While I was growing up in the lower middle-class/upper working-class income bracket, going to the dentist wasn’t a high priority in my family. Hell, I only went to the doctor’s office if I was too sick to walk. That situation, combined with alleged bad genetics on my mother’s side, left me with a mouth full of not-so-great teeth. They look OK: they’re straight, I never had braces or a retainer, and they’re kinda white. When I went to the dentist this spring, however, I found out that I have at least four cavities in my mouth. I’ve never been told by a dentist that I don’t have cavities.
One of those cavities I’ve had for nearly ten years. When I was twelve (which, until about a year ago, was one of the last times I’d gone for a check-up), the dentist told me I had a cavity in one of my molars on the lower left side of my mouth. The odd this about this molar, though, was that it was a deciduous tooth (that is, a baby tooth) without a permanent tooth to replace it. This is probably one of the few times a dentist has said, “Now unfortunately, you won’t need braces.” If I’d needed braces, the tooth would’ve been pulled right then and let my crooked-ass teeth fill in the gap; since I didn’t, I’d need to get an implant to prevent — you know, I don’t even remember. My mother figured that surgery to that extent would be too expensive and too time-consuming for someone my age. So, since the molar was going to be sticking around for a while, the dentist filled the cavity with a silver filling instead of the temporary stuff they usually use on baby teeth.
So I’m twenty-one years old and I still have one of my baby teeth. Since I had dental insurance through my mother for about a year and now I’m on state medical assistance, I’ve been able to keep up with dental check-ups. Last week, I was supposed to have a check-up at the dentist’s office a few blocks from my house. Unfortunately, it turns out that the town I live in seems to be the only town in the entire fucking state of Minnesota that doesn’t have an in-network dentist’s office — for fuck’s sake, there is an oral surgeon’s office literally FEET AWAY from my house! Fortunately, my hometown is nearby, and my old dentist accepts MA.
The reason I’m writing this now, I suppose, is because I need to get this fucking baby tooth pulled. For a few years, it didn’t bother me at all. It’s always been a bit loose, but lately it’s been almost loose enough to pull out myself. In addition, it’s been aching off and on for around five years, and for the last few months it’s been more on than off. I’ve been chewing almost exclusively with the right side of my mouth for the last week. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m calling the dentist tomorrow. Wish me luck.