A Pain in the Tooth

That tooth

The one that mostly rotted out

Decades ago

Because the “best dentist

In Salt Lake City”

Didn’t quite get the

Bridge for the gap –

Collateral damage from

Chin meeting tree

On a late winter afternoon

At Park West –

Sealed up right.


The best dentist

Wanted to pull the remains.

After she arranged for insurance.

She got another opinion.

The tooth is still there

In her mouth

Now, again, calling out.

Again, a dentist advises

It must go.

“It’s cracked into the root,”

She pronounces

As she writes the referral.

But the periodontist

Doesn’t see the crack

On the X-ray,

The old-fashioned film

Bordered in white cardboard.

“What, that office isn’t digitized?”

Asks the periodontist

Who thinks maybe it can be saved

A second time.

But first

A significant chunk of change

Will trade hands

For a high-tech scan,

Not covered by insurance.

It will reveal whether the

“Cracked” judgment call

Holds up.

The periodontist reminds her,

“I am not an oncologist.”

Things aren’t so bad.

But damn,

It’s unsettling not knowing

Who’s capable and

Who’s just guessing

On a Friday

Before a weekend of dentist

Office closures.

Just in case

She leaves the office

With two prescriptions.

One for antibiotics

When there’s no apparent

Infection … yet.

It’s precautionary.

Just in case she decides to

Be part of the progress of

Superbug adaptation.

And one for tramadol.

A pain killer which

WebMD tells her

“has a risk for abuse and addiction

which can lead to overdose and death.”

“Fatal side effects with alcohol”

Reads drugs.com.

It’s also precautionary.

Just in case she wants

To get hooked and

Be another statistic

In the prescription drug crisis.

We’re covered …

Oh, but looking forward

It’s good to know that Medicare

Does not cover dental work.

The string and the door knob

It always worked.


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