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Site Notes: Broken Teeth to Make Postings Erratic

On the morning of the Paradise fires of 2018, as I was rapidly evacuating from my house,  I made a much too quick and very wrong move around an open car door and knocked out a number of teeth.

This event compounded and extended dental issues that had been plaguing me for some time. After years of living with the associated dental disasters, I have started the long …long… and drastic process of repairing the damage.

Not only is this expensive but it is also the sort of thing that, at different points in the procedures,  takes some recovery. Not much, but from time to time some and I am notoriously bad at dealing with this sort of thing. My core belief is “Why be miserable when you can be unconscious?”  Hence I may not be able to post as normal as this ordeal runs its course over the next few months. 

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  • bruce wayne October 6, 2021, 11:12 AM

    I hope your ordeal is the least painful as possible!

  • Foo October 6, 2021, 11:38 AM

    Ouch. Take care of number one, Gerard!
    You are worth it!
    We’ll be here when you are ready, gotcher back!

  • Mike Austin October 6, 2021, 11:40 AM


    Teeth? You speak of teeth? Where do I begin…

    I was innocent of dental hygiene until the US Air Force made it a condition of service. Ok then. A dentist at my permanent base—Webb AFB in Texas, now long abandoned—showed me a book, “The Tooth Trip”, written in 1972:


    It was because of this book that I discovered the proper brushing of teeth, using floss and waterpik, rinsing with fluoride, and so on. I practiced the regimen laid out in the book, and so probably saved my teeth and my gums.

    Over the next 30 years my dental visits were few. I had no insurance but no toothaches either. It was around 1990 that all the dental work I had had until that time started to break down: all those old amalgam fillings began to disintegrate and crumble into sharp little pieces of material when I ate. I was forced to use the services of Costa Rican dentists, Peruvian dentists, Argentine dentists, and—shudder—Honduran dentists. Believe me, you have not lived until you have sat in the chair of a Honduran dentist.

    Upon returning to the states in 2004 and beginning work at a Charter School in Oklahoma City, I was introduced to an entirely “New Thing”: employer paid medical insurance. Wow! How cool was that! When I went to the first US dentist I had visited since the military, he took a look at my mouth after taking a series of X-rays, and said to me, “$12,000.” “What?” said I. The dentist said, “It will take $12,000 to completely repair your mouth, removing all of your fillings and replacing them with ceramic, doing at least two root canals, and getting a series of crowns.” I asked him when all this would start. He said, “Right now.”

    It actually cost me $6000 because the insurance paid the rest. But all the work was done and my teeth and gums are tip-top. It took two years all told.

    When my skeleton is found 1000 years from now, archeologists will marvel that my teeth are intact.

  • EX-Californian Pete October 6, 2021, 12:03 PM


    I don’t know what’s more painful- getting dental work done, or paying the sky-high costs of it.
    We’ll be praying that it all goes well, with little discomfort and rapid healing.

    The only physical damage I got from the fire was a small burn on my scalp, and a 2-1/2″ oval-shaped burn on my right ankle that resembles the big “O” on the “Ohio State Buckeyes” logo. I guess I’m pretty fortunate in that respect.

    You say that the dental treatments might make your postings EROTIC?
    Hey- then how about starting off with a few topless pics of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders?

    Kidding aside, take whatever recuperation time and R&R needed to heal up proper. We (your loyal readers) understand, and will always be here and have your 6.

  • PA Cat October 6, 2021, 12:17 PM

    “When my skeleton is found 1000 years from now, archeologists will marvel . . . ”

    Archaeologists have already found some surprises in Civil War-era cemeteries in the graves of Confederate soldiers. Dentists serving in the CSA were at several disadvantages: 1) all four dental schools in the United States at the time were in the North, as were the publishers of dentistry textbooks; 2) the Northern blockade of Southern ports led to a severe shortage of gold to use in fillings. Consequently, Southern dentists had to use a strange assortment of metals to fill teeth. There is a 1996 article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association titled, “Dental Fillings in Civil War Skulls: What Do They Tell Us?”
    The abstract states, “This article discusses the dental techniques, methods and materials used in the South during the Civil War based on the dental restorations found in the skulls of four Confederate soldiers. The skulls display a variety of dental filling materials, including thorium, lead, tin and tin amalgam. These materials were used at a time when more valuable materials, such as gold and silver, were not readily available in the South.”

    Thorium is a very strange substance to use in dental fillings– it’s weakly radioactive, and if taken into the human body, its radioactivity is absorbed by the skeleton. It may be that the Civil War dentists confused thorium with tin, as both metals are silvery in color, moderately soft, and can be easily shaped into fillings.

    As for lead in dental fillings . . . one wonders how many of those soldiers developed lead poisoning in later years, assuming they survived other types of wartime contact with lead.

  • ghostsniper October 6, 2021, 1:39 PM

    Last time I was unconscious I didn’t remember a thing. weerd
    If you have a toothache try this:
    Take a swig (1 oz) of vanilla extract and swish it around forcefully on the affected tooth for about 30 seconds.
    Don’t be too surprised if all the pain is gone in less than 10.
    Don’t swallow it.
    You can thank me later.

    • EX-Californian Pete October 6, 2021, 2:09 PM

      Ghost- hey, thanks! That stuff works pretty good from what I’ve heard.
      I had great results (years ago) using Clove Oil- although a bit hard to find outside of “Organic Health Food” kinda shops. Pricey, too.
      But the one that was always best for me is good ol’ Anbesol (or the generic clones) – a “topical anesthetic” that works on contact. It even works great for “DIY surgery” like digging out a deep wood or metal splinter, or stitching up a gash on your skin.

      • Mike Austin October 6, 2021, 2:44 PM

        I always take oil of cloves when in the wilds. Works. Every time.

        • ghostsniper October 6, 2021, 5:24 PM

          I found out about the oil of cloves when I cracked a tooth on a taco shell on a weekend. It worked but wore off quick, like in an hour. My sister told me about the vanilla and it was amazing how it worked. Pain ceased for more than 18 hours til I could get to the dentist Mon morning.

    • Vanderleun October 6, 2021, 2:13 PM

      A nice lead but not for me at this point. To repair the damage without going to the two year process of implants is going to require dentures and a bridge. Many extractions because of where the breakage and other issues have made it the most practical item in terms of expense.

      • Mike Austin October 6, 2021, 2:49 PM

        I get that. Dental pain is…well, pain. And money. Ask for nitrous. It will still hurt, but you won’t care.

      • gwbnyc October 6, 2021, 3:32 PM

        for pain, per my wife’s dentist:

        1000mg acetaminophen
        600mg ibuprofen

      • ghostsniper October 6, 2021, 5:25 PM

        Geez I don’t envy you at all. Good luck with it.
        I hate tooth problems.

      • Arty October 6, 2021, 5:56 PM

        I know what you’re going through. After several ever-larger bridges installed over a period of about 35 years, I had titanium pins screwed into my upper jaw 4 years ago and a 9 tooth bridge mounted on them. It was an ordeal but it feels and looks like my natural teeth. The girl that made the bridge did a stupendous job. And no it wasn’t cheap. Good luck.

  • Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat October 6, 2021, 2:22 PM

    Ouch! Get well soon!

  • Sundogjax October 6, 2021, 2:52 PM

    How Much?
    Lotta folks love your work.
    Be we could assist, others will confirm.

  • jwm October 6, 2021, 3:14 PM

    Dental anything is a whole lot of no fun.
    I’m due soon.
    (The Most Mysterious Skinamalink expresses his thanks, and sends a vibe your way)


  • gwbnyc October 6, 2021, 3:23 PM

    I’m 68 years old and had the proper number of teeth in my mouth for the first time about nine months ago after a haltsome stop/start, don’t care/care pilgrimage that began when I was twenty-six.

  • Anne October 6, 2021, 4:32 PM

    I suggest you get a second opinion. Go a less expensive state (Idaho, MT. OR) and see if you can find a better second opinion. I hate to see you give up getting dental implants or good caps just for the economics.
    FYI. Just had a root canal $1700. Caps here five years ago were about $1200 each, I believe that is the same price or close to today’s cost. Here we are seeing an increase of dental implants and the prices have dropped quite a bit. I have neighbors who have made that choice for the cost just a little more than caps. Get out of CA and go someplace else for a better estimate and proposed plan. Wishing you well.
    P.S. A little something for you to smile at. Of course, the pain in my tooth became very severe on Friday. No dental appointment until Monday. Saturday afternoon I figured the hell with the Tylenol, an ice cold double martini would be nice. “Ice Cold” should paint the picture for you ! 😉

    • Vanderleun October 6, 2021, 5:42 PM

      I did get several estimates — for a bit I even considered Mexico — but in the end, since this involves many extractions and fitted dentures I thought it wise to stay closer to home in case of complications.

  • LP October 6, 2021, 4:39 PM

    Definitely take care of yourself. I had some dental work done this summer and I was told to take it easy, but since I was feeling fine I didn’t bother to take it easy, and then what should have taken only a few days of recovery ended up taking much longer. So take it slow and listen to them when they tell you to rest!

  • FWIW October 6, 2021, 5:53 PM

    I used to have dental insurance through my work. After that I got it through AARP. You have to have it for a year(?) before using it for expensive things, and pay monthly premiums, but I figure it’s worth it if/when I ever need any of the expensive things. Fortunately I haven’t, yet. I do floss every night before bed. I think that helps a lot. I’m sorry for your situation. Sometimes it seems as though “it’s just one d@mn thing after another”.

  • azlibertarian October 6, 2021, 9:02 PM

    I feel for ya, my friend.

    About ten years ago, after spending about 2 years of being intermittently and increasingly sick with one thing or another, believe it or not, but I was on verge of having a salivary gland removed to get some relief. Turned out what I needed was a garden variety root canal.

    Then about 9 months later, I needed another root canal in the same tooth.

    Then the tooth had to come out and the implant went in.

    Not long after the implant went in, that too failed and had to be replaced. It’s been working fine since all that, but it was a couple three years of being very uncomfortable.

    Dentistry is nothing to fool around with. Like divorces, a good dentist is expensive because he’s worth it.

    I’ll be thinking about you.

    • ghostsniper October 8, 2021, 2:12 PM

      Speaking of root canals, the one I broke on the taco shell is the one I spent $1500 on 15 years prior with a root canal and a crown. At the time my wife said I should have just had it yanked and she couldn’t believe I was gonna spend that kind of money on one tooth. For the first time is almost 38 years she was right. I now have a hole in my gums and a bigger hole in my ass pocket.

  • Casey Klahn October 6, 2021, 9:05 PM

    And I thought just paying for my kids’ dental was painful enough. Doesn’t sound fun for you, and I endorse your plan. Get well, Gerard!

  • Lance de Boyle October 7, 2021, 5:07 AM

    Sorry to hear of your dental woes, Gerard.
    Perhaps you’ll grace us with a before (“Geez, meth teeth!”) and after (“Wow, shiny and white!”) photos.

  • Annie Rose October 7, 2021, 6:56 AM

    Wishing you as pain free and speedy recovery as possible! Many are uncomfortable going to a dentist. But more uncomfortable still is the pain of long ignored issues. Bacteria in your unhealthy gums can shorten your life through heart disease. My mom constantly harped on me to be sure and take good care of my teeth. She spoke from experience. She didn’t have a toothbrush until she was 14. By the age of 19 she had to have most of her teeth pulled and was fitted for dentures. My dad had problems with his teeth all his life. I still have all of my chompers, but have three crowns because of structural/ jaw issues and stress. Waterpik makes a water flosser that has greatly improved my gum health. I got one in plum purple, one of my favorite colors, just to make the chore a little more enjoyable.

  • ghostsniper October 7, 2021, 8:32 AM

    A neighbor dood had shitty teeth all his life and at age 56 had all that remained yanked with the idea of getting full implants. After the yank his whole head ached for weeks and when it finally healed enough to the implants he didn’t want to endure more pain and got dentures.

    Both my parents got dentures in their early 30’s and I always figured they were in my future too. Now, at age 66, I still have most of them but after snapping one off a few years ago on a taco shell I don’t eat hard stuff any more. Yeah, I play 38 special stuff on guitars but I don’t particularly want to look like a band member.

    Between the ages of 10 and 15 our son had over $7k worth of dental work which we paid for out of pocket. Extractions, temporary implants, jaw spreaders, contactors, and several sets of braces. That poor child. By the age of 20 he had stellar teeth that belonged on a magazine cover.

    Sometimes I wish I didn’t have teeth, hair, and fingernails and toenails. Seems like one or the other always has something going on.

  • Aggie October 7, 2021, 2:05 PM

    Sorry to hear of your troubles Gerard, I hope it goes as well as it possibly can, that you feel no pain, that you recover quickly, and that the team is nice to look at.

  • Steve October 8, 2021, 10:25 AM

    Vanderluen –

    Almost 50 years ago, after an early life when I lived on a farm with well, not fluoridated, water, I had a mouth full of “silver.” I went to a dentist whom I had met as a teenager when we worked a night job as slugs. He advised gold crowns. Expensive! I took a car loan and spent it having him install 16 full gold crowns. Two half days a week in the chair for 3 months. Today, after a life of trouble free teeth, I feel sorry for people with ordinary good teeth. Mine are bionic, superior, and as noted above 1000 years from now whoever looks at my jaws will know that I lived in a hi tech society, and they may even be able to identify me.

    The moral of the story: plan long. Spend what it takes. Get the best. You will have a better life. You won’t be sorry.