Who out there loves going to the dentist?
Me neither. And I never get to go just for a cleaning. Or even a whitening treatment, though goodness knows I could use one. Coffee and wine aren’t kind to teeth that have been exposed to the elements for four decades. If I’m not careful, I might get poached for my ivory.
No, when I do go it is because I’m forced into it. This last time was because a filling came out. It just dropped. It would have rolled away had it been more marble than shard. One minute I had a front tooth, the next a fang. In the words of my friend, Sarah, “That’s pretty.” (Except she was referring to an awkward typo I’d inadvertently created in an email, not my uneven teeth.)
I went to the dentist. He is a great dentist. The best I have ever gone to. And cute. He’s in his seventies, has a full head of white hair, and amazing skills with drills. I still remember with fondness how he dropped one of my crowns before it could be attached, got a coat hanger, and whacked it out from under the sink. It was great comic relief at a time I really needed it. Laughing, though, was hard. I was still full of local anesthetic and couldn’t feel my head. I think I smiled and drooled a bit, but he wiped my face with my bib before it could drip.
My dentist repaired my fang and sent me home. On the way my husband and I stopped by the liquor store (for obvious reasons) and got a bottle of red wine. As I was browsing the French section I felt my tooth shift. I shrugged it off. Sometimes teeth loosen a bit while they’re being worked on. It would firm up. I was wrong.
The next day filling #2 fell out. I was fanged once again. It was the weekend. I was going to have to wait until Monday to make another appointment. I wasn’t happy. But at least I had a bottle of wine.
Then tragedy struck. Not real tragedy. But one of those minor tooth tragedies. A whole different tooth fell out. Not a filling. Not a cap. But the whole root canal minus the gutta percha. I had roots. I had canals. But I didn’t have a tooth. I had what looked like a corn-nut.
Nothing hurt. No nerves had been exposed. Nothing needed an antibiotic. But in the words of my husband, I was rotting on the hoof.
The dentist got me in the next day. I envisioned several visits. One to assess the damage. Another to prepare the fang for capping. Another to cap the fang. Another to fix the root canal. Maybe even surgery to remove the corn nut. Or my right jaw.
Not so. He did both teeth in one visit.
I told you he was good.
First he numbed my right side from the waist up. I couldn’t even hear with my right ear. I envisioned my earhole puckered shut like a cat’s sphincter, but didn’t ask for a mirror. Or my cell phone to take a picture.
Then he set to work. First the corn-nut.
Did you know that to reattach a crown that had broken off at the gum-line, one used a drill, a spike, and bonding resin that smells like burning tea kettles? I got two spikes drilled in. It felt like a two-seater was taking off in my head. My nose vibrated like a buzz saw. But no pain.
Next was my fang. By then my anesthetic was wearing off. No pain, but if he didn’t work quickly, I knew I was soon going to feel every prod and pick.
He knew that as well. And that’s when he starting slinging drill. He was like the fastest gun in the West. He filled, cured, shaped, and polished in a matter of minutes – the drill, grit, and liquid flying. I kept expecting him to slip and shoot the drill into my eye. But no, he was focused, careful, and very, very good. His assistant was hard pressed to keep up, but she did.
But all that meant that there was no time (nor room) for swallowing. Or for blinking. Or for breathing. Or, for that matter, unclenching my butt. It was going to take the Jaws of Life to get me out of that chair. Either that, or I would have to drag it home behind me until I could get in the Jacuzzi.
It felt like twenty miners on meth were in my mouth looking for ore. At times I could have sworn that there were more than twenty fingers under my tongue. But no pain. He beat the time limit on the Novacain. And fixed my teeth. Perfectly. In ONE VISIT.
That man deserves a medal. Dr. W. D. Harris in Springdale. Or, at the very least, a sheriff’s badge.
Of course, now, I’m scared of food. Nothing crunchy. Nothing hard. Nothing chewy. That leaves me with water and yellow Spam jelly. No problem. I can do that. Maybe I’ll loose weight.
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