Monday, May 23, 2005

It's the Wisdom Teeth, Stupid

I just got back from my first visit to the dentist in seven years. Yes, you heard right, seven years. I know, I know.

I blame my early dental experiences for my reluctance to receive regular oral care. My childhood dentist modeled himself on the Laurence Olivier character in Marathon Man ("iss eet SAFE? iss eet SAFE?") and as a result, my dentist thought Novocaine was only for sissies and enemies of the Reich. If he asked me to "spit" and didn't see a little blood in the bowl, he would smack me with a Mr. Toothy doll in frustration and rage.

So, I have always hated going to the dentist, even though I've been assured countless times that they are kinder and gentler now, big cute liddle biddy fuzzy wuzzy teddy bears, and that the days of whirring metal drill bits spraying bloody enamel chips around the room are a thing of the past. Regardless of whether I truly believed this or not, a persistent pain in my upper chompers told me that I'd better go in for a visit unless I wanted even more painful problems down the road.

For those of you who have read my piece on waiting rooms, I didn't even get to spend time in this one. I checked in, and as I was perusing the well-stocked magazine racks they asked me to come sit down in the dreaded curvy chair.

One thing that's changed with my dentist since my last visit is that he's ditched the piped-in 101 Strings music as a patient soother in favor of a huge TV mounted on the wall. This morning, it was tuned to NBC's Today show, so I not only had the soothing presence of Katie Couric to help me calm down (yeah, right), but I also got to sit through an interview with a mom whose daughter was solicited by a pervert on an Internet chat room, and was treated to scenes of destruction from the upcoming War of the Worlds movie. I was calm as a little lamb by this point.

The dental assistant came in and took enough X-rays to make me glow like a lightning bug. The final x-ray was one of those 180 degree jobs where they stand you up, have you bite down on a stick while two probe thingies clamp your cheeks, and then a curved plate makes futuristic whirring and beeping noises as it glides around your head. I was waiting for HAL 9000 to intone, "Hello, Muley. It's been a very long time, hasn't it? We've been a very bad boy, haven't we? Know what we do to bad boys?"

As Kelly Clarkson was baring her midriff and belting it out in Rockefeller Center on the TV, the dentist gave me the bad news. The most pressing problem I had was that one wisdom tooth had broken off and become infected, meaning it needs to come out asap. This is a job for an oral surgeon, he said, especially because when this particular tooth is pulled, it will almost likely leave a gaping hole in the bottom of my nasal cavity. (What?) "We don't want this, because when you sneeze it will come out your mouth."

Does that mean I'd also be able to drink milk and have it come out my nose? Cool!

Two of my other wisdom teeth are gamey and also need to come out, so Muley will be bringing a sleeping bag and change of clothes to the oral surgeon soon and getting three wisdom teeth yanked. Then, after a three week recovery period, I have to go back to the dentist to get nine "tiny" cavities taken care of, followed by another visit after that for a cleaning and assuredly another oral hygiene lecture.

So, how are you spending your summer?

I must do my responsible adult duty and exhort all you boys and girls out there to do as I say and not as I do. Keep brushing, start flossing if you aren't already, and get a dental checkup before the end of the Bush Administration if you don't want big problems. Oh, and if you want a peaceful way to ease into your morning, I suggest buying a 101 Strings album.

Poem for the day:

Some tortures are physical
And some are mental,
But the one that is both
Is dental

--Ogden Nash

1 comment:

Sottish Sophist said...

Holy Catfish! "upper chompers" is the funniest thing i have seen today. I don't know why I find that particularly amusing, but I just thought I'd let you know. By the way, thanks for the warning.