A Most Unholy Tooth


The vegetable tagine was delicious, except that I could not eat the cauliflower and carrots-tangledpasta.net
The vegetable tagine was delicious, except that I could not eat the cauliflower and carrots. My daughter share her humus with me.-tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

The Evil Tooth Fairy has been vested upon me. Had I neglected regular dental care throughout the years, I would admit that I deserved what my tooth fate of the past months, but I have not, and I do not. As the obedient patient of my darling periodontist, I followed his verbal and written instructions to the letter. Thus, the extensive oral surgery, including bone grafting, he performed has been healing nicely. Finally, ten days ago, he gave me the green light: I could partake of my evening glass of vino rosso with dinner, and eat crunchy food and something other than baked seafood.

I decided to celebrate this gustatory comeback with a juicy cheeseburger and French fries on Mardi Gras. This way, Friday abstinence throughout Lent would bother me not. How wrong I was.

Settling in the comfy green leather chair, balancing the aromatic cheeseburger, a double no less, and fries, and wine on a small tray, I began watching one of my favorite movies: The Thin Man, with William Powell and Myrna Loy. About three bites into my heavenly cheeseburger, I felt a crunch and sharp pain. At first, I deduced it was a one-off. Alas, it was not. For when I sunk my teeth into another bite, searing pain erupted. Valiantly, I forged ahead, chewing the cheeseburger and fries on the right side of my mouth, for waste not, want not, as the old adage goes. After waiting almost two months to eat a treat like this again, and imbibe my pinot noir, I refused to concede defeat.

The next day I had a scheduled teeth cleaning on Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence. After x-rays and exploration, my dentist decreed that the tooth on the upper left side had fractured. “What?” I cried in despair. This was a tooth unsullied by a filling. Back I trekked to the periodontist, antibiotic prescription in hand. Had I not been in agonizing pain, wild horses would not have dragged me out into the snowstorm the next morning. Barely getting out of the garage and onto the side street, for no snowplow had yet passed this way. I crept along at twenty miles an hours in a whiteout, headlights on, praying the SUV stay on the road. Since the periodontist had several cancellations due to the weather, he could see me.

“That tooth is a goner. It’s got to come out. I’ll do a bone graft,” he smiled, trying to bolster my flagging spirits. “Let’s rock and roll!” he chirped. The only good news I saw in any of that morning, was that he plays Adele, Taylor Swift, and Death Cab for Cutie over the sound system.]

It was déjà vu. So far, 2015 had gotten off to a rocky start in my world.

He came at me with That Needle, the one that reminded me of the one used on me for amniocentesis when I was with child. This was followed by three more injections, albeit with smaller needles. Ironically, Taylor Swift was singing, “Shake It Off” on the radio at that moment, and I tried to do just that. It failed to work.

The bright spot on the horizon was yesterday. I felt better. It was above zero and not snowing so that I could travel out-of-town and visit my daughter in between her trial advocacy practices and brief writings. We laughed as we ate warm dolmades and thinly sliced red beets at our favorite Middle Eastern bistro. We celebrated a belated Valentine’s Day with small gifts and chocolate cupcakes. Spending an afternoon with my daughter made me feel better.

Today, as I gaze out the window at the falling snow, I tell myself it could be worse. It looks like I am forsaking vino rosso and meat for Lent, I can feast on crab cakes. Mea culpa.

Ciao for now.






The Wisdom of Teeth


Fruit smoothies in a row
Fruit smoothies in a row (Photo credit: @bastique)

As the summer respite from college drew to a close, my daughter learned during the course of a routine dental checkup, that she would need to have her wisdom teeth extracted before the end of the year.  The window of opportunity for such oral surgery was limited to either before her early return to campus, or Christmas vacation [or to be politically correct “holiday break”, a perfectly meaningless term, lest we offend anyone’s fragile sensibilities].  The new norm is to remove all four wisdom teeth, instead of removing two on one side of the mouth, and then some months later removing the other two.


She opted for oral surgery prior to returning to sorority life and academic studies, or perhaps I should reverse the order [actually she’s quite scholarly].  As Anjelica observed, “Who wants to spend Christmas without eating any cookies?”  Point taken.  We set out early for the oral surgeon’s office the Monday before she had planned to return to campus.  By then, she had heard friends’ tales of woe regarding wisdom teeth extraction.  Yes, she would probably swell in the cheeks; yes, she might become nauseous from the pain medication; yes, she may resemble a chipmunk for several days.

Chobani Greek Yogurt
Chobani Greek Yogurt (Photo credit: Janellie)

What unnerved her most was the oral surgeon’s caveat of perhaps nerve and/or sinus damage could occur.  The IV was inserted and within an hour, Anjelica emerged from the surgery minus her four wisdom teeth and dazed from the anesthesia.  A nurse and I helped her into our car, and we sped away to Panera’s for a low-fat peach smoothie, the first of many for the next 10 days.  After 10 days of mega-pain medication, low-fat smoothies, Chobani Greek, sugar-free Jello, chocolate pudding, smooth applesauce, and the occasional vanilla milkshake, my child’s face morphed into its usual shape, she was at last headache and relatively pain-free, with the additional bonus of having unintentionally dropped 5-7 pounds on the primarily liquid diet.


She traveled to the netherworld and back again, but at least wisdom teeth do not reproduce in one’s mouth.  Now she may happily partake once again of that college food staple:  pizza, like the kind we at a ristorante in the Trastevere district in Rome.

Pizza al taglio at Trastevere in Rome
Pizza al taglio at Trastevere in Rome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Ciao for now.