A couple of weeks ago, I shared my account of a very unwelcome dental affliction that took me much deeper into the world of tooth repair than I ever wanted to venture.
The problem was brought to my attention by my friendly dental hygienist, Mary. This lady has visited my mouth so often through the years, she knows every bump and groove. Fortunately, she usually gives me a new toothbrush and her bright smile, along with a clean bill of mouth health.
But not this time. While cleaning my pearly whites, she had discovered a problem area. It was an old root canal that had, unfortunately, gone bad. So, Mary, the efficient professional, sent me to an endodontist who would perform the first stage of a re-root canal procedure.
When I went to the young dental specialist, he used his arsenal of tools on the target area, then sent me back to my long-time regular dentist, Dr. R.
Without enthusiasm, I went to Dr. R’s office as scheduled for part two of this stressful procedure. It would be devoted to taking an impression for the future installation.
Next, I was told to return for part three, the day I would receive the new “post,” eventual home of a spiffy new tooth cap.
On the appointed day Lisa, Dr. R’s assistant, came to get me from the waiting room, where I admit, I was doing a bit of cowering.
I’m not ashamed to own up to the fact I’m a confirmed dental coward. But, from what friends tell me, I’m far from alone. Folks who prefer to avoid the dental chair at all costs make up a large, quivering portion of society.
I finally loosened my grip on the waiting room chair and followed Lisa into the inner office. There, I settled nervously into the seat of honor and the work began. With both Dr. R. and Lisa taking turns shoving their hands and various pieces of equipment into my now-deadened mouth, the step-by-step process slowly moved forward.
I’m always grateful that these folks don’t try to engage me in friendly conversation while they are working. As much as I enjoy talking, doing so with a mouth full of hardware and hands stifles my normal eloquence.
The session dragged on and on. But at long last, Lisa reached the “pick a color” stage of the operation.
Handing me a mirror, she asked me to judge which substitute tooth would most closely match my on-board set.
In this situation, all I could think was that one white looks very much like another. I told her, “I’ll just rely on your professional judgement.”
Finally, she said, “I think this one is best,” and she read off some cryptic number understood only by the dental elite.
With that, she installed my new addition from her impressive selection of substitute teeth.
Back home with my spiffy temporary tooth proudly taking its place of honor at the forefront of my mouth, I felt fortunate I survived yet another stint in the dental chair. There will be one more visit, I’m told. That will be the culmination of this long adventure in dental anxiety. With the permanent tooth finally in place, I can once again drive quickly by Dr. R’s office, knowing my name is not on his schedule — for the time being.
In the meantime, I’ve reaffirmed my commitment to brushing and flossing.
Although folks like Mary, Lisa and Dr. R. are very valuable members of society and, I’m sure, wonderful friends in the outside world, the dental coward in me feels the less I see of them, the better.
I’m sure they’ll understand.