To Tell The Tooth

My track record at the dentist over the past 20+ years has been flawless. I have had no problems, cavities, inflammations or anything. I’ve gone in every six months (at least during the past few years) and had my cleaning and x-rays done. I even still have my wisdom teeth, even though my dentist tried for years to get me to have them removed. My perfect record ended yesterday.

Six months ago I went in and had my x-rays and cleaning with no issues. So it never occurred to me that yesterday would be any different. Then Dr. Bates started talking dental-ese about some sort of crack in one of my teeth. As I’m laying there with my mouth open, my eyes got wide and I told him to speak English. Two of my fillings (those that are over 23 years old) have tiny cracks around them. This means that the old silver filling must come out to be replaced by a new, enamel-colored one. Ok, that’s great that I’ll get rid of the nasty silver filling for a clean one, but the last filling experience I had was so horrific it’s etched in my mind as if it happened yesterday.

When I was about 20, I had two teeth that needed fillings. They were on the same side of my mouth, one above and one below. Both were going to be filled the same day because it was easy to numb one side of my mouth and take care of business. I was nervous so Dr. Bates prescribed some Valium for me before the procedure. I went in and they gave me two shots (one above and one below), left me to numb for a few minutes, then started drilling. I jumped. Not numb yet. So they waited a bit more then proceeded again. I jumped. This went on until they decided on a couple more shots. No biggie since I couldn’t feel them anyway. Lather, rinse, repeat. Six shots later and I never got completely numb. He had to proceed with me jumping and gripping the chair for dear life. I got home, called in sick to work and crashed. When I awoke and the numbness started wearing off, I discovered I’d chewed up the inside of my cheek while it was numb. This was one of the worst experiences of my life.

I relayed to Dr. Bates that the last time he’d done some fillings on me it had been a terrible experience. He assured me he’d had some practice over the last few years. Joking aside, I told him that I wasn’t up for a repeat and he said we’d only do one at a time this time. I still wasn’t thrilled. The minute I left the office I called our family dental professional, my brother-in-law Blair, to drill him (pun intended) about the procedure. The best piece of information he gave me is that over time our tooth nerves shrink so I probably won’t be as sensitive as I was last time. Also, if the Novocaine doesn’t work, they have another drug that they use in emergencies that’s guaranteed to numb the mouth.

We’ll see. I’m still not convinced.

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