I recently got a crown. We all know there only a few ways to get a crown at my age. Taking your chances with “food” from Burger King. Getting swept up in some RomCom-like plot where you discover you are the long lost royal heir to an obscure yet powerful nation. Winning a beauty contest. Going to the dentist.
To be clear, I got a dental crown.
I’d like to say it was my first coronation, but I don’t like to lie. And since some of you have read all my blogs, you know that I’ve been insanely disappointed by the aging of my teeth. After all that brushing and flossing coddling, they have inexplicably turned on me. The very weakness of teeth makes me question the existence of an all-knowing God. I’m sure if she does exist she’s bellied up to some bar somewhere cradling a beer and confessing to the bartender that she royally screwed up on teeth.
Yeah, this isn’t my first dental crown rodeo. But this crown is personal.
I found out I needed it over two years ago. Apparently, I had started to clench my jaw at night, putting over 250 lbs of pressure on my teeth and one of the little fuckers cracked. For some 43 years before that, I slept peacefully at night, letting my teeth rest along with my mind. Until suddenly, my sleep was the equivalent of the WWE wresting match where my molars were taking quite a beating from my subconscious. I’d like to imagine that at least my subconscious had a badass persona with a cool costume and an on fleek smack talk game the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin. He’s a wrestler. Yeah, I looked him up.
Now, I’m not a dentist or licensed therapist, but clearly when you crack a tooth sleeping it’s a red flag that you have some unresolved issues going on. Two years ago was probably the right time to address them, not to mention fix the tooth, but since I’m me, that’s not how it went down at all. Not to be outdone by my subconscious, I had my own inner dialogue smack talk and thought, “To hell with it.”
I successfully ignored both the tooth and my issues for a good two years. Winning!
Well, that’s not entirely true. I did add my cracked tooth and underlying unresolved issues to my repertoire of oh-so-candid party shtick. I did it with just enough humor and vagueness to make my friends laugh until they were like, “Wait, are you okay?” I was, but I wasn’t, but I was, wasn’t I?
Really, how do we know if we are okay?
I’ve got to tell you, I feel like that’s half the problem these days, just identifying if we are okay gets more complex the older we get. It makes me miss the days where everything I owned fit into a U-Haul, and I had sitcom problems. You know, the kind of problems that can be worked out with heartwarming hilarity in 22 minutes, allowing for a couple of cute GAP ads with adorable twenty-somethings swing dancing in khakis and white button downs? Yeah, those days are long gone.
So, I kept ignoring it. For a year. Then another year. I was fine. Of course I was fine. I have three kids, a husband, a job, and a blog. I didn’t have the bandwidth to not be fine. But I wasn’t. Even my tooth knew that much. If it could have talked it would have been like, “Umm…dude, you’re not okay. I’m like cracked all over the place. I’m one bite of taffy away from crumbling right in your mouth. Can you get your shit together before your subconscious destroys me completely?”
Fair point. But still, I ignored it.
I ignored it until my last dental check-up where my ever-so-patient dentist explained to me what would happen if I continued to ignore my cracked tooth. The bacteria would get inside the cracks, causing an infection, leading ultimately to a root canal. He had me at root canal. Okay, okay…I’ll fix my damn tooth.
I’m happy to report that I got my crown like a real grown-up. Despite my legendary fear of the dentist, I showed up and survived the inhumane shot of Novocain that seemed to explore the deep recesses of my cheek, and powered through the skull vibrating drilling of my tooth like a champ by visualizing myself in a happy place on a pier by the sea on a beautiful, crisp sunny winter’s day. That was that. Mission Accomplished banner, thumbs up, we are done here. Right?
I’m sitting in the waiting room afterwards, smugly congratulating myself for dealing with my tooth, when a man strikes up a conversation with me about our respective dental procedures. You know, the super flirty stuff of the middle aged. He told me he got two crowns… show-off! Then he told me he had been under a tremendous amount of stress about his family and started grinding his teeth. I was like, yo, stop stealing my blog! Then he said what I didn’t want to hear, but needed to hear. He said we were lucky it was just our teeth. This burly man with a scruffy beard went on to tell me that the only thing that saved him from something worse like a heart attack or cancer was getting honest about his issues in therapy.
Come on, people. Can’t we all just hang out on the sunny pier by the sea in denial together?
I sat there with my sore jaw and newly minted crown, listening to him bravely talk, without any worry of it being any sign of weakness that he needed to work things out in therapy, and I knew he was right. But who has time to deal with dental and mental health? Me, I guess. I realized I only had so many teeth. And, surely, getting honest was better than a root canal…or a heart attack…or cancer. What a cheerful new life slogan! But, seriously, it’s so cliché to be the martyr mom who never takes care of herself, and I hate clichés. How bad could honesty be? I mean at the very least it wouldn’t involve a drill, right?
So, I’m “doing the work.” I love saying that. I picture myself wearing coolass hipster glasses making a pensive face nodding slowly at each new pattern we uncover about my fabulously complex, creative, troubled mind. Okay, maybe it’s not that glamorous, but it is helping me figure out my non-sitcom issues, so I’m pleased. And I have to imagine God is pleased too. She’s probably like, see, I made teeth weak all along to save you from yourself.
Sure you did, God. It’s okay. We all live in denial from time to time. Your next beer is on me.