It’s good to be able to smile again

Tuesday December 5, 2006

I do everything I can to avoid the morning and evening rush hours on the roads.

Apart from a feeling that I ought not to be taking up valuable and scarce road-space that’s needed by working people, it seems slightly daft to join the crush when, by shifting my travel time forward or back by an hour I can avoid it more or less entirely.

There are times and errands though, when my good intentions have to be over-ridden and, when I got a call yesterday to attend at the dentists very early this morning to have my new dentures fitted I didn’t hesitate. I had an urgent consultation with Graham and we decided it’d be best for him to hold back, come with me to the dentist, and then we’d drive over to the holiday camp a little later than normal.

And that’s why, at eight-twenty this morning, we filtered into the big crush heading into Bridgwater and the five-way traffic interchange carrying traffic to and from Taunton, Minehead, Glastonbury, Wells and Bristol.

“Is it always like this?” Graham asked.

“Oh yes. Sometimes it’s a lot worse. You just have to pray there are no accidents or the whole system grid locks.”

“Small wonder you’ll do almost anything to avoid it.”

“I’d have walked down this morning if we didn’t need to get you to St Audries. It’d actually be faster than driving through the traffic.”

“So it would seem.”

We got to the surgery with just a minute to spare and there I was, sitting in the chair, having the denture clicked into place and being instructed on the best way to take it out and replace it, and to clean it.

Didn’t take more than five minutes before I was walking out of the consulting room door, grinning in what seemed like an overly-wide smile. Graham was somewhat taken aback. “Lord, but there’s a difference,” he said.

We didn’t have time or opportunity to explore just what a difference it was, though, because all the staff at the centre wanted to see my new smile. I seem to have made an impression there over these past weeks, and they seemed as pleased as Graham and I am that I can smile properly again.

Back in the car and taking the quiet route out of Bridgwater I asked somewhat anxiously if it looked alright.

“They’ve done a splendid job and you’d never know those front teeth are false. They’re just the right kind of not perfect and look as though you simply have very good teeth that you’ve taken care of.”

“Wish I had done better by the old ones over the years.”

“That’s silly. We get the teeth we’re given.”

And that’s true, of course. Teeth come along with a whole bundle of genetic inheritances. Some teeth are good. Some aren’t. Mine were about average, I’d say. Still are, in fact, for the vast majority of them are still with me and chewing well even after all these years. It was the top front ones that gave up the ghost and which have needed to be replaced.

By the end of the day I’d practiced pulling them out and sticking them back in in front of the mirror, acquired and used the first of a supply of Steradent and a denture brush to keep them sparkling clean, and there’s now a glass tumbler in my bathroom cabinet where the shiny chrome-steel and acrylic creation rests while I’m sleeping.

They do feel rather strange and I’m having to be patient while I re-learn the art of biting and chewing. Haven’t had the courage to try biting into an apple or a crunchy bread roll yet but, give me a few days and I’ll be back to eating my preferred foods with my normal gusto. Even the Bionic Man took a while to get used to his new and improved prosthetics.

So. A major preoccupation of mine is now over and done with. I’ve been planning and working towards this for some years now, and suffering a fair amount of dental pain on the way, too. It’s done now, and I’m happy with the results. I’m especially happy that, by paying the bill in dribs and drabs over the past two or three months, I’ve cleared it without needing to touch my savings, including the cash I’d set aside for dentures. I gave myself a slight pat on the back this morning as I handed over the last instalment and walked out of the office all free and paid-up. And smiling. Ye gods and little fishes but it’s good to be able to smile again.


Learning to smile again



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