My Tooth is Crumbling Out of My Head, and I've Been Ignoring It For a Month: What Are You Ignoring?

Don't we all play the avoidance game with tolerable unpleasantness that if inspected by a professional could lead to intolerable unpleasantness?
Publish date:
December 13, 2013

I should have have paid attention to this tooth sooner.

It started about a month ago.

I was having really horrendous menstrual cramps and I decided to take one of the Vicodin I had left over from when I had Pleurosis. As the painkiller kicked in, and my cramps became a beautiful dream, I decided that oral hygiene was the next necessary order of business.

As weird as it sounds, cleaning my teeth has recently become one of my favorite parts of my nightly ritual, so attending to my teeth while flitting around on painkillers was my idea of a very satisfying Friday night. I never said I was fun.

You see, lately I've been kind of obsessed with oral hygiene. I wasn't always like this. But it's become my way to facilitate avoidance.

I have absurdly sensitive teeth to the point where every teeth cleaning I get at the dentist I request Novacaine. When I don't, every scrape of metal, every pass of that whirring, spinning torture device they use to polish my teeth, makes me jump with pain.

I know this sounds like I'm overreacting, and just paranoid, but my last dentist, upon taking a look at my x-rays actually said, "Whoa." I don't know much about teeth, but apparently I have extra large "pulp chambers" and extra thin enamel (all thanks to the wonder of genetics) and my teeth therefore actually ARE that sensitive.

I'm the person who upon seeing someone BITE INTO AN ICE CREAM CONE, or even open a package with their teeth, will wince like most people do when encountering nails on a chalkboard. Incidentally, nails on a chalkboard doesn't really bother me.

So now I'm fanatical about keeping my teeth clean. The way I see it, the cleaner I keep my teeth, the less I'll have to deal with the dentist. The less I have to deal with the dentist, the less they will pick and scrape and drill my teeth. I know most people aren't overly fond of going to the dentist, but dental appointments fill me with the kind of dread usually reserved for audits or baby showers .

Somewhere along the way I deluded myself into thinking that with enough floss, toothpaste, mouthwash, a tongue scraper, and a fancy electric toothbrush, I'd be able to avoid the dentist beyond my semi-regularly schedule teeth cleanings. (I know I need to be better about this, but like I said, appointments fill me with DREAD.)

However, since I have "the teeth of a senior citizen" as one dentist once said to me, try as I might I cannot keep my teeth from attempting to fall out of my head.

So anyway, back to my party of painkillers and teeth grooming.

Taking to my dental floss, I started carefully flossing, in my painkiller induced haze, each and every crevice between my teeth. When I got to that top right back molar, the floss got stuck.

Figuring there was an extra tough piece of food stuck between my teeth -- I had been eating something with sesame seeds on it earlier -- I simply redoubled my flossing efforts and tugged a little harder to dislodge what I thought was the offending food particle. On the last tug that finally released the floss, something in my mouth gave way.

This is not a pleasant feeling.

I felt a hard, tiny particle fall onto my tongue, and upon inspecting it I realized it was a part of my tooth. Well, a piece of a filling to be exact. Running my Vicodin laden tongue over the tooth, the whole thing seemed to give a little, and I found a small jagged pocket where the bit filling once was.

Shit. I started to freak out.

I spent the next hour poking at my tooth with my tongue, desperately hoping that I wouldn't have to make an emergency appointment with my dentist. I realize now that much of the "my teeth are falling out of my head" sensation was because of the Vicodin, but at the time I was pretty sure I was doomed.

When I woke up the next morning and poked at my tooth some more. I was relieved to find that it wasn't actually loose, and while the jagged pocket was still there, my tooth was more or less intact.

Crisis averted. This was something I could live with, and happily ignore.


Over the next few weeks, bits of my tooth continued to fall out. And every time I flossed, try as I might to be extra careful, the floss would catch on something jagged by that tooth, and I'd go to bed feeling like my tooth was loose again. But there was no pain, so obviously my best course of action was to continue to ignore, ignore, ignore.

Then last night, I really did it.

As I flossed around the "Scary Tooth" as I've come to think of it, the floss got hooked on something. It was stuck in my head.

I tried a few gentle tugs and it didn't budge. I tried to pull the floss out long ways, but it kept getting snagged on something. Shit, shit, shit. Images of me yanking my entire tooth out of my head, root and all flashed across my brain, and I started to panic.

"This is what you get, Hung. This is what you get for ignoring the Scary Tooth," I kept thinking.

Finally, not able to take it anymore, I just started to gently tug on the floss in a downward motion, come what may.

POP! The floss finally came out, but so did most of the bottom section of my tooth.

WHAT THE HOLY ASS GRABBING FUCK? I guess I had a cap on that tooth? Is that what that was? All I knew was that the lower half of my molar was now partially separated from the rest of my tooth.

Standing with my mouth agape staring into the mirror, I made the decision to slowly close my mouth and see what would happen. Preparing, myself for eye popping pain, I pressed my teeth together.

Another POP! and I felt half of my tooth snap back into place, while at the same time littering my tongue what I can only assume are more tooth particles. Touching my tongue to my tooth again, I found that while my tooth was more or less back together, and there was no pain, the tooth itself was sharp, craggy, and pointy.

As I write this I've spent the better part of the day sweeping tooth detritus off my tongue, and have made an appointment with a dentist to do something with the the horror in my mouth.

But I can't help but feel foolish, and a little childish. Do actual functioning adults really let their teeth get to the state where they are crumbling out of their head? Sure, I'm scared of the dentist, but did I really think that my electric toothbrush and my dental floss could thwart the ravages of tooth decay or whatever it is?

Truth be told, I somehow thought it would just go away. I know, I know, stupid, stupid. But don't we all play the avoidance game with tolerable unpleasantness that if inspected by a professional could lead to intolerable unpleasantness (or so we perceive)?

Come on, we've all avoided things like this in the past. I've told you my latest dummy move, what's yours?

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Are you as paranoid about the dentist as I am? Have you ever had a tooth crumble or fall out of your head?