Regular readers of this column know that I spend a lot of my time trying out new ways to look and feel good: spa treatments, hair styles, makeup techniques. It’s all fun and all frivolous – and I love every minute of it. Then, in one unlucky moment, I went from enjoying the luxury of beautification to needing a way to look and feel better. So I’m going to be serious this month, and talk about a different kind of beauty.
This is what happened. In April, I spent a weekend in Montreal: a picturesque, historic city paved in equally picturesque, but not-so well-maintained, cobblestone. Walking to dinner on Saturday night, one accident-prone girl (guess who) tripped over one broken stone (you know where this is going) and before I knew it I didn’t have any front teeth. At all. In a foreign country.
As far as these things go, I was in good enough shape. I wasn’t really bleeding except from my split lip, and I wasn’t in any pain (I’ve heard a lot of horror stories since then; the fact that my tooth broke a millimeter away from the nerve without exposing it can only be attributed to some kind of miraculously good luck). But I
had still knocked out both of my front teeth on a Saturday night. In Canada. And, if we’re speaking figuratively here, I was a little bit freaked out about it.
Fortunately, I have the nicest dentist in the world, who gives his patients his cell phone number for emergencies. I had only been to him for a couple of cleanings, but I didn’t hesitate to call Dr. Jeffrey Mansolillo of Mansolillo Dental in Johnston for some advice. He said that not being in pain was an excellent sign and that he would clear his Monday morning to see me – which, given my experience with other dentists, was a genuine surprise and an even bigger relief.
So trip cut short, I sat in Dr. Jeffrey’s chair Monday morning. The news was actually pretty good: he could fix everything, I wouldn’t have to go to an oral surgeon, and I would be leaving the office that day looking pretty close to normal (though I did take a lot of what can only be described as “hillbilly chic” pictures beforehand, which are hilarious, and which I will show you if you ask me). It was, though, going to be a long – and, he warned me, unpleasant – experience: drilling, filing, molds, temps, the dreaded root canal. But the fact that Dr. Jeffrey took a lot of time to fully explain the process and assuage my growing fears made me feel indescribably better. I had walked into his office terrified, and left knowing that I would be taken care of by someone who not only could create perfect new teeth for me, but who really wanted to take good care of me. That makes all the difference, and it’s why I wanted to write about this experience.
I left that day with New Teeth 1.0, which were made of bond, and would stay in place for about three weeks: a week before the unfortunately necessary root canal, and a couple of weeks after to allow for proper healing. They didn’t look precisely like my old ones, but they did look like normal, legit teeth, which was much better than the gaping hole in my smile that I walked in with.
Everyone I talked to about this, which, in my normally oversharing way, ended up being everyone I talked to, told me in gory detail how terrible my root canal was going to be. I mean everyone. Commentary ranged from “it’s going to be awful for three or four days, but you’ll be fine” to “it was agony for me, it’s going to be agony for you.” (Remember what I said about horror stories? I wasn’t kidding.) So I was understandably scared when it came time for the procedure. Like, shaking in the chair scared - that is, until I realized that the only pain I was going to feel through the whole thing was one tiny needle sting. I immediately relaxed and concentrated on what was happening, which turned out to be quite interesting. Dr. Jeffrey, realizing that he had someone in his chair who actually wanted to have the process explained, narrated the whole thing. I even made him stop to take pictures so I could see the inside of my tooth. I might be the only person to have ever left a root canal and immediately called a friend to say, in all seriousness, “that… was… awesome.” I don’t know if I just have some magic tolerance to pain or whether Dr. Jeffrey is just really good at what he does, but the recovery didn’t hurt at all. I took maybe six Advil over the course of three days, and I could have easily lived without them. Considering that I have a life crisis over a hangnail, I’m guessing that it’s the latter of those two options. (What? They’re totally painful.)
The lack of any real discomfort lasted through recovery, through the drilling down of my tooth remnants into tiny nubbins, through the molding process, through the acrylic set of New Teeth 2.0, through the removal of those and the installation of the permanent New Teeth 3.0. They’re made of porcelain and have been custom color matched by a lab in Smithfield. Before he cemented them, Dr. Jeffrey and I talked at length about the adjustments he wanted, making sure they were also what I wanted, and that I felt completely sure they looked and felt right. They’re perfect. And I feel unbelievably grateful to have been so well cared for by such a genuinely kind and concerned (and talented) person at the time when I needed it most. That’s a beautiful thing.