Dentition - 0, Culpable Chocolate - 2.

It should go without saying that a couple of inconvenient, if painful, incidents could in no way preclude my chocolate intake. I'm hard-wired for the stuff. But, this is getting expensive, not to mention a bit embarrassing (although my dentist doesn't seem to mind).

I spent from 4 pm to 6 pm this afternoon in a dental chair as poor #30 was doused, dried, drilled, and drilled some more in preparation for a costly crown. After three Lidocaine injections, I was too numb to rinse my own mouth out, but didn't realize it until pungent green liquid cascaded from the working side of my mouth, all over my bib and jeans. Sadly, I was not wearing bib jeans.

In two weeks, I return to have my new temporary crown replaced with a real porcelain-over-gold one...which should match exactly with the resin falsy I still flaunt on my flipper day...may actually be replaced by an implant.

Is there any redeeming aspect to this repeated gap (I mean, gaffe)? Well, one can always count on my unintentional ability to supply comic relief here at the Circle H Ranch...

I take a deep breath and press my cell phone to my ear, hoping that I reach my Trusty Partner before he arrives at the office.

Mr. H: "Hello?"

Mrs. Dental Dilemma: "Uh, hi, it's me."

Mr.: "I figured."

Mrs.: "Well, I think I'm going to be costing you a lot of money again."

Mr.: "Hmmmmm."

Mrs.: "Well, you know how I'm supposed to have one of those little Viactiv chews every morning for the calcium?"

Mr.: "How expensive are they?"

Mrs. "No, no, it's not that---"

And on I proceeded with my tale as my mouth throbbed on.

Being the practical sort, Mr. H. was not angry "it's not like you could help it, these things happen...", nor was he overtly suprised...these things happen.

NOR was he anywhere near the vicinity of his office, I later learned.

Miss Cee [frolicking into the bathroom]: "Mommy, Daddy thinks it's so funny that you talk to him on your cell phone when he's still in the kitchen!! You should do that again...he really liked it!!"

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