My Dentist

It’s 0850 when I open the door to enter the office. There are 4 people already there which isn’t a surprise since the office opens at 0700. One of the staff members was talking with one of the ‘waiters’, and everyone in the place seemed to be joining in, making it a happy place to be. However, as soon as I stepped through the door, all talking stopped. I’m sure they were all talking about me before I got there, and hadn’t expected me to be 10 minutes early, so felt confident they could get there ‘digs’ in before I arrived.

That isn’t true, of course. I’m sure the merriment ceased upon my arrival because they didn’t know me and were a little concerned about how I might react to a waiting room half full of laughing people. So, to defuse the situation, I accused them of all of talking about me and that they could continue with no concern for me. And, they did. I didn’t know any of them, and my delivery was accepted the way I intended, that they needn’t stop just because a new stranger walked into their midst. I’m not shy that way.

I also talk to people in elevators which makes most of them uncomfortable. On a good elevator trip, I’ll be the last one aboard a loaded car. I’ll step in and remain facing the back of the car, making eye contact with anyone willing to look at me, then smile. Sometimes I attempt to get them all to sing “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands … CLAP CLAP,” or I might simply start humming “It’s A Small World”. There’s generally no response to the former, but the latter creates a light-hearted atmosphere that causes people to thank me for planting that song in their heads for the remainder of the day as they leave the car. Most of the time they all get off at the first stop whether it’s their floor or not.

Things in the waiting room returned to normal and I assumed my waiting position and … waited. My appointment was for 0900. My dentists name is Dr. Grimm. That’s not a joke. It’s really his name. He’s a nice guy and very good at what he does. I like him because he’s not a pretentious person.

I’ve visited this office a number of times, and have been placed in different work stations, so I know he’s not a Lutheran. If he was, I would be assigned the same operatory every time. No moving around. No sir. Just like church. His assistant today was Tyra, a very nice young lady with excellent teeth … a pre-requisite for anyone working in a dental office. In my experience, all dental assistants and chairside people are adorable young ladies. In all the years I’ve been going to the dentist, I’ve known of one male assistant, and he was gay. The gay part isn’t significant, just fact. Could be some of the female assistants are also gay, but it’s not so evident with them, and I don’t particularly care, or mind. They are all adorable. Even the gay guy assistant was adorable.

Tyra taped a large napkin to my chest, and had me sign something that gave them permission to pull a tooth. The choice of which tooth was mine to make, but they had a suggestion. Considering that I was dealing with experts swayed my decision in favor of their choice which made them happy. Dr. Grimm, however, was open for also pulling the other tooth I was sure I didn’t need. Clearer heads prevailed, however, and we settled on the one they chose. It was in sad shape and just had to be put down.

I was reclined back so far I couldn’t relax because my tongue kinda slid back and prevented me from breathing unless I sent it a continuous stream of commands to remain firm, which it did. Then Dr. Grimm took hold of my right cheek and started wiggling it as a diversion then stealthily slid his syringe full of numbing agent into the area, on the outer part of the top right tooth, and slid it slowly, oh so slowly, into my flesh. Because he did it slowly, and was also wiggling my cheek, I didn’t feel a thing.

Then he went away to let things go numb, and I read my iPad for a while. When he returned he reported that he needed to give me shots on the inside of the tooth also, in the roof of my mouth. He needlessly warned me that such shots are normally pretty uncomfortable for most people, but it had to be done or the sound of my shrieking, as he removed the tooth, would bother his other patients. I already knew this, of course, so relaxed as much as I could, and opened wide.

The shot itself isn’t really all that bad. It’s the sensation of him moving the syringe all over the place that concerns me the most because I know he’s moving it around without taking the needle all the way out. He just punched through the crunchy part in the roof of my mouth, causing a considerable level of pain, maybe a 6, squirted some of the contents in, pulled the needle back out a little ways, then moved it to a new angle and pushed it in again. Thankfully, the numbing agent acted quickly so the level 6 was as bad as it got.

Thinking he was going to depart and let the last shots go to work, I was surprised when he rattled some tools and went right to work. Memories of the last tooth I had pulled, many, many, many years ago, caused a brief moment of panic because it wasn’t a pleasant experience. During that operation, after deadening the area, the dentist simply clamped a set of pliers to the offending tooth, and yanked it around until he got it out. There was nothing gentle about it. Dr. Grimm, however, took one of his tools and just started pushing on the tooth, one way, then the other, loosening it very gently. Once he had it wiggling, he got his pliers and gently twisted it until the tendons broke, then pulled it free. When tooth tendons break, by the way, it sounds like the crack of a whip all over inside your head and it kinda makes your eyes open a little wider, to see things more clearly. It’s brief, and he explained it, so I felt no need to panic.

Once it was removed I was asked if I wanted to keep it. Of course I did. I keep all my teeth. Besides, if I didn’t keep it, someone else would give it to the tooth fairy and cheat me out of money I had rightfully earned.

I was retained in the chair for a pre-determined amount of time, to allow the first wad of gauze to absorb the blood seeping out of the new hole that was created in my mouth. Tyra called time, and took the gauze out, and replaced it with another wad. The first one had surprisingly little blood on it because I, being familiar with bleeding injuries, intentional or otherwise, know that pressure on the wound is the key. So, I was biting down hard the entire time. Also, I clot up quickly, which helps.

After paying my bill, $300 and change, I was given a schedule for my next appointment that will cost almost $1000. It’s supposed to be a crown, but I’m thinking that we might just yank that one out, too. It’s a lot cheaper and, let’s face it, I’m OK with soft food. I don’t need all those fancy teeth to eat a banana. I can just chew on stuff until it gets soft then swallow, or, if it’s something that absolutely must be masticated a great deal, I can use the other side of my mouth. Ya, I think I’ll just skip the new crown and go for the extraction.

Now I’m home, resting. I told Diane I was given three days bed rest, but she didn’t believe me. She’s worked for a number of dentists during our travels and knows how it works so it was foolish of me to try to trick her. She did, however, concede that I could have one day off to rest before taking on the projects already started, or new ones making themselves known.

Now I must change my gauze and rest.

4 thoughts on “My Dentist

  1. You do realize that you are about a blog and a half from your own TV series. I think that Larry David should be cast for your part and that lady that was so attractive in Dances With Wolves should play Dianne. She’s probably georgous still, so it would be appropriate. LD would have to “un flake” himself but his sense of humor would be spot on! :-).

  2. This might of been the most painful reading Ive read of yours…Im in so much pain I need to find a pain pill and go to bed…. OUCH!! And to think Tom had 13 teeth pulled a month and a half ago….I guess I wasnt in pain with him cause he told me NO details…..

    • Tom’s one of those “tough” guys. You could probably amputate his toes and he’d just shrug. If I’d had that many teeth pulled at once I’d be useless. Some might say I’m useless now, however, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Nitrous oxide that’s the key to a successful trip to the dentist. Unfortunately, my current dentist doesn’t use it.

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