Went to the dentist today to have the very last tooth on the top left side of my mouth prepped for a crown. Seems the 35-year old filling had taken a beating and some decay had developed around it. In short, it needed a break or it was going to break my tooth.
Now I have a great dentist: he’s gentle, checks in often to make sure I’m OK, explains what he’s going to do and what he’s doing, and we argue about politics when he doesn’t have a bunch of torture devices in my mouth. But I hate, hate, hate going. I had some bad dental experiences when I was kid, so I’m always sure something is going to hurt or some instrument is going to be dropped and make its way down my throat. My dentist knows about my anxiety and is always very reassuring. Still, by the time he walks into the room I’ve tensed up so much my neck is out of whack and I’ve squeezed the chair so tight my hand impressions will be there for days.
Yesterday was no different. As he so often does, kind and gentle dentist chatted with me for a bit, then moved into an explanation of the procedure. “It’ll take about an hour and a half,” he said. “If I live that long,” I thought.
First came the injections. Kind and gentle dentist is actually a pretty good shooter, so I wasn’t too worried. But despite my reputation, I actually do not have a very large mouth, and for yesterday’s procedure, that presented a problem. Since my “open wide” wasn’t wide enough, kind and gentle dentist had to pry my mouth open to get the needle where he needed it. I was pretty sure my jaw was going to break.
I raised my hand, our signal that I had something to say. Once I was able, I said, “You’re breaking my f-ing jaw” (yes, I said f-ing. I’m not THAT crass). “I know it hurts,” says kind and gentle dentist, but I need room to work. Once you’re numb you won’t feel a thing.”
Unfortunately, the rest of the procedure required more room than my mouth had to give as well. While I tried to recall passages from Cicero (we’re discussing De Oratore in class this week), kind and gentle dentist pried my mouth open further and further until tears started rolling down my cheeks. He apologized for hurting me and promised me it wouldn’t take too much longer. And, to be far, it didn’t. Not that part anyway. But then there was the yucky plaster I had to bite into then have pried off my teeth, and other unpleasantries.
By the time I left, I was still pretty numb, but I treated myself to a mocha anyway and drank from one side of my mouth. Once the Novocaine wore off, though, I was in pretty bad shape. Even eating a banana was painful. My jaw hurt throughout the day, and I didn’t get much sleep last night.
I’m better today. I think if I can avoid chewing and yawning for the next 24 hours I’ll be in shape to talk to my class on Thursday.
Sadly I have to go back in two weeks for the permanent crown. I think I drink heavily before hand.