Look, I inherited a few things from my family. One of them is crappy gums, which has nothing to do with why I’ve not been to the dentist in 15 years. My teeth don’t bother me! When I was in my late teens, my wisdom teeth came in and bled. As my baby brother had recently finished teething, I stole his teethers and used them as my mouth hurt from, you know, teeth coming in the back. But my jaw didn’t really hurt, even though the worst I do is not floss enough and grind my teeth in my sleep when I’m stressed.
The point is I’m not afraid of the dentist. I really don’t mind, it’s just I had a few years of questionable insurance, and then I had a hell of a time finding one who was a fair price. Finally, when my girlfriend needed one, badly, we found a dentist who was nice, friendly, charged my insurance (I owed $20 and got a $20 credit) and when I got home, I was told “Oh and you have an appointment for the 5th.”
I laughed and said ‘Okay.’
I’m not afraid of the dentist. And I’ve had shitty ones (like the one who tried to rip off my dad so he demanded she give him the gold she’d removed from his teeth or charge less) and I’ve had creepy ones (like the guy who got me my nightguard). I probably could take better care of my teeth, as I’ve got a chipped tooth in there, and for all I knew, my jaw pain from clenching my teeth in my sleep is actually from my wisdom teeth than need to be pulled out.
But a dentist is a doctor, and a doctor is a doctor, and the whole point of it is that these are professionals. I don’t complain when a GYN has to check out my girl parts and I don’t fuss about it. These are checkups that can save my life, after all. The dentist? Well, I’ve seen the sarlac pit that is my father’s mouth. I’d like to not look like Austin Powers, thank you very much.
So there was good news. I don’t grind my teeth anymore (or at least not enough to worry about). My gums are fine (very fine, considering it’s been 15 years since my last cleaning). My teeth are healthy.
Bad news? The tartar was bad, not horrible, but bad. And I had a cavity in a wisdom tooth. The same one that had a crack sealed (apparently not very well, hence the cavity) so an appointment was made for noon, in two weeks. Also the drilling and cleaning gave me a phenomenal headache (lasted two days) and made my jaw sore. A week later my jaw wasn’t ‘sore’ and I could eat normally, but crunchy foods on that side were not welcome. Another week goes by and I was off to the dentist again for a noon drilling.
“Let’s try it without drugs,” says the dentist. “It’s small.” She knows I have a high pain tolerance, so off we go. We get a few minutes in and she tsks, “It’s small, but its deep.”
“Grand Canyon?” I ask as she replaces the gauze.
“Yes, something like that.” She got me a wedge to bite down on (which is much easier than holding your mouth open) and went back in to drill deeper. “Tell me if it hurts.”
I give her a thumbs up and we move on. It starts to hurt a little, which she can tell by my wince. “It’s manageable,” I tell her, and we carry on for about five minutes. Then she finds the pain spot. I didn’t jerk, but I held up one finger. She stopped and shaking her head, apologized as she was pretty sure it would hurt.
“I was hoping we could avoid this,” she sighed, putting the topical analgesic (in fruity melon) on my gums and teeth.
“Me too, I hate needles. I’ll close my eyes.”
“I hate them too. I pass out,” she confided and I smiled. Normally, when someone sticks a needle in me, I bite my hand to stay still. Unable to do that, I dug my thumbnail into my other hand and pushed my head back into the headrest. A poke. A moment of sharpness, and then nothing. And more nothing. “Oh,” I laughed as she pulled out the needle.
“Tell me when your lip feels weird,” the assistant asked.
The dentist shows me the needle. “It was only a half dose.”
That’s fine by me, and within a minute, I feel like the time I smashed my face on the ice, skating with Dad. Nothing but cold and hard. “This is cool!” I announce, and they laugh. Back to work, with more gauze and a bite-thing, and it’s drill, drill, drill until finally she’s ready for the cap.
I’ve only had metal fillings before. This was my first amalgaman, and it was fun to be the inside of the EZ Bake oven, when they used the UV to ‘seal’ the stuff. She took time to shape it like my teeth, and then made sure it was even before patting my head and sending me off to pay my bill. Which was $50. That’s it.
The best part was when they were taking all the gauze out and my mouth was so dry, some got stuck on my cheek. The DA laughed. Then I laughed. Then her hand got stuck in my mouth and I kept laughing. Sorry about that.
We got home before 2pm, which was when the dishwasher man was due (he came at 3pm, we need a new sump gasket, boo), and by four my tongue and face felt hot, and finally normal. Ish. It feels like Chuck Norris kicked me.