Chewing Peppermint: a Cautionary Tale

Pulling Off a Crown
Is Child’s Play

starlight mintA few days before Halloween, I was binge eating starlight mints when something horrible happened inside my mouth. I didn’t know specifically what was wrong, but it felt like someone had put peppermint candy all over an anvil and stuck it in there. I had lockjaw. And I was afraid to swallow the candy for fear the anvil would go with it.

What seemed like an hour was probably more like 3 seconds. After I came to my senses, I realized I had pulled a crown loose. It was still partially attached to the tooth and sticking up at a 45-degree angle like a car with its hood up. Come to think of it, it felt as big as a car hood. Scratch the anvil reference.

In a panic, I headed toward the dentist’s office, calling on the way.

Dentist’s office: How may I help you?
Me: Ah glabbo ah gibbeldy ca gibbit wibbo gamababa!
Dentist’s office: You were eating a starlight mint, and pulled off a crown?
Me: Waga.
Dentist’s office: When would you like to come in?
Me: Wibble fubbill wubble! (Loosely translates to “Right Freakin’ Now!”)
Dentist’s Office: We’re booked solid today. How is 9 in the morning?
Me: Wabaaaaaagagalaa!

There I sat, mid-afternoon. I cannot swallow. I cannot close my mouth because there is a 1973 Chevy Impala hood in there. I cannot eat or drink until the next morning. I cannot talk (and therefore will not be able to make sarcastic remarks during Dancing With the Stars). This can only happen to me.

And then it hit me: If I could pull a crown off with a starlight mint, maybe I could use another one to push it back on.

It was a breakthrough in dentistry. Bang! Crown. Back. On.

I nearly sprained a finger dialing the dentist to cancel the appointment.

That night, of course, it came off completely, leaving a crater the size of the Grand Canyon. But it didn’t hurt; well, it didn’t hurt much. It sure didn’t hurt badly enough to reschedule the appointment immediately. I would do it in a day or so.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into a couple of months. But I finally did reschedule. Now I’m sitting in the chair under the we-have-ways-of-making-you-talk light. The dental assistant held out a little paper cup, and I dropped the crown in it.

Dental assistant: When did it come off? Yesterday?
Me: No, it was longer than that.
Dental assistant: How long?
Me: (We’ve all lied at the dentist’s office. Don’t judge me.) Three weeks.
Dental assistant: Well we can try to put it back on, but since it’s been that long… sometimes teeth shift. I can’t promise anything.

Tears started to form in my eyes as she left. I imagined how much my teeth could rearrange in two months. I would certainly need a new crown. Of course insurance pays something like $2.75 of it leaving me with only $937.25 to come up with. No big deal.

I tried to man-up when the dentist walked in.

Dentist: When did it come off, yesterday?
Me: Boy, it got wintertime on us, didn’t it.
Dental assistant: Three weeks ago.
Me: I had to break out my big coat, yessiree I did.

So he stuck it back on, end of story. Of course, I had to ask him if I was the oldest person who ever pulled off a crown with a piece of candy.

“We get it all the time at this time of year,” he said.

Loosely translates to: “Yes, you’re at the top-end of the age range of people who mess up their teeth with Halloween and Christmas candy.”

So move over, all you pudgy 9-year-old Eddie Mundellos out there. There’s a new sheriff in town — a sheriff who flosses daily. Yep. Every day.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him:

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