Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Adventures in Dentistry

I've got no problem with long thin needles being inserted into my gum-line. No problem with the sound of a drill. But I do have a problem with dentists.

Like most psychological problems, it's rooted in my youth.

My childhood dentist was a jolly fellow, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Philadelphia kiddy-show host Captain Noah. (But without the mutton chop sideburns and captain suit - damn!)

He referred to my teeth as "choppers" and liked to use nitrous oxide to put me to sleep so he could pull my baby teeth. At the visit's conclusion there was a treasure chest of flicker rings to choose from.

Oh, the happy memories.

Never had a cavity throughout my childhood...or so I thought...until I came across a large hole developing between two of my teeth. (Evidently dental floss hadn't been invented yet.) But Captain Dentist didn't seem to notice anything wrong.

Eventually, I switched dentists and found I had SIX cavities. Although the new dentist unfortunately didn't resemble a kiddy-show host, he was a nice guy who actually took x-rays (but darn, no nitrous oxide) and all was well in oral land.

But then I had to go and move.

Resorted to a phone book for my next dentist. I was living on the Main Line in Philadelphia. Theoretically, any dentist in that upscale area should have been perfectly qualified, so I made my appointment.

Walking into the office was like time-travelling back into a black and white episode of the Twilight Zone. The waiting room, if you could call it that, consisted of a couple of ancient chairs and a wooden desk piled high with papers. The dentist (old guy) and the assistant (resembling the plump Anna Nicole Smith) greeted me at the door. They were nearly doing a jig in delight -- an actual patient!

Nowadays, I would've run out the door with any sort of excuse -- I forgot, I have to bake a cake! It's against my religion to have dental work done by a crazy old man!

But then I was less assertive.

The chair appeared to have been manufactured sometime in the 1800s. Visions of Little Shop of Horrors danced through my head, as the dentist gave me the most painful cleaning I have ever had.

Years passed before I summoned the courage to go back in the chair. Then I started dating a guy I'll call "Steve" (mostly because that was his name.) It was love. Um, not with Steve, but with his friend Brent, the dentist.

He was the dentist of my dreams. Such spectacular fillings!

Eventually, another man entered the picture -- my husband...and then there was that whole moving to Jersey thing. Although I continued to see Brent for a while, even the superlative fillings weren't worth driving one-and-a-half hours for.

And my husband had a perfectly competent dentist close to home. All was well, until our stupid company went and changed insurance, which Perfectly Competent Dentist did not accept.

Which all leads me to my current dentist, who is a lovely lady, but never quite seems to get it right the first time.

Yesterday I went in to have the bonding replaced on my two front teeth (this after many mentions by dental staff about how much nicer my teeth would look if I had it redone, since the color didn't match anymore.)

I did have some apprehension, because two of the three fillings Lovely Lady Dentist has done for me have prompted me to go back the next day for "adjustments" (as in, removing sharp edges and wayward pieces of filling material.)

But all the sycophantic staff said what great work she did on bonding, and I decided to go for it.

So I'm flat on my back for a half hour or so, and the work is finished...Lovely Dentist and assistant both say how wonderful it leaves the room to check on another patient while the assistant hands me the mirror.

Wait! Are my eyes focused properly? My right front tooth is now bigger than the left, and they are two completely different shapes. My smile appears crooked, as the line between the two front teeth goes off on a slant!

"Oh yes," Lovely Dentist says when she comes back in the room (after ten minutes or so of me-silently-freaking-out-while-looking-at-myself-in-the-mirror.) "You're right. You have a good eye -- you should be a dentist." (Hmm, I was kinda thinking the same thing right about now...)

I didn't bother to ask why she didn't see the size disparity like, um, when she was working on my teeth? I honestly think they were hoping I wouldn't notice. However, not being blind, I did.

She had to redo the whole darn thing, and I must say that now it does look very, very nice.


But it may be years before my psyche recovers.

In the meantime, I'm gonna floss...ACT rinse...whatever it takes to keep that drill away from my mouth. Although Lovely Dentist is "watching" a few teeth and keeps saying I really should have that old wisdom tooth filling replaced...


At April 13, 2006 9:57 PM, Blogger Merujo said...

Oh man - I have to see my dentist next week, and I *know* I need a root canal, dang it.

But I love my dentist - she has great music playing, aromatherapy candles, and little DVD players with viewer goggles and earphones if you don't want to hear what's going on...

At April 14, 2006 8:02 AM, Blogger Cyn said...

Okay, now I have a serious case of dentist envy. Aromatherapy? Gee, does that mean you miss the distinctive smell of portions of your teeth being vaporized by the drill?

My dentist does have TVs in each room, which are really nice for those times spent waiting for Dr. to come in or novocaine to take effect. But once the drilling starts you can't hear (or see) the television. So that DVD idea is excellent.

I don't suppose you could persuade her to expand her practice into South Jersey?

At April 15, 2006 11:16 PM, Blogger Merujo said...

She's rockin' cool - would you believe I found her through a local cable tv ad? Talk about a leap of faith! Her office is in the shopping mall just north of my apartment building. Love, love, love going to the dentist now!

(Well, okay - as much as anyone without some weird fetish can love going to the dentist...)


Post a Comment

<< Home