Meditation on a molar

When I lost a quarter of a molar just before our Independence Day potluck party, I was driven to ruminate on a youth of sugary sodas, candies (and not just retail–my mother’s favorite food group to cook was candy) and cookies. I grew up in the sixties. We knew the food pyramid back then, but vegetables and fruits weren’t yet an important group, more like ingredients in the dessert group. I think that was a real group back then.

The quarter lost was an old filling that had become unmoored, then afloat in the chewy goodness of an Acme baguette. Given it was a holiday weekend, and a long one, I was fortunate that the loss caused only inconvenience and a sharp edge on the remaining tooth rather than incandescent pain of an exposed nerve. I think that must have been the third filling in that same spot, so the nerve is probably long gone (and good riddance).

I was able to get it repaired, refilled right after Independence Day. My dentist squeezed me in–I think she called in a colleague who had the day off. With a little novocaine, drilling and filling, ultra-violet hardening and polishing, I was on my way in less than an hour.

I really haven’t had a new cavity since the seventies, just many breakages and recurring repairs of old teeth where the fillings finally just gave out, or caused further cracking in weakened structures. Sort of an obvious metaphor for aging.

The living teeth seem to adapt and (I hope) thrive on their new less-sugary diet with calcium supplements and flouride toothpaste and mouth rinses; shaking off the dangerous decades where they were always threatened by decay. Its the static fillings themselves that eventually decay, not able to repair themselves or rejuvenate. Which I guess is just the way of everything, of life itself–we even have to keep repairing and rejuvenating ourselves mentally, not just physically, if we are to remain in good health. Anything that tries to stay the same is headed for extinction; anyone that expects things to remain the same is bound for disappointment.

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