The mandibular tori in my mouth had been bothering me for some time. For those unfamiliar, mandibular tori are bony growths on the floor of the mouth, under the tongue. They grow from each side in the mouth, and mine had gotten so bad that I could barely put my finger behind my bottom front teeth. An appointment was made at a local oral surgeon to explore options in dealing with this problem.
It was a sunny and cold December morning on the Thursday that walked into office of Dr. Coleman J. Spector DDS, and my mind was still a mess. My father had died less than a month ago and we had just had his memorial service a couple of days ago. My emotions were still raw, and I really was not thinking about my mouth or the tori at all.
My can of dip was safely in my pocket, as I never left home without it. I had put in “fatty” in my lower lip after breakfast that morning and had waited until the last minute to spit it out and get a quick brushing before I left for the appointment. Since I planned on getting a haircut after seeing the oral surgeon, I knew there would be time for a quick dip as I walked between the two appointments. As mentioned before, I usually had smokeless tobacco in my mouth almost every waking hour or every day.
If you had come up to me while I was sitting in the waiting room that day and told me that the dip I had earlier that morning was going to be my last dip ever, I am sure I would have laughed hysterically. There was no doubt on my morning plans. I was going to what the oral surgeon had to say about my tori, have a dip in between appointments, get my hair cut, and then put more dip back in my mouth. The plans sounded very normal for this hopeless smokeless tobacco addict. I was just too afraid to quit this disgusting destructive habit.
From a door that lead to the inner office a groggy teenage boy was turned over to the custody of his father who was the only other person sitting in the waiting room that day. I figured the boy had just had his wisdom teeth removed, and I also figured I should be seeing the doctor very soon. A short while later I was led back to an examination room and seated in large reclining exam chair that had my head and toro at a 45-degree angle. Being in any kind of dentist’s office always puts me on edge, as I never know if they are going to confront me on the obvious damage to my mouth that the use of smokeless tobacco had caused.
When Dr. Spector entered the room, we exchanged pleasantries and discussed the ins and outs of mandibular tori. It was clear to the doctor that I had done my research and was an educated person in general. When it was time for the actual exam, he grabbed a tubular instrument that was attached to a cord, which I soon discovered was a very powerful light. As he began his exam, I was praying that he would just focus on the tori and not snoop around too much in my mouth. Dr. Spector had other ideas and began to conduct a thorough examination of my entire mouth. In fact, he never even looked at the tori during that first pass through my mouth with his spotlight. Instead, he made several grunts of disgust before temporarily pausing the exam to grab a hand mirror for me to look at the destruction and pre-cancerous lesions that my smokeless tobacco use had caused.
Truth be told, I really didn’t want to see what he was about to show me, but he was not taking no for an answer. I’ll tell you what I saw next time.