Thursday, July 24, 2008
Two-Thirty, Time for Dentist, Tooth Hurty
Today I had my third dental appointment in just over a month. I had a crown and two fillings, the first of what I'm sure will be many happy insertions in my oral biography.
First, the OK-looking dental assistant swabs the left side of my mouth out with a numbing gel that's supposed to be strawberry-flavored. The end result is somewhere south of Halls Wild Cherry Cough Drops, but not quite as foul as Nyquil.
I'm left to read an old National Geographic in the office (and if my writing teacher from last semester is reading this, he will surely get the literary reference) as I slowly begin to lose the feeling in my gums. There's an article about commercial products inspired by naturally occurring phenomena like the bristled foot-pads of geckos and the drag-reducing texture of shark skin. And yes, the article belabors the hell out of the whole cocklebur-velcro story.
The OK-looking assistant comes back with My Dentist in tow. Now it's time for novocaine. Supposedly by now, my mouth is supposed to be unable to feel anything, but when the needle pierces the inside of my cheek, I feel it sink deep into my jaw, into fleshy recesses I didn't know existed until they were penetrated by this stainless conquistador. The hypodermic Cortés strikes a nerve, sending a jolt of flicking stingers all the way up through my lips.
Properly anesthetized, it's time to take out my temporary, plastic crown, seated on my rearmost molar, and replace it with a permanent, porcelain one. My Dentist mercilessly thrusts in and yanks out the new crown, stopping at short intervals to file away bits of doll-face replacement tooth until it fits. When she is satisfied, she squirts some kind of godawful fluid that tastes something like salty poop, which will "make the area achy for awhile but will really help me out in the long run". It hurts. The assistant then begins brutally flossing the area "to get rid of excess adhesive", and the nylon filament comes out covered in blood. "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith is playing over the intercom. I am comforted by this, because it means that Stephen Tyler and Company have now been relegated to the dreaded queue of "muzak". In any case, the overhead observation light I've been staring into throughout the exam begins to resemble a bottom view of the firing thrusters of some asteroid-killing space rocket carrying no fewer than five famous actors.
Not skipping a beat, My Dentist begins digging holes in two of my other teeth, noting that her wild drillstrokes are shredding the fuck out of my gums, so those'll probably be sore for awhile, too. Switching randomly between the two teeth with that fucking drill, I feel as though My Dentist is having a really bad game of "Operation". It's not water on the knee, butterflies in the stomach, or a charley horse, goddammit. Every time that diamond-tipped bit sinks into my teef, it's like someone's running a live wire down into my jaw and shocking the shit out of it. Now my mouth is like an unevenly moist, bloody salty poopy cesspool.
My Dentist begins filling in the strip mines she's made of my bicuspid and first molar, telling me that the filler "smells bad, sorry".
"Well, at least it tastes great," I think. The filling filler smells like burnt garlic-rubber. My Dentist is no liar. Then a little more drilling and picking to smooth things out.
Then, suddenly, we're finished. My mouth is still wide open, and My Dentist begins tilting my chair up. The OK-looking assistant asks if I'd like a mouth-rinse, and although I'm thoroughly enjoying having an unwashed, sweaty orgy in my mouth, I nod my head obligingly. Then I'm expected to get up and leave the office. I feel like I'm missing something. I'm stumbling around in the lobby and then out to the parking lot, but nothing happens. I feel oddly used after this relatively short but excruciating appointment, but not necessarily upset. It's as if I've been taken advantage of by someone I sort of like anyway, you know? I don't know what, if anything, I could have expected. It's not like I have a fuck-on-the-third-date rule.