lessons by teeth: Golden Dust

I figure that since I’m in the dental field, there’s something my profession can teach me. Here’s a little thought, serious or not, of what I’ve learned from teeth.

— — —

I have gold dust in my hair.

It’s all over my hands, skin, on my face. My clothing is dusted with it. It’s in my nose, probably my eyes, and most definitely in my lungs. I’m trying not to think about it.

gold FPD project

gold FPD project

Making gold crowns for teeth–specifically, a gold bridge in this instance–is a case study in patience and perseverance. It’s an amazingly long and drawn out process that demands the complete marriage of artistry and precision to reach a final product that is worth being proud of. Lately, my perseverance has been wearing thin: three late, oh-so-late nights in the lab in a row can do that to a person. I’m doing my best to be patient with this project, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult as I find myself more and more exhausted during following days.

A few nights ago, as the terminology goes, I cast the gold bridge as two separate pieces, let them cool on the desk for a few minutes, and eventually dropped them in cold water. In anticipation, I carefully broke the stone mold that encased my gold work. After using a sandblaster to take off the remaining grit of stubborn stone, I finally had a chance to see the artistry of my waxed model turned into gold.

gold FPD project

I was thrilled with the first piece; it fit the prepared teeth exactly and had a smooth surface for easy polishing. As for the other, something went wrong and it was covered on the outside with an unbelievable number of little bumps, so much so that it looked like a hereditary disorder of sorts.

gold FPD project

By this time, it was already past 10 in the evening. Truly, I didn’t want to deal with all those bumps. I wanted to go home, home, home. I wanted to relax, sleep. Nonetheless, I eventually turned off my needs and decided to stay in the lab and persevere: I wanted to get rid of all those ugly bumps that turned the original sleek and waxed surface into a disfigured monster of gold. I pulled out a hand piece drill, attached a cutting bur, and starting smoothing away the bumps bit by bit.

As I was cutting, the air in front of me started to become hazy–gold dust was everywhere. Even though I was wearing protective lenses and a mask, there were still plenty of surfaces on my person for the dust to come rest on. I became dusted with gold. It might have been an annoyance and even a potential problem for my health if I breathed in gold dust regularly. Instead, I considered it as just a hazard of the job, that it was something I wouldn’t have to do in the same quantity once I start working in a private practice.

gold FPD project

gold FPD project

In the end, my patience paid off and I actually finished the project on time. I trimmed off areas where there was too much gold, I carved in secondary anatomy with a bur, and spent a ridiculous amount of time polishing and polishing until the gold shone with a lovely, crisp and clear color. Even though I lost a lot of sleep over this project, I felt a sort of maternal pride for my work when all was said and done. Oddly, it was gratifying to have finally come to an end.

gold FPD project

gold FPD project

Lesson learned: Always pull through and persevere, have patience in all you put your heart and soul into. No matter the struggles, the relief and joy that comes at the end is worth aspiring for.


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