Today was a day of rejoicing as my dentist replaced the scruffy temporary bridge in my mouth with one that was surely designed and crafted by an origami artisan in Japan. This slick and shiny permanent bridge is such a relief, since my teeth felt like they were wearing socks for three weeks.

Maybe my memory fails me but I remember my dentist having a nearby tray that held all of his assault instruments. Not so today. All of the essential stainless steel weapons were placed onto my paper bib, which was lying on my chest. Whenever he needed a crochet hook or a sparkling wand, he simply lifted one of my chins and pulled the desired tool into his hand and poised it in my mouth. It reminded me of Lanny’s whimsical quip: “Cindy, you have more chins than a Chinese phone book.” That “yoosta” be funny.

Pulling out the temporary bridge was no easy task. Dr. Jeremiah had to plant his knee on the arm of the chair and pull with all his might to get the bridge to release. My eyeliner slipped down to my shoulder. So that I would appreciate my new look, the dentist handed me a mirror for me to see the atrocity we were soon to conceal. The mirror was tilted so that all I saw was a striped shirt (I was wearing a floral blouse), and I found it unsettling. Not Valium unsettling, but unsettling, nonetheless. What a relief to discover I had the mirror focused on Dr. Jeremiah’s striped golf shirt (designer, I’m sure) instead of me!

All I had to do was swish and kiss the straw from time to time. No big deal. For my dentist, it was probably something between installing a ceiling fan and separating conjoined twins. When a temporary bridge is replaced with a permanent one, there is a certain amount of trial and error in getting “the bite” just right. That involves carbon paper. You know the drill (literally!). I had to tap-tap-tap my teeth on the blue paper so the dentist could see where he needed to chisel the enamel. He did this over and over again. Finally, I barked, “For the love of the Queen of England, would you please just clean the blue off my face and let me go?!”

At that moment, one of my stellar teeth that was poised for permanency toppled off its perch and fell into my mouth. My dentist, having been a football quarterback with quick reflexes, quickly swooped in to catch the wayward tooth. He seemed unfazed. I had to ask: “What if I had swallowed it?” His answer was sobering.

“We wait.”

Cindy Baker Burnett is a resident of Bonham. Email her at