Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why is Ricky Not Smiling?

No, toothy smile??

After never having to have any serious dental work performed because of her lifetime of excellent home care, Ricky needed a dental implant.  Maybe from a face plant on the ski hill years ago, maybe too much rough play with a special Labrador Retriever – the tooth could not be saved.  A few weeks before our long ride home, she got the treatment and was fitted with a temporary tooth that gave her a magnificent smile. Weeks later, on a stunning ridge at the northern edge of the Gobi in Mongolia, the temp tooth was more comfortable in a Mongolian vegetable dumpling rather than her jaw.  No pain, no risk
The Scene of the Crime
of infection, but Ricky wasn’t comfortable looking like a Russian hockey player.  We created cover stories (‘She lost it in a bar fight in Beijing” seemed to have the most traction), tried to call on a satellite phone to her dentist for advice, and the magnificent smiling stopped.  Well, at least slowed and mutated into a wide grin with lips firmly together.  Five days later, Ricky was in a chair with a Mongolian dentist who was very taken with the implant.  It is not certain how many implants have been enjoyed by the fine residents of the Mongolia capital – yet, she fitted Ricky’s tooth with surgical SuperGlue (really, the same as regular SuperGlue). $30.   Ricky asked her for some spare surgical glue, you know, just in case. A Premonition  “No, No, No!” the dentist said.  Ricky could smile again!  A week later, now in this beautiful place – and on
The Sun Rises for the last time on a full smile
our 17th wedding anniversary no less – all the work of that fine dentist in Ulan Bator was lost when the tooth again escaped into some hamachi sashimi. Back came the sheepish grin, and a speaking style best described as one sees when one is giving painful testimony before a congressional watchdog committee.  We pressed on to St. Petersburg where, five days later, we found an international dental clinic in the shadow of the Savior of the Spilled Blood Cathedral.  International, except that they only spoke Russian.  We searched for regular SuperGlue all over this city of 5 million but only found small bottles with cyrillic writing and a 
No, Ricky!  Don't make me do it!
poison tag. “No, No, No!” I said.  Ricky researched Russian for “tooth” (zoob), “glue” and “implant” – but found a less cooperative dentist here. “No gluing, but I’ll make you a full crown for a few hundred US” was the gist of what Ricky could understand.  The grimace and pained speech pattern continued, now coupled with a look of someone who just suffered a small TIA.  But the beauty of St. Petersburg, sailing the Baltic Sea, a day in Helsinki, the gorgeous archipelagos of Stockholm, and an upgraded flight to the US, occasionally brought the magnificent smile back from time to time. Without the temp tooth, but beautiful to me.  The grimace in all its glory returned upon landing in Newark – but for all the right reasons. I mean, Newark! Two days after our return, so did the tooth in its rightful position.
Oh, this is far from a Russian  Hockey player

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