capping it off

The process by which a dentist fabricates a gold crown is actually quite a fascinating one. Whether he sends the case off to a lab to be crafted, or, conceivably for the last time, performs all the laboratory duties himself, there is a lot of  (for lack of a better term) really cool sounding stuff happening from start to finish. It consists of reversibly blocking conductance of sodium channels in human neurons, removing the hardest substance in the body, initiating an addition reaction during which a cross-linked polymer is formed,  hand-waxing a tooth sculpture, melting gold into a liquid with a blowtorch, and fine-tuning the occlusion to appease sensory fibers in the teeth and the musculature of the jaws. At some points in there, high-frequency radio waves (or, cooler still, laser beams) may be used to resect gingival tissues. And the end result? A beautiful, functional restoration that is almost guaranteed to increase in value given the current economic climate. Keep that in mind the next time you’re in a dentist’s chair.

7 thoughts on “capping it off

  1. The most I would ever give a man for something in his mouth (be it gold or kernels of corn) is a sock in the kisser.

  2. Indeed! Local anesthetic, e.g. lidocaine, works in this manner. Dental procedures often involve blocking this conductance on the nerve trunk proximal to the site that needs numbing, before individual nerve branches have split off to separate teeth. This prevents action potentials from propagating and the patient loses sensation (at least sharp, painful sensation) in the area innervated by that nerve.

  3. I had to change my gravatar from the pink phallic thing to something a little more professonal… Sorry everyone.

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