Besides my daily brishing and flossing ritual, I don't usually spend a lot of time thinking about teeth. That is, until one goes astray and makes itself known beyond its purpose. I had a wayward tooth that decided it should consume my every thought so knew quickly that it was time to call for reinforcements, and ASAP! I dutifully phoned my dentist, but he had recently retired. Luckily, they were able to refer me, and I got an appointment for last Monday at 0800 for you military types and I arrived right on time. It was a lovely office with soft chairs and background music guaranteed to lower my blood pressure and make me hate less the two words that dentist said aloud: root canal. These words strike me as unpleasant, akin to mammogram and colonoscopy, all of which are highly invasive to my wrinkly, crinkly body.
“Open wide and bite on this,” the young, but friendly, dental assistant said as she X-rayed my mouth with a 360-degree X-ray machine. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have teeth in the back of my head, so I’m not sure what’s going on with 360-degree machines. But I complied.
Moments later, I was in the chair, which is sort of like a bad bed, and the dentist swabbed my gums, followed by a needle to numb everything in my mouth, followed by a second needle. My brain said “Uh-oh, Gail, this is a two-needle job. Big trouble. Little did I know that this invasion into my mouth would require a mid-procedure third shot of the magic numbing substance. My eyeballs were growing numb, but the affected gum must have been immune to the magic.
The assistant adjusted the television on the ceiling, and as luck would have it, the movie of the day was Little Shop of Horrors with Steve Martin as a sadistic dentist, which did not give me any relief from my newly acquired disease, Tomophobia, or fear of forthcoming surgical procedures. The assistant saw my clenched hands and bigger-than-usual eyes and knew something was up, and said, “What movie would you like?” As if I could talk with a mouthful of hardware, software, cotton balls, probes, watering tubes and a miniature vacuum, which sucked the heck out of my mouth, and I swear it gave me a hickey. The drill came later, although I’m not sure how the dentist found room to insert it.
When he began to drill, the shrill whirr echoed through my hearing aids, but remember, I’m a Marine and could tolerate noise (but not pain). Steve Martin was entertaining, and the dentist occasionally patted me on the shoulder, “Is everything good?” Oh, yeah, you betcha, I’m right where I want to be.
All of a sudden, it was over, the root canal was finished, or so I thought. “I got it started,” he said, “but that tooth is crooked, and I’ll need a week to recover before I can face it again.” He didn’t really say that, but I do have to go back and subject myself to more of the same. Monday morning, 0800 where I will live the Saga of Gail’s Root Canal Round Two.
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