Daunting dental visit capped by recycled jaw bone

You know how, sometimes, when you’re having a little dental procedure and suddenly they sorta just slip part of another human being into your face?

Oh, you don’t? I didn’t either, until last week.


Fine, I’ll retrace the painful steps for you. It was probably about 15 years ago when the next-to-the-last tooth on my bottom right jaw started giving me fits.

A horrendous cavity filling, followed by a root canal, then a crown, then another cavity fill for a crack in the crown and finally … total decay from the roots on out. That about sums it up.

Oh, that tooth — it’s been a pain in both my mouth and my backside since the Clinton administration. Bill’s. You know, because once that election was over, he just became president even though the other side didn’t like it. I digress.

That miserable rotten tooth was nastier than Monica Lewinsky until, apparently, it finally just up and croaked. Time of death … probably early this past fall, though I managed to ignore the pain until it became absolutely unbearable … and by which it had also become sufficiently infected.

Don’t get me started about the recession of the danged gum line around it; blech — worse than the 2008 market crisis.

So, yes, I finally, finally went into the doctor’s to have that horrid thing extracted a few days before Christmas.

Mm-hmm. That’s what I said. SHUDDER. ‘Cause nothing helps you enjoy that holiday peanut brittle, Chex Mix and Moose Trax popcorn medley like a gaping, bloody, stitched-up hole in your mouth.


This is actually nothing new; I have had dental drama for many, many years, having undergone wisdom tooth extraction that led to extensive oral surgery, about 743 painful root canals and a hideous gum resection procedure that I swear kicked me into early menopause. And THIS is why I stopped eating sugar, people.

Anyway, as I lay there, rosary firmly in hand and all-at-once freezing and sweating profusely in the chair at my dentist’s (whom I actually LOVE, BTW; it’s not his fault my teeth are as rotten as George Washington’s), it happened.

After what seemed like days of him rocking my head to and fro in what was clearly an upper body workout for the poor man to try and get that darned thing out of my head, my doc gently announced, “Now, Patty, we’ve inserted some bone down in there. It came from the bone bank.”

More awesome.

“You do understand — it’s completely sterile and … “ I cut him off with a big thumbs up and head nod since I, of course, had about 8,496 devices and rolls of gauze in and about my pie hole and couldn’t speak.

The bone bank. Sure, I get it; I’m an organ donor myself. Believe me, I’m more than grateful to the gentleman or lady whose jaw bone is now permanently implanted in my person. I totally appreciate the selfless act.

It’s just that when you stop to consider that someone else’s jaw bone is now a part of your face, well, it kinda freaks you out just a little bit.

Recycled mouth bits. BLECH.

It occurred to me that I am literally the walking dead. #TWD is more than just a comic book series and / or TV show to me now; it’s like, my head, yo.

The funniest part is, because I’m an organ donor, someday (and I hope it’s not for a good long while), this little number could technically be re-recycled.

Heck, for all I know, I’ve got George Washington’s wooden parts down in there? I’d like to think of it more fantastically. Like, maybe in a twistedly amazing switcheroo from far across the pond, I got an itty bit of Princess Diana’s fabulous smile somehow — and I’m a royal? Granted, a dethroned one, but still …

Hmm. Probs not.

Ah, well, whoever it was who gave me the chance to chew normally again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart … and the crevice of my gum line.

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist with a good heart but bad teeth. Contact her with suggestions for mushy foods at www.patriciakimerer.com.