My Dentist’s Assistant

Lisa. That’s her name. Diane and I have known her for the last 31 years which is pretty amazing because I’m pretty sure she isn’t that old. It could be that I’m just a bad guesser, or that she’s really that old and just doesn’t look the part. Either way, she’s in a position where she can look up my nose at will when I visit my dentist because she’s got the left seat in all events with regard to my mouth’s continued good health.

Concerning looking up the nose … I’ve asked dental assistants and hygienists in the past if they look up people’s noses while they work and without fail they all say, “No!” With an exclamation point! I’m guessing that perhaps they may not have done it in the past, but by asking the question I instilled in them an urge to look. I’ve considered sticking colorful items in my nose to make it worthwhile for them to peek but Diane didn’t think that would be a good idea. So I’ve not done that. Yet.

This morning at 0745 I was parked outside the office and called the office to let them know I was parked outside. That’s the rule. There is no sitting in a waiting room until being called in for the appointment. Nope. Once checked in, we just sit in our vehicles until someone comes out to get us. Then we put on our masks as we’re escorted to The Chair. My mask is made of Sponge Bob material so it’s quite festive. Jennie made it for me.

It was Lisa who came to get me which pleased me because she’s pretty much family. I like that and I trust her implicitly.

The last time I was at the dentist, just a few weeks ago, it was Cheryl who came to get me because I was there to have my teeth cleaned and she’s my hygienist. It was during this cleaning that faulty teeth were found which necessitated today’s visit. It was either faulty teeth, or the Dr. had a car payment pending and needed a little help. Either way, it was necessary.

Lisa got me all prepped in The Chair, took an x-ray, then let the Dr. know I was ready when he was. While waiting for him Lisa held a little raffle out front to see who would give me the shot to deaden half my face. Tracey, the newest Hygienist in the office lost. Perhaps this task fell to her by default because she’s the new kid on the block and there wasn’t a raffle. In all honesty, Lisa asked if I wanted the Doc to give me the shot or if I was OK with someone picked at random. I told her I was OK with the random pick as long as she was pretty. I was pretty confident that it was OK for me to make that request because all the ladies in the office are pretty and they are all qualified. Really, they are. Ask Diane.

I was left alone for a while before Lisa return and went to work installing a ‘rubber dam’ in my mouth. Actually, that’s a small tarp that’s put in place for preparing a tooth for a crown. It’s there to catch all the debris created by the doctor as he grinds the offending tooth down to a little nub. The tarp also ensure the smoke from grinding down the tooth is funneled right up your nose to ensure you get the full effect of what’s happening. There’s nothing quite like the smell of burning ivory.

Once the grinding is done, and the smoke has cleared, the doctor uses a digitizing tool to capture an image of area, where the tooth used to be, which is input into a pretty nifty software tool that helps him create the crown. Once done he sends the results to their blacksmith shop, just around the corner in the next room, where a cutting machine gets to work manufacturing the new tooth that will be glued in place.

I waited a long time for Lisa to return, knowing it wasn’t a speedy process, but when she did it was bad news. She said they had to re-mill the tooth because the first one had a chip in it.

I waited another long time, taking a little nap, then Lisa returned with good news that the second time worked. She handed the new tooth to the doctor who did some preliminary grinding. When he put it in place it was pretty tight but he fixed that by removing it and doing some more grinding. Once he was satisfied he handed the new tooth to Lisa and left. List took the new tooth and put it in the oven, the final step for the tooth before adding glue. It has to be baked in a kiln to make sure it’s hard like a rock and it takes a while to cool down.

Long story short, the crown was glued in place, Lisa cleaned me up, and escorted me to the front desk where I was compelled to fork over my most recent Social Security check for services rendered. I had to do that because I don’t have dental insurance.

Then I went home. In all, I was strapped to The Chair for 3 hours wishing I had my iPad, but it was in the car with a nearly dead battery.

Once home I cooked all the necessary items I wanted for a breakfast burrito. I ate all of it then went outside and painted the front porch.

In a couple of hours I’ll go out and give it another coat and call it a day.

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