Monday, January 01, 2007


If there's one profession I dislike after gynecology, it's dentistry. Actually that's not quite accurate: it's the person who proclaims to have the best interests of our teeth in mind while poking around in the netherworld of cavities, caps, crowns - the big "C's".

It's nothing personal and actually my dentist is a really nice guy - away from the drill. He's got a great sense of humor and loves trying out the latest jokes while drilling away at the bad cavaties. To his credit he's very fussy about cleanliness when dealing with mouths and even dispenses plastic goggles for patients to wear to prevent splashing.

It's my belief that dentists as a whole have a special feel for languages having an ear for the well known dialect known commonly as "spit-ish" spoken by patients with wads of cotton in their cheeks, instruments of torture attached to their teeth and a tube sucking up saliva on the sides of their mouths.

The very first visit to my dentist was to have root canal work on a lower tooth that was giving me a lot of pain."

Is it gonna hurt?" I recall asking him, looking straight into his eyes to gauge the level of pain involved.

"It won't hurt me," he responded with a chuckle. Such senses of humor those dentists!

My dentist for one reason or another, enjoys the give and take of conversation while performing a cleaning but especially during a filling.

"So, you see that blankety-blank TV show last night?" he will ask, as the nurse smiles sweetly while holding the suction thingie with one hand and prying my jaw open with the other.

I try and keep up the conversation my tongue darting out like a snake beneath the torture instrument attached to my teeth. There are a lot of "tth"-ing and "wa-ing" responses and that he always understands every word I say is truly amazing. Perhaps dentists are required to take a special class in dentistry school that teaches them to understand "patient freeze" talk.

Background music is always played to distract patients from what he's doing but we know. Oh do we know! There is also a mobile hanging from the ceiling in front of my eyes that goes round and round inducing nausea and I want to scream, "will somebody stop that damned mobile from spinning!"

I always make a point of going straight home after dental work since half my mouth is usually frozen. The last time I decided to go grocery shopping after a dental appointment, I met up with an acquaintance and waved from afar and attempted a smile. However only half my mouth worked and a stream of saliva slowly dripped down the corner of my mouth.

This leads me to ask as to why dentists - not all of course but some - tell their patients that there's no pain involved in certain proceedures when there is? The mere act of injecting a gum with novacaine or whatever else they use these days causes pain and then there's the sudden onset of numbness that flows through the gum...and the cheek...and one side of the nose...and eyebrow... Notice how dentists advise patients: "eat on the other side of the mouth until the freezing wears off." Can't speak for others but trying to keep food limited to one side of a frozen mouth is pure hell. Somehow and no matter how much I try and aided by excess saliva, food kind-of slips to the other side and trying to extricate the food with a still-frozen tongue is an exercise in futility and frustration. Soup is the worst, though, because one side of the lip refuses to cooperate. Hot soup is a 'no-no' since there is no way to blow on it to cool it down. A one-sided blow just doesn't do the job. Next week I'm going for my 6-month cleaning. Chances are we'll once again have a discussion regarding the necessity to crown a tooth. I in turn will tell him that I'm not a Queen and I can live without one. That and braces.

No comments: