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Like, whoa

I've always thought my dentist was an interesting guy. My prior dentist did good work, but he always spoke in a very hushed voice and made everything sound like it was of earthshattering importance, which I didn't like. When my insurance grew more limited and dropped him, it was a good excuse to switch. There are four dentists in my tiny little town, so I picked one of the others. I'd been to a game show taping with him (long story, much of the town went on a charter plane to NYC and we all won big TVs...I think the show only lasted half a season though) and he seemed like a really regular guy there. Not a soft melodramatic talker.

Unfortunately, the prior dentist did so much work on me that the new dentist was never needed for anything other than after-cleaning exams. Still, he struck me as someone who was really smart and quirky -- he'll swear, for instance...the last guy would never have used swears -- and interesting.

Today I got my first big procedure from him. He carved off a 13-year-old crown and replaced it with a crown he created on the spot with 3D-CAD software while I watched, then milled and bonded into my mouth. Interesting? Holy shit. This guy was fascinating.

First wow -- he says they can grow teeth from stem cells. He thinks within 20 years if our teeth crap out, they'll just grow new ones and implant them. Right now they can't figure out how to control which type of tooth grows, so they may want a molar and get a bicuspid. And it's slow, they need to accelerate it before it's practical to use commercially.

Second wow -- generation of human tooth enamel is being done by the military to line jet components, because when aircraft crashes and burns, the only thing left intact is teeth.

Third wow -- experiments are being done with computer printers loaded with cells instead of ink to "print" organs.

WTF?? I need to take this guy out to coffee and pick his brain if I ever write another SF story. Zero Hour could have been way cool with some tidbit like this in it. I'm guessing he told me these things because I looked so interested with his CAD program. It was totally space age that he scanned my mouth, plunked a tooth in from a library of teeth, altered it to fit in my mouth, put a little ceramic block in the machine and 15 minutes later my new tooth came out!



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 13th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Both the dentists in the practice I go to are absolutely brilliant men. I've had similar fascinating discussions with them about several scientific topics beyond dentistry. Why are all the doctors I encounter such dumbasses by comparison, I wonder?
May. 13th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
I had a good doctor once. She was younger than me, but I at least always thought she remembered who I was from appointment to appointment. She got pregnant, had her maternity leave, then switched to another county :(

I wonder if dentists are usually also business owners, so they have to have bigger skill sets in order to thrive? I am currently shopping health insurance plans to see if it makes sense to drop my day-job plan and get my own. Which is of course step one of quitting day job.

I think the first time I talked at length to my dentist he said something that really stuck with me. We were talking about computer problems, and he said that if he couldn't figure the problem out relatively quickly, he'd hire someone to come in and handle it. Why? Because his time was best spent learning more about dentistry. Not trying to do everything. That really stuck with me! I think that's when I decided to hire out my lawn mowing!

Love your icon! Your kitty is winking! Puffy had his summer haircut last week and he's all shivery now.
May. 13th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
I'm going through a dental nightmare myself. I wish I had a dentist like you do! Turns out I'm biting down too hard on my own teeth at night while I sleep and that's why there's so many cracked teeth happening all of a sudden. Sure wish that stem cell thing was happening right now. I think in 20 years, I'll probably be beyond hope!

And it's amazing where you can find interesting tidbits for storylines, isn't it? From your dentist, no less!
May. 13th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, you have cracked teeth! That is such a drag. I hope you find a solution that's not too hideous :-(

My prior whispery dentist had a questionnaire I filled out that had "jaw pain" as one of the check boxes. Sometimes I have jaw pain, I mean, who doesn't? He got all whispery and serious like I needed a nighttime appliance. Until my insurance said no, and then the issue was quietly dropped.

Anyway, I hope YOU can find an solution to stop the badness. But mine was my old dentist seeing dollar signs.

(I must say, my big problem with whispery-guy manifested in his hygenist who was rough and really hurt me, and I complained, and was then told no, it was me -- my gums were the problem and not the hygenist, and I have this horrible condition and I'll lose all my teeth if I don't do this deep-scaling. My new dentist? No problem! I don't even feel the cleanings!)
May. 13th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
You're awfully lucky to have found a good dentist. I like mine fine...she's from India and seems to be very, very competent and nice as she can be. She's actually fitting me for a night guard next week...something I have to wear at night while I'm sleeping. We'll see...
May. 13th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
Good luck with that night guard! Maybe something simple like that can alleviate a lot of pain.

I sometimes think the human body is rigged to crap out at 50 years or so...I hope technology catches up with our bodies living as long as they do before I start hurting too badly. (ack, there goes my TV satellite cos it's storming.)
May. 13th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with you. When I turned 50, it seemed like things started to fall apart! Now that I'm 56, it's getting darned tough!
May. 15th, 2009 10:34 am (UTC)
Don't you just absolutely hate it? I get especially frustrated when someone tells me that 50 is now the new 40 and life begins at 40. As you said, I just have the feeling that after 50 it's all just starting to fall apart. No, I wouldn't want to be 16 again, but 30-ish would be really nice.
May. 15th, 2009 10:52 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, 30 would be awfully nice! And who'd want to be 16 again? It's one of life's most awkward ages...thank god that's over. But 30-ish sounded really nice while I was sitting in that dentist's office!
May. 13th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
Oh I saw a show about that printing thing. I can't remember, maybe it was Discovery? It was a whole series about the future of things that are potentials now, but practically guaranteed. As in, already being done, like the tooth thing, just needing the tweaks, like guaranteeing a molar and whatnot.

It was cool as it had various 'characters' showing how the future would impact for example, children, the middle aged, and 'old timers' from way back when who remembered the old days/ways and fought 'the system'.

I totally thought of that show when I first started reading Zero Hour as it seemed like a near perfect setting. Save for the old guy ^_~

Aha: It was 2057 [link to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2057_(TV_series)
May. 13th, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
Fun! I'm totally gonna try and catch that! (It looks like there were only three episodes produced so far.) And of course now I'm going to watch discovery channel all night since I tuned in to try and find 2057.
May. 13th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
I know, Discovery is so totally addictive! *already watching*
May. 13th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, I found the discs for 2057 on Netflix. First in queue!
(Deleted comment)
May. 13th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
Because I'm half-time at the day job, I currently pay over half the HMO cost, which turns out to be about a third of my paycheck. I read an illuminating article from Consumer Reports (last month or the previous month) that illuminated what you want covered in case of large illness -- prescriptions and office visits, once a certain deductible is met -- so that if you have a namby-pamby illness, you pay for most of it yourself, but if you get something devastating, like cancer, after 5 grand the insurance kicks in.

Anyway, I looked at that tonight and it looks like I could get this type of individual coverage for WHAT I'M ALREADY PAYING OUT OF POCKET through my day job. Dude! That's a huge revelation. If it's true, it's potential freedom from my day job.

Not to incur the wrath of people who are more politically informed than I am, but it seems really sick to me how many people in the US defer from doing what they really want to do all because we don't have affordable health care here.
May. 14th, 2009 04:33 am (UTC)
It sounds as though your new dentist is a really interesting guy, and it was cool that he could just make you a new crown there and then!
I grind my teeth in my sleep (and have done since I was a teenager) so when I was at university I was given a dental splint (a) to protect my teeth, and (b) to realign my jaw to stop it 'popping' when I yawned (bit like your knee popping in and out of joint.) I was supposed to where it all the time except for eating, but after about a year I moved onto using it at night, and now I only use it if my jaw/ teeth ache (indicating that I've been grinding like a squirrel in my sleep!)
It cost me about £70 I think - and this was in 1993, so God knows what the equivalent would be today. I couldn't afford the whole splint - I jsut got one that covers my lower jaw - a whole one would have set me back £250!


May. 14th, 2009 07:52 am (UTC)
He said there were only about 30 of those new crown machines in the state when he got it a few years ago. I'm pleased I randomly picked him! Or not so random. Like I said, I thought he put off a really normal vibe.

I'm glad you had such a decent experience with that splint! I think there is even an over-the-counter version (It's probably moldable or something) for people who don't have the $250...or in American dollars that's probably $400 or so.
May. 14th, 2009 05:02 am (UTC)
Like you said...WOW! I have long, arduous years' experience with dentists. This is fascinating! That idea of creating a bespoke crown on the spot is astonishing.
May. 14th, 2009 07:55 am (UTC)
Yes, on the spot, and stronger/better than traditionally made crowns. That was pretty stunning when he explained (in great detail, haha!) why the new technique was so much stronger and more accurate, because it was milled instead of molded.

Right now, the morning after, I'm feeling really lousy. Getting the old crown cut out of my head was no fun. Now my head/neck/shoulder/jaw are all killing me. I think I'll use a sick day, I have a few months worth banked.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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