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Teeth, Sinuses, Beowulf, and what I don’t know

October 19, 2011

Today my friend who has Multiple Sclerosis told me that the MS started in her teeth. Her teeth hurt. We both think this is interesting.

Today, her dentist showed her a picture of what goes on inside our head. Not as in psychology, which is usually all I am interested in. But anatomically speaking. She told me some interesting news, that our sinuses reach all the way down to the top of our teeth. I did not know this. I admit I wasn’t too sure what a sinus was. Except a hole. Maybe two holes. Before I became an expert (just now), I pictured them like violin F holes, one on either side of the nose. I also thought they emptied into our throats. Hence, that gross word, drainage, which is grossly connected to sinus infections and netti pots.

But it turns out that sinuses connect to our teeth through the alveolar process, which is why when your back teeth hurt you might have a sinus infection and not a tooth infection. I already knew the word aleveolar from “the alveolar ridge,” which some of you may not be aware of. No, it is not a mountain range in Sikkim. It is what holds our teeth sockets. You can feel it if you stick your tongue right behind your teeth. I admit that the only reason I know this is from all the Anglo Saxon classes I took in college where we learned the history of English, as in the language English. You can’t say dragon or kill or tooth without touching the alveolar ridge with your tongue, that is, unless you are from Brooklyn. Then you say tooth and dragon by touching your tongue to the back of your teeth. At least that’s what our professor told us and he was from Brooklyn.

“So what?” you ask. Well, sometimes I am concerned by how much goes on behind skin that I don’t know about and can’t control. It is worse than not knowing how a television set works. Maybe that is because this is day 7 of a sick son whose sinuses are clearly doing something. I think of myself as a thinking, feeling person named Charlotte. But really I (like you) am much more — a bunch of organs, pulsing and seething etc., with a complicated web of tendony things holding it all together, and then all those bones. It frightens me how little I know. Probably, I should have been taking anatomy, not Advanced Beowulf.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. karen permalink
    October 23, 2011 6:03 pm

    I often wonder why we were not made to be able to see all those inner workings from the outside. We know when things on the outside don’t look right. It’d be the same, I’d think, for our insides if they were always visible to us. So there must be a reason why they aren’t. I wonder what it is.

  2. athenebristol permalink
    October 24, 2011 2:30 pm

    Thank you for the information. I still think Beowulf is more interesting but some totally different input is stimulating.

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