Chipped Grin Blues

You know how when something happens to you that is painful or disturbing, but is the result of your habitual behavior, you exclaim, “I knew it, I knew it?!” Well, it just happened to me.

While playing racquetball this evening, I was hit in the face by another player’s racquet. It’s happened before, and after each time, I vowed to never again put myself in harms way while trying to position myself for a return shot. But in the heat of a game, instinct dictates otherwise. This evening, my greatest fear was realized–damage to a front tooth. In this case, a recently implanted, four-digit bridge. The implant procedure to replace a 35-year-old bridge that had begun to loosen had finally been completed in September of 2017, after about five months of wrestling with temporary solutions designed to make me presentable while two dental implants healed. It was a real travail but, finally, everything was done and the results were satisfying. I felt confident again.

The player who hit me in the mouth was someone I had determined many times to stay clear of while in play. He has a wide, exaggerated swing that threatens anyone who crowds him. I had often thought to myself that it was better to give up position to return his shot rather than risks being hit by his racquet. But in the heat of the game, it is hard to overcome the instinct to do all you can to position yourself for a return shot. On this night, I forgot to give ground and the inevitable happened.

At impact, I instinctively felt with my tongue to ensure my bridge had not been completely dislodged. Even as the warmth of blood flooded the front of my mouth, I was praying that my $10,000 bridge was intact. It was, but one of the front porcelain digits had been chipped. I swore in anger and disgust as I left the court and went to the men’s room, feeling the warm blood continually pouring from a gouge on the outside upper lip and in the same place on the inside of my mouth. Having established that my bridge was firmly in place, I then considered the cosmetic damage.

I decided–with the suggestions of my fellow players–that I didn’t need stitches for the gouge in my upper lip and ruled out going to the ER to get stitches. As for my dental work, I planned to see my dentist the next day to learn of my options for repair. In the meantime, I desperately went online when I got home to gain some reassurance that all could eventually be well, realizing that Internet consultation is always a crapshoot as to whether you are getting sound information or being hustled by dental practitioners looking to score a case.

Meanwhile, even as I write this, my upper lip continues to ooze blood–and pain. And the cracked tooth remains powerfully conspicuous, albeit with a small amount of charm.

Such is the price of playing racquetball.

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