It was my roughly annual dentist trip today, to yet another new dentist. Last November's visit produced 3 fillings, all three of which have apparently been botched (Grrr! This only reinforces my belief that an online rating system for dentists is essential), and now host thriving little colonies of subsurface bacteria who by this point have probably already gained tool use and may well be on their way to developing music and art. Their thriving culture is going to be cut short, but they are not the main event: they're not what has my dentist seeing little dollar signs every time I open my mouth.
My most broken tooth, and my dentist's Christmas shopping money, is the result of a root canal in October 2002 (or so my blog informs me, how useful to have one's life so comprehensively documented). Being more filling than tooth, it was always pretty weak, and about 3 weeks ago it broke off completely, leaving a great big hole. I described this to my dentist, who initally assumed I was exaggerating and said "well, chipping is not uncommon..." but then he took a look and said "Oh. It really is just a great big hole. Wow. Let's take some x-rays."
Said x-rays confirm that there is barely any tooth left at all to glue a fake tooth onto, but he's going to do his best (and from the projected cost, his best will apparently be fabulous), and in a series of subsequent visits he'll be drilling and making "root posts" (which sound worryingly agricultural to me) and bridges (possibly) and then a crown in my choice of gold (classy!) or some sort of metal-china composite which, given its projected expense, better make a sort of bionic ch-ch-ch-ch noise every time I chew.
I still think this is all, over a multi-year period, cheaper than drinking alcohol instead, but it's beginning to seem much more like I'd have to pull out a spreadsheet and some graphing software to prove that.
So remember kids: brush your teeth. Or you too will know the shame of hearing your doctor book an appointment for a new kitchen the moment you step out of his office.