Adventures in Dentistry

Another article from my moldy-oldies file, but when originally published folks did find it entertaining, so I’ll pop in in here.

Yesterday I renewed a relationship that has for many (many) years been neglected.  No, not neglected: avoided;  stringently and purposefully avoided.  I made a trip to a dentist.

You see when I was a wee lad, long (long) ago, my parents would take me to the dentist every year for a check-up.  And it seems he would always find a cavity or two to drill out and fill.  Early on they used Novocain and I don’t remember it as being particularly torturous – not fun by any means, but not like being stripped naked, covered with honey and tossed into a fire ant hill.

But at some point they started using Xylocaine, Lanacane and someothercaine, which for some reason or other didn’t seem to work on me, or at least worked VERY slowly.  Dentists with a waiting room full of patients to process that day were not inclined to let me sit and allow the anesthetic to work, so the dental visits became more and more painful and less and less frequent.

Finally I went in one time as a young adult and the dentist was something out of Little Shop of Horrors (the remake) He did not use a topical anesthetic to numb the jaw a bit first, he went straight for the needle.  And while he proceeded slowly, waiting a bit (about 2 seconds) for each jab to work before going on to the next, he may as well have been using tap water.  I swear it felt like the guy had put a nail gun in my mouth and was shooting 3 penny nails in there.

That was the last time I went to a dentist.

Until yesterday.

Even though I have been fairly diligent about brushing and flossing to keep my teeth healthy, time caught up to me and I found myself in need of professional help.  Our pastor’s wife (Bobby) works as a dental assistant in a clinic and recommended that I come see the doctors she works with.  I trust her, so I went.

Sparing you the gruesome details, I was in the chair for about 3 hours.  No root canal, but some fairly extensive dentistry in the form of grinding and reshaping.  A good part of that time was us waiting for the anesthetic to take hold.  It took 3 rounds of injections to get the site numb, and he was particularly humane about it all.  When it came time to fill the one major cavity, Dr. Mitchell put in the batch of amalgam (filler) and Bobby asked if he would need more.  He said, “Yes … LOTS more” and I thought sure I heard the ‘beep-beep-beep’ of a concrete truck backing in.  It took three batches to fill in the form he’d set up where the back half of my molar used to be.

After it set up some, he removed the form (he called it a matrix) and spent quite a while shaping the glob of metallic stuff into the shape of a tooth, checking to be sure it “fit” right to the tooth above it then polished it up all pretty and smooth.

I’ve lived with it for a couple of days now and aside from a distinct metallic taste and a sensitivity to cold in that tooth, which he said would happen but would go away after a few weeks, everything has been fine.  No misalignment, no pain (other than an achy jaw-joint that evening) no bits breaking off or floating out of who knows where.  And my tongue is no longer being lacerated by broken teeth.  Good Job Doc!!  It won’t be so long before I go in for a check-up now.

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