September 26, 2022

At a dinner party about a month ago, after biting into a brownie, I felt something hard on my tongue. Nuts? But I hadn’t added any nuts to the recipe. I spit into the palm of my hand and to my shock, I stared at a porcelain crown.
This. Was. Bad.
I regretted the brownie, regretted every decision that inadvertently led to this moment. A dentist friend at the table assured me that it would be OK, but said to avoid chewing on that side of my mouth and to securely stow the wayward crown.
Later, I learned it’s not uncommon; the “permanent” cement that holds crowns in place is not permanent after all. Friends told me that their crowns have popped out multiple times — a hassle, they said, though manageable. Initially, though, I felt as though some basic law governing how my body operated had been upended, as if my hand and foot had switched places.
It didn’t really hurt, but the exposed tooth was sensitive when I sipped tea. I tried to enjoy the rest of the evening, but I felt as exposed as that tooth. Subdued, too, as I contemplated my mortality.
That may sound a bit melodramatic, but I’ve witnessed older loved ones suffering when their teeth deteriorate. They’re forced to limit their diet to soft foods or chew on one side of their mouth. Research suggests that the oral health of the geriatric population is “generally deficient,” with a prevalence of cavities, periodontal disease and tooth loss, “with direct effects on the individual’s general quality of life and well-being.”
My dentist told me to avoid sticky or crunchy food for a few days until she could schedule an appointment. I blended everything, from soups to stews to smoothies. The drinkable meals were palatable enough, but unappealing in shades of brown and taupe. And since the blender pulverized the fiber in the fruits and vegetables, I learned, I was prone to feeling hungrier again sooner than if I’d eaten them whole.
To fix the problem, I had to visit the dentist three times — first to examine and temporarily insert the popped crown, a second time to get measured for a replacement after it was decided a new one was needed, and then finally for its installation. Twice the anesthetic left me drooling and numb. I worried I might choke as I attempted to swallow my meals.
The entire mishap rattled me, a portent of what’s sure to come: a time in which I will suffer from frequent dental issues and other age-related health problems. Not for decades, if I’m lucky, but eventually.
The tooth hurts.
With the half-century mark looming, aging has been much on my mind. While catching up with other late Gen Xers who will hit age 50 in the next few years, we’ve started sharing news about various health issues: pancreatitis, perimenopause, haywire thyroid, back and foot aches, and hearing problems, especially among musicians.
We joke about squinting at menus, holding phones at arm’s length to read the screen. A professor friend told me she searched for her reading glasses during class, not realizing she was wearing them on her head.
My husband, slightly older than me, has been reminding me for a while now that I need to plan a bash befitting his reaching this milestone next year. He vividly remembered his father’s 50th, which featured an impersonator of Roseanne Roseannadanna, Gilda Radner’s “Saturday Night Live” character.
What niche impersonator should we book? Should I plan a trip away with our friends? Hire a food truck, make reservations to dine and drink somewhere fun? The pandemic that has gone on and on makes the future murky in all things, but it’s also important to celebrate when we can. To make much of time, and gather rosebuds while we still may.
It’s a lot to chew on.
Your weekly guide to Bay Area arts & entertainment.
©Copyright 2022 Hearst Communications, Inc.

source

Leave a Reply