A par­tial den­ture? It’s even worse than my car­diac surgery

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Wdp2 Agenda Letters Opinion -

TRY to grow old grace­fully… That is what peo­ple say. But of course it’s much more dif­fi­cult than you’d think, es­pe­cially when old age comes un­ex­pect­edly around the cor­ner and smacks you right in the face.

Or in the mouth, to be more pre­cise.

Any den­tist will tell you that when God went about de­sign­ing the hu­man body, He or She did a poor job when it came to gums and teeth. The mouth is a po­ten­tial disaster zone – the one place in the anatomy where the in­side of you meets the great out­doors – and those lit­tle seals oth­er­wise known as gums can do a poor job of keep­ing the big bad world out.

So bad things can hap­pen. I won’t go on about plaque or bac­te­ria, but things you can have no idea about when you are young can in­vade and harm this del­i­cate and vi­tally im­por­tant part of you.

If you did know, you’d do a lot, lot more to look af­ter and pro­tect your mo­lars, in­cisors and all the rest of them…

The Tooth Fairy should either leave a lit­tle mes­sage along­side the

Even a sin­gle false tooth is hard to swal­low, writes Martin Hesp

£1 coin (or what­ever it is nowa­days) or whis­per in a sleep­ing child’s ear… “I am the An­gel of Teeth, so here’s a quid for your loss – but I need you to know that one day, un­less your are scrupu­lous when it comes to look­ing af­ter your teeth, the Den­tal Devil will visit you. And that will be very un­pleas­ant in­deed!”

The den­tal devil in ques­tion is oth­er­wise known as a den­ture – a small but mon­strous thing with which, alas, I have re­cently be­come ac­quainted.

My sin­gle-tooth par­tial-den­ture is the worst thing that has ever hap­pened to me. And I say that as a man who had a ma­jor heart op­er­a­tion a year-and-a-half ago. An op­er­a­tion that went slightly awry which meant that I spent dou­ble the time out cold on the slab. An op­er­a­tion which beat up my heart so badly, that I’m told it will never fully re­cover. An op­er­a­tion that still leaves me out of breath when I’m walk­ing up steep hills. An op­er­a­tion which hurt like hell for weeks.

But no one ever heard me com- plain af­ter open heart surgery. I didn’t like it, but I sol­diered on and worked hard at get­ting back my fit­ness.

This sin­gle-tooth den­ture, how­ever, has taken over my life. It is hor­ri­ble. I hate – re­ally hate – hav­ing it in my mouth. Eat­ing with it is not only dif­fi­cult, but I swear I can no longer taste food like I used to. Speak­ing with it is dif­fi­cult and slightly painful. Or un­com­fort­able. But it’s there. Al­ways. Like some ter­ri­ble me­dieval tor­ture that is driv­ing me nuts.

At which point a large num­ber of West­ern Daily Press read­ers will say: “Wel­come to our world!”

I know that for cer­tain be­cause I’ve just done an In­ter­net search on the sub­ject of “get­ting used to den­tures” and I see that it is one of the most widely dis­cussed per­sonal health is­sues in the west­ern world.

Mil­lions of peo­ple have either par­tial or full den­tures, and mil­lions of peo­ple com­plain about them.

The gen­eral idea seems to be that you sim­ply get used to hav­ing th­ese in­va­sive things dom­i­nat­ing the in­side of your mouth. Call me im­pa­tient, but af­ter half-a-week I can­not see how that can ever be pos­si­ble.

My den­tist – who is an ex­cel­lent chap I trust im­plic­itly – did warn me that some peo­ple don’t ever get used to them. But what he didn’t fully de­scribe to me was the mere shock of hav­ing a den­ture fit­ted in the first place.

When one of my front teeth had be­come so wob­bly thanks to what he de­scribed as “bone loss” , he said: “We’ve got to do some­thing about this now. It’s an emer­gency. It might come out and you might swal­low it in the night. And choke. So we’ll do a den­ture with a cou­ple of clips to hold it in. If you don’t like that af­ter a few months, we might have to think about a Plan B.”

I won­der how many other mil­lions of folk are think­ing about this par­tic­u­lar Plan B at any one time on Planet Earth?

I can al­most imag­ine that if you were re­ally un­lucky and had to go for a full set of false-teeth, you’d just have to swal­low the bad news (so to speak) and get on with it. I can imag­ine a den­tist say­ing: “All your teeth have had it – wear­ing this full set of den­tures is the only way you are ever go­ing to chew food again.”

A big and bit­ter blow, in­deed. But at least it would be a case of “a se­ri­ous prob­lem re­quires se­ri­ous mea­sures”.

But the loss of one tooth? Why should that mean that half the top of your mouth (at least that’s what it feels like) has to have this hor­ri­ble plas­tic ar­ti­fi­cial ceil­ing just so one lit­tle gap can be filled?

I say lit­tle gap, but when I took the of­fend­ing me­dieval tor­ture de­vice out and asked my wife if I could get away with walk­ing around the world look­ing like the Gap Toothed Yokel from The Simp­sons car­toon, she gen­tly shook her head and whis­pered: “Very def­i­nitely not.”

So that’s it. Old age has come and hit me, very sud­denly, in the face. I am not the first and I won’t be the last. Like mil­lions of oth­ers, I shall go in search of Plan B, no mat­ter what the cost. And I shall be­come a “look af­ter your teeth what­ever you do” bore when I even­tu­ally have grand­chil­dren.

Martin wishes he’d looked af­ter his teeth bet­ter whenhe was younger

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