I was going to lead off this entry with a long quote from Martin Amis's autobiography, Experience, but when I reorganized my bookshelves I stupidly put it up top, far out of reach. I was going to quote Amis not because I'm pretentious (though I definitely can be), but because he's the only person I know of who's gone through the same dental hell I'm about to embark upon.
Though Martin Amis and I have lousy mouths in common, that's about it. For one thing, he was able to finance his horrifying procedures with a 500k advance from The Information. Me, I'm liquidating my meager retirement account, maxing out credit cards, and buying Lotto tickets. (I'm not even kidding about the Lotto tickets—though I only buy one or two a week—gotta be in it to win it!) Incredibly, Amis was derided as a vain traitor by the British press when news of his surgeries came to light. So far the press—British or otherwise—hasn't had anything to say about my impending dental procedures. In fact, I think there's a good chance they're not even aware of my existence. (Note to tabloids: though my advance was approximately 1/1,000,000,000th of Amis's, I also wrote a book!)
To help you understand the extent of what I have to look forward to, here's a passage from Bill Peschel's blog entry about MA's mouth, aptly entitled, "The Mortification of Martin Amis":
Maybe it's a good thing I can't reach my copy of Experience because I've already read those pages about thirty times. Lucky for me, I don't need them all ripped out of my head, just a bunch from the front upper jaw (i.e., the most visible ones). I'm told the fake teeth they have today are not your granny's dentures, so maybe it won't look so bad. My gums will then be packed with bone grafts (had several of those already—not fun) and then implants will be put in. It's a long, excruciating, unbelievably expensive process.
I've been dealing with the lead-up to this for a few years now, but it's all coming to a head (ha!) in the next month. I can't sleep, nor can I think of much else. My poor boyfriend came home the other day while I was on the phone with my dentist, sobbing my face off. He was positive someone had died. Yeah, that was my dignity, along with my already anorexic financial situation and my sense of humor.
I felt vindicated to read that Peschel deemed Amis's experience mortifying, because the one thing that nobody around me seems to understand is how deeply humiliating this whole process is. I've had shitty teeth my entire life. My parents could only afford braces for one of us (there were five) and so they had to pick who had it worst. Back then, that wasn't me, but they've only gotten worse as I've aged. In a land where a gob full of shiny chiclets is the norm, I've got a mouthful of problems.
And I know you're probably thinking WAH! What a fucking baby. I get it. I've watched enough people I love (and loathe) battle scary, life-threatening illnesses to not be aware that in the grand scheme of things, getting my mouth reconstructed isn't that big a deal.
But right now, it really feels like it is.