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Dentists have played an important part of my life. Here's my story:
Since high school, I have had excellent dental care. The extensive restorative dentistry in my mouth was required because the dental care I had before that was poor. My dental condition has nothing to do with neglect. I went to the dentist and brushed my teeth every night as every good boy should. Apparently, dentistry improved in the sixties. It has continued to improve to this day. My four nephews, who don’t look after their teeth particularly well, have only one cavity between them. They have had excellent dental care.
My own dental care followed this pattern: a cavity would be diagnosed. A hole would be drilled in the tooth and an amalgam filling would be installed. A few years later more decay would be found around the filling. The old filling would be removed and the hole would be made larger to remove the new decay. A new filling would be installed. This would be repeated over the years until nothing was left of the tooth. Then, the remnants of the tooth would be extracted after the last filling fell out. A gap would be left.
That is why a molar is missing on each side of my lower jaw. They were removed by a dentist in Saskatoon when I was in Grade 11. As my wisdom teeth erupted, they pushed the molars forward and destroyed the occlusion of my teeth. This misalignment was compounded as the upper teeth dropped. (Years later that was corrected by Dr. Lloyd Cullham who had to grind off considerable enamel with an "equilibration". Dr. Natrass was shocked when he saw this a few years later, but I have been happy with the improvement in my bite for many decades.)
After high school, in the late sixties, I was in Vancouver when one of those large fillings fell out. It was a long weekend which I managed to survive by dissolving 292s on the crater in my tooth. I went to see a dentist when one was open. I wanted the dentist to extract the tooth and end my pain. I would have been happy then to have had all of my teeth extracted. My teeth were not my friends.
“We don’t do that anymore,” the dentist told me. He went on to explain a new philosophy in dentistry. “We try never to extract a tooth.” He told me I needed a root canal to save the tooth. He explained what that was. He said he would do the procedure for free because I had no money. He went on to say that he would put a temporary dressing in the tooth and that I would need to go to a dentist in Regina to have the work finished when I got home. He said I would need to have a bridge on both sides to fill in the gap that was left by the molar that had been extracted there.
My life was turned around by that dentist. I don’t even know his name. I have blessed him daily for forty years when I floss my teeth.
After returning to Regina, I got a job with a geologist and went to work up north. A dentist in Flin Flon finished the root canal and had a gold bridge for my lower left quadrant made at a lab in Winnipeg. When he dropped it in, he was delighted. He exclaimed, “I’m a genius.” It was perfect.
Back in Regina, Dr. Jack Kanee told me more about crowns, gold inlays and bridges. My lifetime goal was to have all my teeth capped and to have beautiful teeth for the rest of my life. Dr. Kanee made the gold bridge in the lower right quadrant after he checked the root canal there. I was very proud of my gold teeth!
Then I went to Japan. It was May 1970.
When I returned from Japan, Dr. Cullham did an occlusal adjustment and extracted a baby tooth and the adult tooth that had not come down. I lost the tooth beside them as well — a two-tooth gap was left. This created a problem that I am dealing with again now.
In 1971, Dr. Kanee made a porcelain bridge to span the two-tooth gap. That bridge now needs some attention — 38 years later. Dr. Kanee was my dentist, and my friend, until he retired. Dr. Kanee looked after my fillings, replacing the very old ones, and polishing the others. He put some Rembrandt veneers on some of my teeth. Some of them are still there. Veneers were a new thing new then. The veneer on the left front tooth would never stay on.
Dr. Kanee replaced it umpteen times before he retired. When I started seeing Dr. Bolen, the first thing he fixed was that veneer. He replaced it umpteen times over the years.
When Dr. Bolen retired, Dr. Allison Mang replaced that veneer umpteen times too. Then, she made the beautiful crown that is there now. It will last the rest of my life, at least another sixty years. Allison is my favorite, not only because she is young and pretty. Allison has a light touch. She doesn't hurt me even when injecting freezing. Allison can make teeth with the new composite dental resins that she cures with light.
Since that anonymous dentist in Vancouver turned my life around in 1968, dentists have played an important part in my life. When I lived in Vancouver, I rented a suite of rooms in the home of Dr. Annalies Penz, in British Properties. She was a retired dentist!
Dr. Bolen and Dr. Kinzel are my friends from Kiwanis. Olive White and Dr. Greg White are my friends from St. Matthew’s. Their son is Allison Mang’s husband's partner in a chiropractic practice. Olive White worked for Dr. Kanee and his brothers-in-law, Paul and Ben Bukhalter.
Dentists are supposed to be unhappy people who are prone to suicide, we are told by the folklore. I don't know who started that stupid idea. Dentists are my friends. They are happy, well-adjusted people. I have been very happy with every dentist since 1968 when dentistry changed for me. Dentists have helped me immeasurably. I expect to live a long time. I expect to have my teeth in my head where they belong when I die years from now. Some medical doctors I have known should have taken lessons from you.
Thank you, my friends!