May 15th, 2002


Dentist Week at Gordonzola LJ

Caution: This entry may disgust some as much as it amuses others

While eating a potluck lunch at a local goat dairy, I realized my crown was missing. I’ve gone through a ton of dental work over the last year, and actually had other temporarily cemented crowns fall out on me while eating, but I’d never lost one.

I looked all around for it. I had been eating cherries so I thought that maybe I had spit it out on my plate. No luck. I looked through the grass around the picnic bench. Nope. I looked everywhere I could think of but I couldn’t find it. Finally I came to the conclusion that I must have swallowed it. I called my dentist and made an emergency appointment for the next day.

I spent the rest of the day slightly depressed because I’ve already maxed out my dental benefits for the year. The root canal and crown on that tooth had cost over $1000 when I got it done originally. I wasn’t looking forward to spending a few hundred on a crown that I hadn’t budgeted.

But then I started wondering what the standard procedure was in this case. How much is a replacement crown anyway? Would I have to check to make sure that it came out instead of lodging somewhere in my digestive track? Would they suggest that if I found it, I could sterilize it and use it again? And if they did, would I do it?

It’s a really interesting and subjective question. How much money would I have to save to search through my shit for the next few days and actually put that piece of material back in my mouth? Theoretically, there would be some point where I would consider it. I believe it could be properly sterilized after all. I mean, obviously $10 wouldn’t be enough. But I think $10,000 would be. That means that there is a certain monetary value that I would do it for.

I started asking my friends what they thought. People had really different reactions. The phrase "shit-eating grin" came up more than once. Some said they’d do it to save $100 or more, no problem. Others said they’d never do it, but surprisingly to me, most of them recoiled at the idea of mining their shit for the crown. Personally, I didn’t have a real issue with that, (though it didn’t exactly thrill me either) but I was hung up mentally on the idea of putting it back in my mouth, no matter how much sterilization was involved.

And then I tried to picture the details. Even if reusing the crown wasn’t an option, I figured I might still have to know whether or not it got out of my system. How does one go about doing that? I’m sure I could work out a system in the privacy of my home, but what am I supposed to do if I had to shit in public or at work? Did I need to stick my hands in some unfamiliar toilet bowl? Did I need to bring along a container so I could examine it later? How does this work?

Luckily, I only had one day of worrying over the details. When I say my dentist, he told me he’d just charge me for the lab costs of the replacement crown, about $100. While I didn’t share my many conflicted thoughts on the possibility of reusing my old crown, he assured me I didn’t have to worry about passing it. "It happens all the time!" he said, in an annoyingly jolly way.

God, I hate dentists.

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