I had the last of my lower teeth yanked out a few weeks ago.
Bad teeth tend to run in my family. Crooked, discolored, and very, very prone to cavities, regardless of how often you brushed. (There was a series of old toothpaste commercials who featured various kids coming home from a dental appointment and proudly announcing "Look, Mom, no cavities!" Those commercials probably made my parents want to throw a brick at the tv; it was a great! day at the dentist's when one of us boys would only have one or two cavities to be treated.)
So, about five years ago I realized that dental expenses to try and keep my teeth together were running between $150 and $200 a month. Our dentist, Dr. Lundgren, had been jigsawing repeated fillings around one another for about twenty years to try and keep enough teeth together to function. As I got older, this began to garner diminishing returns, and I decided to get an upper denture. (The upper teeth were the ones falling apart fastest and most expensively; the lower ones were still pretty functional.)
I was pretty satisfied with the upper plate. Yep, took some getting used to, to have a big chunk of plastic & ceramic in my mouth for hours every day. Yep, didn't have the same chewing pressure available for eating. But it was functional enough.
Time passes. More of the lower teeth lose fillings or break apart. Some get extracted. Eventually, I'm down to the last half-dozen front teeth and one molar.
A few months ago, that last lower molar starts to *twinge* whenever I put pressure on it, and I realize it's time to start thinking about a lower denture.
(It would have been nice if it had occurred in some other year than one in which someone apparently signed me up for the Unexpected Expense of the Month Club. I don't like the selections, and the reply cards don't have a "DON'T SEND" option.)
So, hey, I see the prosthodontist who'll make the new denture, and the oral surgeon who'll do the extractions, arrange a couple days off work (getting a bunch of teeth extracted at one time lays you pretty low for a couple of days), and get it all done.
Gosh, a normal-looking mouth, after all these years. Who'da thunk?
Still getting used to the new denture. Still a little tender where the real teeth used to be. Still getting used to eating (mostly softer foods yet) with the denture, and talking around it. (I've always tended towards speaking High Mumble -- Hilde's gotten pretty good at translating over the years -- but the current mode might be described as "Mumble-&-Mush", which sounds like a food item you might find served in a British pub.)
Having both plates in tends to change the shape of my face somewhat, pushing the lower half outwards. I've noticed that with lips closed, I now look rather stern, like some Puritan elder out of uniform. Hilde's told me that when I have my mouth open slightly, it's mostly the lower denture that's visible, and it looks a lot like a snarl. And when I raise my upper lip to compensate for that, it makes my cheekbones pop and my eyes widen, which altogether looks... umm, well... demented.
Hmmm. Sullen, irritated, and crazed. Yeh, that's pretty much me in a nutshell.