Super Bowl Sunday. 13 years old. The men all wanted the kids out of the house so they could yell and scream at the TV with impunity, so my aunt took a giant group of us kids to Roller-Rama. Remember sneaker roller-skates? Mine were blue and white with white pom-poms on the toes… *wistful sigh*
Then I crashed. Blue wheels clicked up with those of another girl, and a spectacular belly-flop onto the polished oak floor yielded a gaping chasm where moments before a pearly white front tooth had been. A permanent tooth. A front, permanent tooth. Gone. I remember skating over to where my aunt was playing PacMan, holding my tooth in the palm of my hand, and hearing PacMan die as she stared at my gaping, bloody mouth. The Soundtrack of My Life.
For a few years, I had temporary caps while my mouth finished growing, and when I was 17, the dentist finally put a ‘permanent’ crown on. It was a decent crown. It mostly matched. For twenty-*mumble mumble* years, that crown held. Usually most folks didn’t notice it wasn’t the same as my other teeth- but I was always self-conscious. In photos it was particularly noticeable- and I would smile with my lips together.
Via the miracle of modern dentistry coupled with the miracles of the internets, air travel and scheduling those miracles can foster, I was in Salt Lake City for business, and was able to squeeze in an appointment with the Best Dentist in the Universe. In case you’re wondering, it’s this guy:
He and his lovely wife— a long-time and dear friend of mine— made room in their schedules to accommodate me during the short window during which I was in-town. I would seriously fly my whole family to Utah for this dentist, so if you need someone, just sayin’… I’ll totally hook you up.
So anyway, turns out there’ve been a ton of advances in modern crown-making since twenty-mumble-mumble years ago when I had this last crown made- and it was the coolest process I’ve ever seen.
He had to remove the old crown (and no freaking way are there any pictures of me with my gaping clown-mouth). Since my tooth underneath is still living and is in pretty good shape, he carefully protected it, and didn’t hurt me even the tiniest bit. That’s a major dental win, by the way: zero pain. Mild, calming chair-side demeanor. All wins. My mouth was sprayed with something called ‘optical powder’ and he took 3D images of my teeth. No gummy latex tooth-mold trays- just perfectly rendered models on a computer screen. From that 3D model, he actually BUILT a tooth for me that custom fit to my mouth. It was insanely cool to watch.
The image was then sent to a milling machine, right there in the office, where a piece of porcelain was then 3D ‘printed’ (I honestly don’t know what to call it- I’m sure there are technical terms, but I was just agog at how cool it was) into a tooth custom fitted and milled for my exact mouth. Et voila:
A few minutes in a kiln to set the custom enamel (that matches my mouth exactly) and it was fitted, inserted, sealed and done. Simply the most perfect match you could even imagine- coupled with the miracle of it being utterly, completely pain-free. And now I have a perfect front tooth! I know it shouldn’t matter so much, but having a nice smile again after so many years of being self-conscious is a big confidence boost. It’s lovely, looks natural, reflects light instead of swallowing it like a black hole, and I feel pretty again. I love modern dentistry- it really is a marker of a truly civilized society.
Anyway, if you’re in the Utah Valley and want the Best Dentist in the Universe, he takes all kinds of insurance, is great with kids and families, is kind, his wife is seriously awesome, and I can totally hook you up.