‘ My two front teeth’

Watching one’s slow physical deterioration is a particularly unwelcome attribution of getting older. At first perhaps it’s not so obvious. The pace of walking becomes a little slower, but then warily watching uneven pavements is necessary and eventually a walking stick an essential precaution. Digestion once upon a time was taken for granted and over eating – and drinking – an occasional indulgence without much thought, but now as an old person, care in one’s diet becomes a necessary precaution. Once – our continual theme this – all sorts of names and memories could come to mind in a flash, but now it is obvious to me and those around me that I fumble for them, trying to excavate them from the dim recesses of my mind. Then there’s that face I look at in the mirror in the mornings, slowly growing flabby and florid as the years pass by, now almost unrecognisable as the person that once stared back at me.

Teeth have been my problem over the last ten years. I didn’t recognise what was happening for some time, but gradually began to realise that my front teeth were eroding, difficult for mealtimes and embarrassing when talking with people.

There’s that novelty song of the 1940’s ‘All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth’ , made famous in a popular recording by Spike Jones and his City Slickers; only in my case it wasn’t two teeth but four that were disappearing.

‘ I think you must grind your teeth at night’ said my excellent dentist’, and prescribed a guard to prevent that from happening, but still the erosion continued. At last when there wasn’t much left that could be recognised as teeth, she suggested that I be seen by the Bristol University Hospital’s Division of Restorative Dentistry. That was in March of this year. I have just had my eleventh appointment, with one to go.

I have been very well looked after by J.B. and A., his dental nurse, who have almost become my friends. It was explained to me at the beginning that although this was a teaching hospital, students wouldn’t be around in my case but – it wasn’t put as crudely as this – I would still be of use to them. I was photographed then and since – my mouth all over the place – and have been glad to think that I may be of use to others. Early on J. told me I was his biggest challenge – there was little to work on and the general alignment of my teeth was bad. He has done a splendid job.

One bit of me rehabilitated and I am grateful.Christmas has come early this year!