Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9-14-11 I am a rabid anti-dentite!

Confession time: I AM a rabid anti-dentite. I hate going to the dentist. And it's too bad, because I'm pretty sure Eric is a really nice guy, even if he is a dentist. But I'll never know, because if I ever see him at a party I'll freeze up and start hearing scraping and drilling sounds and have to run for the door.

I'm pretty sure this started because every 6 months I would find myself in Dr. Richards chair as a kid (and Dr. Richards was a nice guy too) forcing myself to count the tiles on the ceiling instead of leaping out of the chair and seizing the nearest instrument of torture to brandish around like some demon child. So many caities. So many fillings, with needles and silver squashed and shoved into your mouth. And the flouride treatments. My God, let's not forget that particular brand of torture saved for the little ones. Not only must you put this vile liquid in your mouth and bathe it all over every surface, but you must then go home and have nothing to drink for an hour afterward.

So when I got married and we were utterly without any sense, I just stopped going. Finally, after 6 years, I broke down and returned, quite sure I would be punished by the tooth gods with a mouth full of rotting teeth. Ah, but the mouth gods are tricky. They let me pass this time. After a 6 year hiatus, no cavities, no gum disease, no nothing. So for the next decade and a half, I managed perhaps two more dentist visits for myself. Each time, no harm, no foul. I got the "try to floss more" lecture once.

When we moved to Colorado it had been a good while, so I made myself go see Eric. Now, after 30 years, the horrible silver fillings are wearing out on the left side and we needed to replace them. Sigh. So not only must I survive the cleaning but I have to come back in a couple of weeks for . . .  needles. That was in 2007.

So, yeah . . .  this week it was time again.

And this time, the tooth gods wrought their vengeance.

I told the hygienist they should probably install a confessional somewhere in the back for sinners like me to cleanse their consciences before their teeth.  She laughed and then looked at the last time I had been in. The laughter kind of faded away in one of those slow motion echo moments.

First up, x-rays. The newest machine you stand inside of, biting down on what appears to be bait, and hang there while the machine circles around, shark-like. The other x-rays were more old style, sitting in the chair while a piece of cardboard that feels like the size of Texas gets positioned in your mouth and, while you feel like you gag reflex is going to get the better of you, the hygienist  then says, "Ok, bite down." ?!?

Then Lori (my hygienist) tells me she's calling in someone else to help her "chart" my teeth. She then proceeds to call out, "3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, etc" When she pauses halfway through, I remark, "If threes are bad, I'm dead." They both laugh and says anything 3 or under is fine. Then she starts up again and I hear, "4, 3, 3, 5, 4, 5, 4, 5, 3, 3 . . ." Well, crap.

The numbers go up to 12, though. 12?!? Is that for pirates or something?

So the 4s and 5s are pockets of spots where the gums are unhealthy and at risk of turning into periodontal disease. Unfortunately, the more studies they do, the more the bacteria in your gums appeas to directly affect the rest of your system, especially your heart. Not good. Time to straighten up. I am told I must return in 3 months and, if things haven't improved, I will be subjected to the dreadful sounding "scaling and root planing."   Save me.

The cleaning portion begins with the ultrasonic wand, which is new, to me at least, so it could be several years old now. It feels like a bug zapper against your teeth. But the sound isn't too bad, which is the key for me. Yes, the pressure and the cutting and the bleeding are bad, but it's the sounds that make me want to take someone hostage.

After she knocks as much as possible off with the sonic water thing, it's time to go old school with the "pick of torture."  Auuuughghghghghg. The sound.

And then . . .  the polishing. It hits a note only dogs should hear but that hits my eardrum like a combination of microphone feedback, fingernails on a chalkboard, and babies screaming all wrapped together.

Finally, Eric (Dr. R) comes in, accepts my confession with that good priestly wave of his hand, repeats the warning about heart health and bacteria, and then tells me . . .  the other side of metal is coming apart at the seams. It's time to change out the other side. To be fair, I get new white ceramic fillings that look a thousand times better than a mouth full of metal, but it entails a return in two weeks, needles, and more sounds.

And here's the kicker. Now that the great wall of plaque has been scraped clean, the space between my bottom two teeth is wider, and I have spent the last 24 hours wearing a sore on the tip of my tongue messing with that gap. I need a bandage for my tongue, ala Flick and the flag pole incident from A Christmas Story.

and that's all I'm going to say about poor Flick . . . 


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