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A crowning event

Agriculture.com Staff 08/27/2007 @ 7:30am

My wife was recently crowned.

No, she didn't receive the type of crown that's worn on the head, although she is certainly the queen of my heart and our home. Sadly, her new crown is the kind that sits on the top of a tooth, which means that hardly anyone will see it.

And that's a shame, because her little tooth-type crown set us back about as much as the gold-based, jewel-encrusted headgear often seen at coronations.

My wife is somewhat unusual in that she is the only person I know who could literally make her own crown. When I first met her, she was employed as a dental lab technician and built crowns, bridges and dentures.

I enticed her away from her glamorous, fast-paced dental technician career with stories of a charming, profitable life as a dairy farm wife. Luckily for me, by the time she figured out that my dairy farm was neither charming nor profitable she had given birth to our two sons and felt obligated to stay. I believe the word she uses to describe it is "stuck."

When I learned that my wife needed a costly dental crown I asked, "Couldn't you, theoretically speaking, take a hunk of wood or ivory and carve yourself a new tooth?"

She said she could, but that the result wouldn't be very pretty. She told me could do a much better job with a few rudimentary tools.

These tools would include: A quantity of modeling wax, some plaster mix (she was one of the few people who could get plastered at work and not be fired), an industrial oven, an oxyacetylene torch, a small but high-quality crucible and a centrifugal casting machine.

Oh, and also a hand piece. Surprisingly, this does not refer to a pistol; it instead means a small, air-powered doohickey that emits a high-pitched whine that causes your skin to crawl and your toes to curl. In other words, it sounds just like a dentist's drill.

Yeah, sure. I've got all that stuff somewhere down in the basement.

An interesting perk of my wife's previous life as a molar manufacturer is her ability to understand dentist-speak and to "talk shop" with dentists. Such a conversation might go something like this:

"Once," confesses the dentist, "I ran into a sagittal bruxism on an interproximal bicuspid. What a mess!"

"Yeah," my wife might reply, "That can be a real problem. I liked to use the infarction spanner method to correct that, and maybe install a frenum abductor on the mesial to keep it from reoccurring."

"A frenum abductor on the mesial? Hunh! I would have never thought of that!"

My wife is trained in the so-called "lost wax" method of metal casting, a process that is used to make everything from teeth to turbochargers. It's comforting to know that should we find ourselves stranded on a desert island with an airplane that has a broken engine -- an island where the appropriate casting materials just happen to be handy -- my wife would be capable of making us a brand-new crankshaft.

It's not like she hasn't done such a thing before. Back when we were newlyweds she worked for a local dental firm, making plaster models, creating night guards (for all you nocturnal teeth-grinders), and crafting custom trays.

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