Today I received my dentures and had a decent-looking smile for the first time in my life.
All through the process of getting my teeth removed, letting my gums heal and going through the impression and fitting process, this is what I was ultimately shooting for.
So with all that done, was it a good thing in the end?
Billy Crystal used to do a character on SNL called 'Fernando', whose motto was 'it is always better to look good than to feel good.' That is what I'm living at the moment in my first few hours with dentures.
During the fitting stage, I was struck by how thick and bulky the model was. But I consoled myself by thinking that the finished product would be lighter and thinner. I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, overall I think it looks great, but it doesn't feel great. The denture set is made of hard plastic that really makes it feel uncomfortable in my mouth if I do anything other than keep my mouth shut, which was kind of the whole point to getting dentures in the first place, amiright?
The biggest problem from my perspective is the hard plastic palate on the top plate. I know that it takes time to adjust but I have no love for that hard plastic feel. I've tried to talk, and I'm reminded of the bug wearing the 'Edgar suit' in MIB. The way he talks, the difficulties he has are similar to what I've experienced so far.
In other words, I'm going to have to learn how to talk all over again if I'm to be understood. While waiting for the bus to take me away from the dentist, I tried practicing the old lines 'She sells seashells by the seashore,' something I probably repeated often as a kid to get away from my stuttering. I had to experiment with where my tongue went to get a consistent 's' sound. The problem is that the teeth are not static and the spot changes from moment to moment.
So therapy time again.
Then I tried to eat for the first time. I was told by my dentist to cut up my food and chew from the back. That seemed somewhat pointless to me, but I found out why. Take your tongue or your finger and rub it against your teeth. You can not only feel your teeth on your tongue or finger, you can feel your tongue and finger on your teeth. There are nerves on it. When you eat, you can feel the food against your teeth.
With dentures, you have no such nerves, and the first time I bit down on some food, it was like I had no control. Add that hard palate there and moving the food around while chewing it becomes difficult. It sticks to the dentures.
Well, I knew getting used to it would be difficult, but I was really hoping it would be easier than it will be. The problem is everything feels so solid. If it gave a little, I'd be happier, but then the dentures probably wouldn't last long. The strange part is, it's only an issue on the top set. If I take the top out and leave the bottom, I'm fine.
Smiling it actually a bit harder than I expected. My bottom lip doesn't want to show the bottom teeth as well as I'd like.
It really makes me think that the whole I Choose Not To Talk campaign will become 'I don't have a choice, I can't talk with these damn teeth in my mouth!' So I'd better hope that campaign succeeds!
But I am nothing if not adaptive. I will make this work, because at the very least, I don't have the constant pain in my mouth because I no longer have rotting teeth there. So forgive me if you call and you can't understand a word I say!