The Loh Life

You Can't Handle The Tooth, Part One: Going Dental

Sandra Tsing Loh loses a tooth... in her dream.

It's that moment that comes only in dreams.  You know the dream I mean.  You bite into something and your tooth falls out.

I'm standing in my kitchen in mid-afternoon, looking out the window and dreamily snacking on Zankou white meat - white meat! - chicken, which seems to contain a small round pebble.  I pull it out - Sometimes with Zankou, they're in such a hurry with their gloves and Z-bags, the empire is expanding so quickly, a piece of turnip will accidentally end up in your falafel balls - Happens all the time - Perhaps it's a popcorn kernel or a piece of bone - I get out my reading glasses -

Which, in the first few seconds, does not help me because anything you hope a tooth would look like?  Blindingly white, gleaming, with a cheerful cartoon face on it comically wielding a toothbrush telling kids to "Floss, floss, floss?"

Uh, no.  This thing - in contour, in color, in sedimentary detail - is from a more prehistoric time.  There has been many a night out for this actor.  Regrets, it has a few.  It is a cosmic transmission from the dental hygienist of Keith Richards.

Fact is, I had already been playing phone tag with my wonderful dentist - whom I have not visited in perhaps three years - because I knew something was just a little bit shaky with my back left upper molar.  Or, as I've now learned to call it, "Number 15."  Not traumatic, painful, or unmanageable - just a bit... eccentrically shaped.  And, it occasionally made a small clicking sound.  Here's what I think happened to it: a metal filling from the Jimmy Carter era decided, after several decades, it was time to take a sabbatical out to the sea via a few gentle expectorations after brushing.  Because half the time my reading glasses are in another room, my relationship with my 51-year-old body has become unfocused and forgiving.  "Of course," I'll say as parts fall off, particularly if there is no pain, "we all need a break!  And, thank you for your loyal years of service!"

My wonderful dentist, Edward Lew, is exquisitely kind, gentle, and attentive - He has a well-deserved cult - But, he is also a father figure, which means he will be sorely disappointed.  Because he loves me, he will have to lecture me, and why not?  Instead of being a good person with regular teeth continually promising to floss more, I have become a bad person who breaks all her promises to good people.  And, who now has a big smoking crater as punishment.  I couldn't face Edward's disappointment.  It was time to find a new dentist.

Next week: A  Facebook deluge of gum disease, laughter, and secret phone numbers in Marina Del Rey.


blog comments powered by Disqus