I have a thing about teeth. I must have as many as possible. I recall my mother starting me at the dentist when I was maybe four years old. This would have been 1947ish, mind you. Somehow it was impressed on me as important, and I did it.
There have been tooth adventures along the way. Two bridges to span missing adult teeth. Another bridge because the root of a tooth simply resorbed. "I'll be damned," said the dentist who pulled it, describing the molar almost falling into his hands. I wanted an implant to replace it, but he talked me into a bridge, which I still regret. We had a couple more tooth disagreements, and I moved along to a new dentist.
A couple years ago the matching molar on the other side of my mouth pulled the same root disappearing act, and tumbled into a dentist's hand. It's some autoimmune problem. I got an implant. But, this is about what happened this morning, at the dentist.
An otherwise sound molar developed a cavity at the line above its crown. At my last tooth cleaning I bargained with the dentist, to no avail, to make a plan to go through the crown to fill the cavity. I made the appointment. I know the drill full well. Five or six hundred dollars to repair the tooth and the same over again to make a new crown.
I put in my ten o'clock appearance this morning. Fortunately, it turned out, I had no plans before two this afternoon, aside from going to work, which is easily blown off. My tooth was filled, then the dentist put a camera in my mouth and began taking pictures. I heard it beep five or six time, a new angle, another five or six times.
I turned to look at what the dentist was still doing, next to me. There were three teeth on the screen. Granted, the dentist was making the third tooth, actually, my new crown. I was so fascinated I didn't think to pull out my trusty phone until almost the end.
It was a CAD-CAM machine, and she was Computer Assisted Designing my new crown, from the reference photos she took earlier. When she was done she announced my new crown would be ready in fifteen minutes or less.
"What's going on? Is this like 3-D printing?" Actually, in a lab behind the wall of x-rays, a little block of porcelain was being milled into a crown. "Does it come down a conveyor belt or pop up?" Now she was laughing. Actually, the technician went over there and secured the little block of porcelain between two burrs, and started the process.
So, all I have a picture of is the little worm, counting down fifteen minutes of milling.
It still cost $1,140, after my senior discount. Well, double miles on my card and no second trip back. I'm still in awe.