Adventures in Dentistry

Yesterday, yes on Memorial Day, my tooth broke. No, it did not break on a freakishly charred hamburger or hot dog from the barbecue. No, we weren’t camping in Saskatchewan or anything and I didn’t have to paddle out sixteen miles while blood oozed out of my mouth, but it still sucked that it broke on a holiday. Why does shit only happen on weekends and holidays? Why can’t shit happen when you can call someone to fix it right now?

And you might wonder why that tooth broke. What the hell? How can a tooth break from out of nowhere?

No, it’s not a story like that. I knew that my tooth was going to break. I did. I’ve known it was going to break for the past fifteen years. I just didn’t know when.

My tooth started hurting when my dentist at the time replaced the filling because the old one was ugly. She then proceeded to grind down the perfectly good molar above it as if it were the offender. That pissed me off because the molar on top instantly became this ugly little nub of a tooth that my tongue didn’t like and has been a distraction ever since.

I changed dentists then. Plus, the woman died, God rest her soul, so I can’t go back to her and complain that my tooth broke because she replaced the filling badly. The statute of limitations has passed on that one. Her soul is probably in one of Dante’s agonies right now since her all-knowing has widened her understanding, on a molecular level, just exactly what she did wrong with my tooth fifteen years ago and how she could have avoided turning the upper molar into an annoying little nub in the process. Hey, Ms. Dentist. I know you didn’t do any of it on purpose, so let it go, okay? You can go back to enjoying your blue heaven.

The person I’m angry at, a live dentist, is the one I’ve been seeing, not in a dating way, just cleanings and fillings and junk, since then. This guy kept telling me that I should save money by putting off any work on that tooth.

Every single cleaning in the last fifteen years, I’ve mentioned this tooth to him and every single time, he had me bite down on a wad of cotton. Pain. Yes, oh my freaking God, that’s the one pain. And he kept saying I should hold off for a while. Why?

Because of that, I’ve been thinking of changing dentists for the past two years. The catch is that he’s a local dentist and I see him walking through when I shop at the market and when I pick books up at the library. There are some problems with living in a small town, I tell you.

Finally, six months ago, he said I should see a root canal specialist. He didn’t even do them any more. ‘Well, what do you do?’ I wanted to ask. Right. You have people bite down on wads of cotton to try to identify what you identified, without a doubt, six months ago was pain, sharp, screaming pain, on that last molar on the bottom.

What did I do when he gave me the referral?

I lived with it.

I decided I couldn’t stand the idea of this man attempting a crown and I lived with it for another six months while I tried to come up with the courage to change dentists. A month ago, at my regular cleaning, he gave me another referral, being a little more certain that the tears that popped into my eyes when I bit down on the little wad of cotton meant that there was, indeed, a problem with that last molar …. well, maybe the next to last molar even though I could chomp that wad of cotton with the next to last molar like a champ.

So, I called his root canal specialist and made an appointment. I even told this guy that I was traveling in two months and wanted to make sure that I wasn’t eating a fresh pain au chocolat at a sidewalk cafe in France on a Sunday morning only to have that tooth break on me.

His advice?

“Let’s make an appointment for a month after you get back. It’s been this long. You should be okay for another three months.”

Yeah, thanks for that. Thanks, really.

Now I have eleven days to get a root canal and a new cap on that tooth before I get on a plane to go to France. And I am getting a new freaking dentist!

Thank you for listening, jules


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