For the entirity of my life, I have remained “untouched,” for lack of a better word. I like to say that, with the slight exception of my wisdom teeth, I am the same person now as I was the day my mother evicted me from her loins. Growing up I never needed glasses or braces and thanks to good genes and a penchant for teeth brushing, I have enjoyed 26 years of cavity freedom.
As a child going to the dentist was more fun than anything my eight year old heart could dream up. I loved going to the dentist. I never understood why people feared the gentle soul behind the mask. From where I sat, cavity-free without a care in the world, I didn’t see anything so off-putting (except maybe the constant reminder to floss) that would strike fear into the hearts of grown men.
Until recently, that is. For the last three years, I have avoided going to the dentist like it was my job. After college, I was diagnosed with a heart condition that mandated I pre-medicate before each and every dental visit. Not a huge deal except that the medication made me crazy naseous and miserable. The more time that passed, the more awkward I felt about the situation (kind of like the when someone calls and you never call back and then you dread calling back because SO much time has passed and how will you ever excuse your poor manners so you avoid that person until you run into them in the checkout line at the grocery store and are forced to make painfully mundane conversation until the angst ridden teenager behind the register rings up the last of your Hot Pockets) so I never made an appointment because I had no good reason not to go and I didn’t want to try to explain my multi-year absence to the hygenist as she prodded my molars with pointy objects.
Over the last few weeks, though, I had begun to notice a rather unwelcome throbbing pain in my upper molars. Instinctively, I knew it was time to pay the piper. It was cavity time. I had pains similar to this come and go but all of them had disappeared over time. This pain wanted to be my BFF. This pain wanted to take me behind the middle school and get me pregnant (thank you 30 Rock). I was terrified, knowing that the streak was ending and my last remaining claim to fame would shortly be kaput. The idea of novicane and needles and (oh my god) the drill-of-death was enough to make me want to pull out my teeth with a rusty pair of pliers just to avoid the shame.
Ebin was on me, constantly, to make an appointment. His last words before he went in to have his own wisdom teeth pulled were, “While you’re waiting, ask the lady behind the desk if she’s taking on new patients.” I didn’t, I couldn’t and I successfully avoided the inevitable for another 24 hours.
Then, yesterday, when the pain refused to shut up for five minutes, I found a pair of bollucks under my desk and called to make an appointment with a dentist in my old neighborhood. From the outside, the office looked posh, with a fireplace and big comfortable chairs. When I called and explained my situation, the woman on the other end was able to fit me in the next day! Now that’s service.
I dreaded the damn appointment all day. I was in a horrible mood and on the verge of tears whenever I thought of my impending dental failure. Somehow, I made it to my appointment on time with all ten nails unchewed and a minimal amount of anxiety. The office was everything I had hoped it would be and the people were so nice and friendly. Even the patients just walking out of several hours of dental surgery managed to lighten my spirits with his exertions that he didn’t feel a thing. They took me back into the belly of the beast, the nurses watching me walk the hall like it was the green mile, and I have to tell you that this was quite possibly the plushest exam room I have ever seen in my entire life. State of the art, digital everything with television screens ON THE CEILING.
After a short pleading with the technician to take special care, I was in the chair and the weird paper bib thing was being strung around my neck. The dentist popped out of nowhere and then his hands were in my mouth, tapping and poking and prodding with instruments of varying sizes and pointiness. X-rays were next and after 15 minutes, the dentist reclaimed his seat next to me and carefully read me his verdict.
After weeks of fearful hand wringing, my fears of cavities were proven…groundless!! I have deep groves, deeper than normal, and an omega shaped bite, but my enamel, from what he could see, was in near perfect condition. My problem seemed rooted in nightime teeth clenching and grinding, most likely brought on my stress and fatigue. I’ll probably need a custom appliance to prevent any further erosion but appliance does NOT equal long needles and painful drilling. Hooray!