For Stan Fletcher - Be Your Own Dentist
(Note: This was written in response to a challenge issued by Stan Fletcher. DO NOT use these home remedies!)
If you don’t have dental insurance, a visit to the dentist can be extremely painful to your pocketbook. Unfortunately, dental problems can cause excruciating physical pain, too. In fact, before dental care was available, there were actually a few of our knuckle-dragging ancestors who killed themselves due to abscessed teeth, according to anthropologists. I totally believe this. I had an abscessed jaw tooth several years ago that caused me so much pain I tried to knock myself unconscious by banging my head on the wall. I didn’t succeed, but I did break the wood paneling in the hallway. Afterwards, I found a pair of hubby’s pliers and tried to pull the tooth myself. When it started popping and cracking, my husband became nauseous and took his tool away from me.
All this occurred at midnight on a Saturday. Hubby finally got hold of the dentist and told him if he didn’t do something immediately, I was either going to kill him or kill myself. The dentist agreed to meet us at his office, which was 45 miles away. After the dentist saw my tooth, he informed that he could pull it, but because there was so much infection, he couldn’t use any Novocain. I told him I didn’t care – it couldn’t possibly be any more painful than what I was already experiencing. He forced the offending molar out, gave me some antibiotics, and sent me on my merry way.
After I had fully recovered from the ordeal, I began thinking, “Heck. I coulda pulled that tooth out myself if my significant other weren’t such a wimp. It’s not like Dr. Dent used any anesthesia, anyway.”
From that point on, I began doing all my own dental care. If you want to save a bundle of money and not spend time waiting in a dentist’s office, below are some tips I’ve learned from my own experiences.
I must forewarn you that this is a somewhat uncomfortable procedure, so you’ll need some sort of painkiller first. Choose your poison, then drink it, smoke it, swallow it, or snort it. The trick is to use enough to knock the edge off the pain yet still retain your faculties.
Once you’ve achieved an I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude and your pliers have soaked for 10 minutes in bleach, you’re ready. Grasp the tooth firmly with the pliers and work the tooth back and forth, breaking it away from the gum. Once the tooth is loose enough, you’ll be able to lift it from the socket.
If it’s a molar with long claw-like roots, you might have to break the tooth into separate pieces in order to remove it. This can be achieved with a small chisel and a large hammer. Simply hold the chisel on the top of the tooth with your left hand, and strike it repeatedly with the hammer, which is held in your right hand. As an instructional video, you can watch the tooth-striking scene from Castaway. Yes, I know Tom Hanks used an ice-skate blade, but I’ve found that a chisel is more precise. Since the tooth will now be in numerous pieces, you might have to dig them out with some tweezers.
Cavities should be filled as soon as they’re obvious. One of the first signs of a cavity is that you have to dig food out of it after a meal. It’s imperative to take care of a cavity before it reaches the dentin and causes a painful abscess (see above).
Before starting, clean the hole out well. Then use a fast-cure epoxy glue to fill the cavity. As the epoxy hardens, you’ll need to leave your mouth open until the compound has completely cured.
Don’t let a minor mishap like a broken tooth send you running to a dentist. You can take care of this yourself at home, as long as you retained the broken piece.
First, make sure the tooth and the broken piece are both completely dry. This is best achieved with a blow dryer turned to its hottest setting. Next, place two drops of super glue on the main part of the tooth and quickly place the broken piece back in its original position. If you used too much glue, there will be a rough place on the tooth. Simply sand this down using 120-grit sandpaper.
If you have just a nub of a tooth left and think you need a cap, you can save a ton of cash by taking care of it yourself. For this procedure, you’ll need a substance called “Sculpty,” available at most craft stores. Sculpty is a pliable clay that hardens once it’s been cured.
Take a small amount of the clay and mold it into a tooth shape with your fingers. While it’s still soft, place it on your tooth so that the mold will be a perfect fit. Next, place a small amount of super glue onto the Sculpty tooth and set it in place.
Sculpty requires significant heat to cure and harden. Here, you have two options. You can either place your head, with mouth open, in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, or you can use a blow dryer. If you opt for the blow-dryer method, you’ll need to hold the dryer nozzle directly on the cap for at least two hours.
Sculpty is gray, so unless you’re okay with a gray tooth, you’ll need to paint the molded cap once it’s completely dry. To do so, apply several thin layers of acrylic paint with a small brush. I always use titanium white. Between each layer of paint, use the blow dryer again for drying.
Home dental care isn’t just for emergencies. You can also use it for cosmetic purposes. If your teeth aren’t as dazzling as you’d like them to be, a simple remedy is to use white-out or another correction fluid. The kind that comes with a small brush in the cap works best.
Your teeth have to be completely dry before applying the fluid. Using 120-grit sandpaper, “rough up” the surface of your teeth. This will help the fluid adhere to your teeth better.
Next, apply a thin layer of white-out and allow it to dry completely. You’ll need to drag out the trusty blow dryer again for this. Once the first layer is dry, use 1200-grit sandpaper to sand the new finish. Paint on another layer of white-out, let it dry, and then sand it down. Repeat this process until the desired shade is achieved.
Once you have the look you want, apply a protective coating. I’ve found that the best thing to use is polyurethane. If you want shiny teeth, use a high-gloss polyurethane, and for a more natural look, use a polyurethane with a matte or semi-gloss finish.