Tooth of Doom

My tooth of doom. Number 15. Upper left, all the way in the back. My periodontist has been “worried” about this tooth for years. Every time I go he says, “I’m worried about this tooth.”

Every time he says that I think to myself: “I’m gonna die with this goddamn tooth, Buster.” He’s cute, but a little bit of an Eeyore, my periodontist. When he talks to me with his dental loupes on, I can’t figure out where to look.

Too many eyes to worry about.

Dentist wearing loupes

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t stay up at night worried about my tooth number 15.

But last night I was up worried about tooth number 15. In the last week or so I have been feeling a little, what? Nudgie back there? I opened my mouth to eat one day and there was some TMJ-ish kinda ouchy. But it went away. Then last night I woke up with a mean headache behind my left eye. Tooth of Doom acting up?

Dr. Eeyore  found a little inflammation in tooth 15, and also in my fang (tooth 11) so he squirted some antibiotic in both of those gum areas and I’m to call him in a week with a report. We shall see.

On the food front, I am still craving coffee, and especially so this morning when I woke tired from fractured sleep. I eyed my Verismo with longing and could practically smell the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.


I am going to have to talk to Jennifer about this.

I then drove to Culligan to pick up water for home and the studio. The spunky dude who loaded my car with the water read my bumper sticker and said, “I don’t get it.”

I said, “It’s sarcastic.”

My bumper sticker says: “At least the war on the environment is going well.”

I thought of trying to explain it to him. But no.

Today was Day 2 of my attempted yoga streak. I practiced with my late class and that totally counts, even though I feel guilty practicing with them. Better that than letting my practice die.

So I’m all set in my Fundies today.

Another day.



My big adventure today was a visit to my periodontist. This ordeal usually begins with a long sit on my meditation cushion, followed by some inspirational reading like, The Places That Scare You, and absolute and total silence in the car on the 45 minute drive there as I practice mental nadi shodhana.

I don’t know if he knows that I know what those “pocket numbers” he calls out to his assistant mean, but I do.  I pray for the LOW ones: 2.2,  or 3.2, and fear the high ones: no 6s, and god forbid  if he calls a 7, I immediately begin ujayii pranayam.

Today he tapped each tooth with his little silver mallet, slid the measuring tool casually along my gum line, told me last year’s surgery still looked strong, complimented me on my “beautiful hygiene,” and wants to see me again in September.

As I sat in the car afterwards, breathing normally, adjusting the air conditioning and locating my sunglasses, I happened to look up at the house next door to his office and noticed that it had ornamental dentils underneath its eaves.

Dentils.  How appropriate.

Dentil detail, Auburn

Dentil detail, Auburn (Photo credit: E.L. Malvaney)

The Solace of a Well-Nourished Practice

Yesterday, while I was having a whole battery of shots needled into my gums and the roof of my mouth, I wondered this: What do people in these kind of situations do if they don’t have a practice?

My periodontist is pretty cool. As he was shooting me up, he led me into a little guided relaxation, (which I didn’t need) but which was, nevertheless, very sweet and thoughtful of him.  This procedure apparently freaks the hell out of a lot of people, and he just assumed that I was going to freak out, too.

But I had already led myself into a very calm state on my drive to his office.  I can get myself into these states very easily now, and I’ll tell you, it’s a source of amazement and great joy. Granted, it’s taken me years of practice, but I have it down cold now.  I don’t dissociate with what’s going on, and I don’t “zone out” or go to a “happy place.” Rather, I stay with exactly what’s happening, and simply let it be, and  breathe into it without making up a story about it.

Yesterday, while I had the roots of my teeth scaled, I heard sounds, I did a lot of  spitting, and there was some wonderful light streaming into the room. The event had a certain duration, and then it was over.  I drove home in the same state I drove there, the only difference was I couldn’t feel the left side of my face.

I know everybody comes to a yoga practice for a different reason: stress reduction for some, more flexibility and balance for others, the hope for some toning and weight reduction for still another subset of practitioners.

Lots of people dabble in yoga and meditation, doing it for a while, then letting it go and moving to some other exercise modality. Sometimes they return and sometimes they don’t.

And that’s fine.  But yesterday I really wondered: what do they do?  What do they rely on when they have to encounter something uncomfortable and hard?  Something that hurts or causes an extended period of angst and turmoil?

What do they do if they don’t have a well-nurtured practice to fall back on in these times?

It must be pure hell.