Woo hoo, lucky me! I got to go to the dentist Tuesday. What a wonderful way to spend a beautiful summer afternoon! Yeah right! Believe me, I can think of a thousand and one things I would have rather been doing than sitting in a dental chair but then taking care of my pearly off-whites is very important, at least that’s what the wife always tells me, and she should know, she was a dental assistant for over thirty years!
Yeah the dentist and I have a relationship that predates the arrival of my first permanent teeth. Not my current dentist mind you, but dentists in general. We’ve been at it a long long time. My first memory of sitting in the dental chair was when I was around four years old. Tooth decay had found its way into a few of my baby teeth and fillings were needed. I remember sitting in that room waiting for the dentist to come in. The room was actually pretty bare with no pictures on the wall except for a larger poster of a tooth which diagrammed all its parts and a really cool Felix the Cat clock whose eyes and tail moved from side to side with each tick of the clock. It was sort of mesmerizing although I doubt I even knew what mesmerizing meant back then, but it did hold my attention until the dentist arrived and the fun began.
I can’t begin to tell you how many dentist visits I had as a child but by the time I was ten I think I had every toy in the toy drawer and then some. Remember the toy drawer? Perhaps your dental office called it the toy chest. After every visit you got to choose a toy from an assortment of fun items it was your reward for being a good little patient. Yeah that was pretty cool. Sometimes I think I ate an abundance of candy just so I could get a cavity and go to the dentist to pick a toy. I remember when picking a toy thinking “next time I’m going to get this or maybe that.” Hey I may not have taken as good of care of my teeth as I should have but at least I had a plan.
Funny really, we come into this crazy world with no teeth, then go through the slobbery process of developing teeth, lose them, get our permanent teeth and begin a life long battle to keep them. Yeah the term ‘permanent teeth’ is a misnomer. teeth are not permanent! I know! We get what 32 teeth in our lifetime, 28 if you have your wisdom teeth pulled out. 28 teeth to care for doesn’t seem like much and should be relatively easy to do but many people including myself seem to have a problem maintaining our teeth. I mean we have to fight against tooth decay, gum disease or possible loss due to accidents.The mouth is a battlefield!
For me it’s a losing battle. I’ve lost so many damn teeth I’m embarrassed to say that I’m down to like nineteen teeth! And I have at least two more that should and will eventually be pulled. Hell before you know it my partial or appliance as it’s called is going to look like those gimmicky dime store, chattering teeth. Of course this latest episode of tooth decay and loss is of my own doing. My dentist sold his practice a couple of years ago and I didn’t particularly care for the new dentist so instead of looking for a new dentist I simply stopped going. Yeah I figured I’d show him. Well my stupid protest cost me several more teeth and a hell of a lot of money! Thank god for insurance or I’d probably be in the poor house by now. As it is, if I had all the money I’ve spent through the years on out of pocket expenses I could probably be driving that classic 64 Porsche I’ve always wanted. Oh well, go figure.
With all my dental experiences I’ve come to enjoy going to the dentist and don’t feel that sense of dread or fear that many people go through. I’m not saying I like having my teeth drilled, filled or pulled, but I certainly don’t mind. I can easily tolerate the sights, sounds smells, and sensations of a dental visit. I am very relaxed in the dental chair and have even been known to fall asleep while being worked on. I know you’re probably thinking how can you fall asleep with all the prodding, pushing, drilling and filling and going on in my mouth? I’m not really sure, but I think it has to do with my attitude. I have absolutely no problem relaxing in the chair. Sometimes I simply slip off to Hawaii, or some other peaceful location. It works for me.
Of course a major factor is the dentist himself or in my case herself. You have to have confidence in your dentist and feel safe in their hands. Although my dentist is young, she is an incredible dentist! She is very talented and quite competent. She has a genuine concern for her patients and is following admirably in her father’s footsteps. She also has a very gentle touch. When she was working on me Tuesday I was thinking about how gentle she is when suddenly the lyrics “She’s well acquainted with the touch of a velvet hand, Like a lizard on a window pane” from the Beatles “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. What that has to do with anything is beyond me, just thought I’d mention it.
Another big plus is her great sense of humor. I like that. Of the many sights sounds and sensations of the dental experience I have never been able to adequately describe the smell of a decayed tooth being drilled. When I told my dentist she immediately said that it smelled liked ‘burnt Doritos’! Burnt Doritos! can you imagine? I will never look at a Dorito the same way again! Yeah my dentist is okay in my book
Last but certainly not least she’s a lefty like me! That definitely puts her a cut above the rest as far as I’m concerned! She’s the first lefty dentist I’ve ever been to! Her operatory is reversed and set up for a lefty and her dental assistant, our cousin Carol, is a lefty as well. Together they make quite a team. I really feel very comfortable in their capable hands. And although I can truly say that going to my dentist is a satisfying experience and the confabulation (nice word huh?) we engage in is entertaining, I hope my visits are only those necessary in maintaining the teeth I still have, not to lose anymore, guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Don’t forget to floss!