First, know that my team (yes, there’s a team of them so that should tell you something) of dentists and hygienists rock, hard. They’re top-drawer, top-notch, top-whatever the hell other lame cliche you can conjure, just in case some of you know who these people are. The following is substantially true.
Just a few hours ago, I settled in to the high-backed recliner and looked out through the large windows in my usual cleaning room. A cool and sunny morning with the moon, although 240,000 miles away, appearing quite clearly like a wad of gauze hanging over the spire of the nearby Baptist church.
“I brushed my teeth this morning before I came in,” I said in hopes of impressing my hygienist whose name I can never remember. “Longer and harder than normal to make the cleaning easier. And I flossed, which I can never remember until I come in. It’s kinda painful when I haven’t done it in a while,” I noted while my tongue gently probed my gums, which had swollen significantly since leaving the house.
She wheeled her chair over to the doorway, leaned around the thick walls into the next room and said to someone, “I’m gonna need more cotton rolls. Yep, just gimme that whole box.”
As she rolled back to me she said, “you really didn’t need to do that,” and began unpacking the box, adding more of the little swabs to a pile already on the tray.
“Oh, it’s no problem.” I thought I saw her face bunch up around the sides of her mask but maybe she was just itching her nose.
“Okay, we have you down for a cleaning, and x-rays today…” she said.
“Yep, that’s me. Easy peasy!”
“…and a cavity. No, sorry, make that two cavities.”
Trying to play it cool after fishing my tongue out of my throat, “Oh yeah? Huh, I don’t recall that.”
“We marked three and eighteen for replacement last time. Was no hurry so we scheduled it for this time. They’re the old silver fillings that often need to be replaced,” she explained.
“So you’re saying it’s not my fault. Bound to happen sooner or later? That’s what I can tell my wife?” I asked to clarify that I was on solid legal ground.
“Yes, the material used for fillings is better now.”
She proceeded with the x-rays and the cleaning, and after tying up the trash bag full of reddened cotton rolls and giving me a towlie to wipe my face, she said I needed to move to another room for the cavities, and maybe something about needing to clean up her room more before her next appointment. “But I really need to go pee,” I said. “To the bathroom down by the elevators? I promise I’ll be back.” I really did need to go. As my family knows well, my bladder is the size of a lentil.
While in the bathroom I sent a text to my wife about the turn that my appointment had taken. Her response was immediate.: “You’ll do great…you’re a big boy.”
Once I got seated the dentist came in, looked over my chart, and swabbed some pink slime to the base of my gums inside my right cheek and said, “I think we’re going to do this one on the left, number eighteen, without Novocaine.”
“Pardon?” I said, feeling my tongue trying to retreat back behind my epiglottis.
“A Novocaine shot on that side would be more painful than just doing without,” he explained.
“Uh, but you should know I’m a huge pussy.”
“Trust me. The shot would be worse. On eighteen I’d need to block the nerve to your whole jaw. If you feel any sensitivity at all, just raise your left hand and we’ll do the Novocaine, OK?”
So I practiced a few frantic waves of my hand, closed my eyes, and put my head back.
Even more surprising to me than learning that nine metal rods and a suction tube could all fit in my mouth at one time was that the unmedicated side actually hurt less than the other. Maybe I was a big boy!
After finishing, he got up and said see you next time. And as I got out of the chair, I saw that my hands had sweat out a crescent-shaped blob, like fat smiling lips right across my crotch. Nope, still a huge tooth fairy.