An oral fixation

I have a backward tooth. My dentist pointed out the anomalous bicuspid to his new assistant a couple weeks ago while they were making a cast for a crown to replace a cracked molar. I was in no position to inquire about it further at the time, and by the time they were finished with me for the day the matter had slipped my mind completely. As sensation returned and I began gingerly exploring that quadrant of my mouth with my tongue, I remembered the remarkable revelation and found myself more obsessed with the backward bicuspid than with the foreign object in my mouth, the temporary crown.

It’s true; the tooth is backwards. The cusp on the outward side of the tooth is significantly shorter than the cusp on the inward side, and the inward-facing cusp is longer than the inward cusps of its two neighbors. I don’t know whether the anesthesia made me extraordinarily susceptible to suggestion or whether the normal preoccupation of the human tongue with oral peculiarities has simply run amok, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Dozens of times each day I feel it with my tongue: Yep, it’s still backwards. I feel the shapes of the surrounding teeth and the corresponding teeth on the other side of my mouth: Yep, it’s still backwards.

I adore my dentist, but I’m a little miffed with him about this. The problem is, I don’t know if I feel more indignant that he never mentioned this to me before or about becoming the show-and-tell of the day. I do know what he’ll tell me, though, when I bring it to his attention at my next cleaning: he’ll say that he didn’t tell me precisely because he knew I’d become fixated on it, and that he only mentioned it when he thought I was too far gone with anesthesia to remember. And then he’ll offer to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge.


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