February 5, 2003
A new experience of pressure and scent — the whirl of the drill and my own breathing produce a fetid image. A drier augments the olfactory sense with a blast of air, suggesting rubbered hands and powder. The drill penetrates the tooth violently, chipping away the raw, diseased material to make way for a patch — an upgrade, if you will. The yellowed enamel yields easily to a diamond drill taking away not only the rotting portion, but enlarging the cavity for a the white puddy that dries quicker than superglue and just as strong. Dried puddy now inseparable from my tooth.
My mouth and tongue feels numb, like bits of dry cloth in my mouth that upset the normal fluidity of my jaw. The process is not unpleasant — perhaps a bit closterphobic as my enlarged tounge threatens to fall back into my mouth in an act of perfidious suffocation — but forceful, wearing out my jaw muscles under the probing of steel instruments and unfamiliar, rubber-coated fingers. The image of a gigantic yellowed tooth, opened by technology, stares at me during the length of the procedure from a T.V. overhead. It’s supposedly my tooth on the monitor, suspended above me — a testament to the decay of the flesh and bone evinced by the cathod rays. Decay writ large through the lens of tech.
I wonder about my new tooth, my upgrade. Will I be conscious of it after a while, or will I naturalize its benign presence, become numb to the idea, like my cheek and lip is presently? Perhaps the first of many future upgrades, yet upgrades that do not retain a sense of the medieval. Perhaps dentistry will become a part of the mdicine of nanotech? Having little robots in my mouth taking care of bacteria before they can even begin their slow feast of my teeth and bone. A small price to pay? What will Dr. Dan think?