Tuesday, May 24

What 22 Years of Terrible Gum Disease Have Taught Me About Pain, Shame, and Politics | Zoe williams

I I need to talk about my 22 years of chronic periodontitis and all the wisdom I have gained from it. People who have never heard of it are puzzled when you tell them that it is a fancy word for gum disease, while people who have heard of it, well, that’s because they have it too. We are more important this time, because our lives are worse.

Sometimes it is genetic, but more often because you smoke, and it is definitely not genetic in my case because my mother last went to the dentist in 1987 and she still has more teeth than I do. Thirty-four years ago, a dentist told her, “Next time, try not to be so neurotic,” and she never came back. That’s how good it is to accept criticism. That little it is genetic.

So it must have been the smoking. It was first identified by an oral health professional who said: “You are 25 years old, you have the bone density of a 45 year old person and you will not reach that age with teeth if you do not control it. “I gave this my undivided attention.” Does that mean if I were to meet a violent death and they were using my dental records to identify my body, they would be completely wrong my age and I may never receive justice? “” No “He said.” They said, ’25-year-old woman, who smoked a lot without a toothbrush.’ “I found it very critical. The look you’re looking for, when someone is in your mouth, especially if they are holding something sharp, is a infinite acceptance Feelings run deeper than fear and pain, your brain is also usefully splicing shame, vulnerability, and a compelling new knowledge of death, plus it’s very expensive.

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By happy coincidence, my younger sister was studying dentistry at the time; she was in her gum module, she needed guinea pigs for him root planing treatment I was looking for, and it would be free. So I went to her, but I must start by saying that we didn’t get along that well at the time.

Each tooth must be rigorously scraped with a series of tools, many of them connected to the network. “It doesn’t hurt,” he said. “Think of it like scraping barnacles off the side of a ship.” Well sure, that wouldn’t hurt at all, unless the ship was your tooth and the sea your gum, and you easily had as many nerve endings as Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man, just a less expressive face.

He eventually agreed to anesthetize me, but they were obviously saving the tutorial on injections for another period. By the time I was almost numb, I was around nine, very pale, and my heart was pounding, although I wasn’t scared, just annoyed. The supervisor approached, unbelievably fast, or was it time in and out as I slid into unconsciousness? He ended up leaning me almost face down in the chair because he thought I might pass out and stroking my hand like it was a rabbit having a nasty surprise. The worst thing was that we hadn’t told her that we were sisters – she thought that might not be allowed – so I had to feign infinite patience with the dental student, like a decent person behind a trainee driver, when what she wanted to say It was, “Did you do that on purpose?” Or: “Why didn’t you tell me you were bad at this?”

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Then when I was in my 30s, I met D. By then one of my teeth was twitching, such a cheery word applied to every other part of your body, a touch of death to a tooth, and I was quite used to the ghastly expression on a dentist’s face every time he opened his mouth. She never gilded the lily so I still found the experience quite exhilarating, but she had a number of very strong points of view, all of which I agreed with.

It was in the middle of the Greek debt crisis, and she is from Greece. “It’s absurd, this line that the Greeks are just lazier than the Germans.” “Gnnn!” “Per capita productivity is actually higher in Greece.” “Yng!” It turns out that the noise I make in affirmation, with my mouth open, sounds a lot like my polite howl of pain. So it took a couple of conversations to clear it up. Now, if something hurts or I disagree, I raise my hand and all the noises are consensus. It’s like a Momentum reunion. She also has a very strong sense of her own worth – “You see, I’m at the top of my field” “Grrr!” – which I find comforting and admirable.

The lockdown happened, she got pregnant, then she left the practice, she tried to refer me to someone else, and I said they didn’t understand: she needed someone at the top of her field, who thought that Yanis Varoufakis was excellent to deal with the European Council , but problematic as a democratic organizer.

D recently resurfaced, and life, certainly when it comes to my face, has gotten better again. I can’t stress this enough: find a dentist whose politics you like, and the fear, pain, shame, vulnerability, and inevitability of death don’t seem all that important.

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