Dental Drama

What a week!  And it’s only Tuesday. And it’s still January!  Seriously?!  Good, bloody grief!

I am not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed because I have had to go to the dentist.  Twice.  Exactly a month to the day.  For the same thing. It’s not Dr Diamond Sock’s fault, because the problem is the result of another dentist who broke off my wisdom tooth, leaving the root in my jaw.  This was twelve years ago. So now, at 40, I must get my jaw cut into and have the offending root-remainder removed.  This will happen on Tuesday, after I’ve finished the suppository-sized penicillin tablets, probiotics and antibacterial mouthwash.

The thing is, I’m shit scared of the dentist.  I have been ever since my first visit to the state dentist in 1986.  I remember climbing what felt like a thousand steps and being told to sit on a cold wooden bench in the corridor until Doctor was ready to see me.  Every time another child sat on the bench I would get up and sit on the far end as if delaying the inevitable was going to help.

The dentist reminded me of the President at the time, PW Botha.  Both were paunchy, bald men with square, wire rimmed spectacles.  The dentist sounded like the Groot Krokodil too.  Sit here, he said in a thick Afrikaner accent.  All I remember from that day is begging The Bean (who at that time was Mommy) not to make me go back. 

The next time I had to visit the dentist was in fifth grade when my front tooth got knocked out by a over-zealous hockey opponent.  There was blood everywhere and I ended up at Dr. Bruce who refitted it.  It’s still squarely in place, although slightly discoloured. 

Decades passed. I went to the dentist again when I was twenty-six.  Tired of having skew teeth and being called things like horse-face and cliffhanger, I decided to get braces.  Little did I know I’d have to have four teeth removed to make space for my teeth.  Oh. My. Gosh!  It was one of the most awful experiences of my life.  Ironically, it happened in the same surgery I visited today, but that dentist is retired now, I think.  I begged Elizabeth to go with me for moral support and she sat through the whole, tearful, bloody ordeal.

Fitting my braces wasn’t bad, although as time wore on and adjustments had to be done, there were times when I asked myself if anyone really noticed my teeth as much as I noticed theirs.  It’s strange – I often gravitate towards people that have straight teeth (not necessarily toothpaste-ad smiles).  The few serious boyfriends I’ve had, all had nice teeth.  Maybe opposites attract on a subliminally dental level too?

My braces came off in February of 2008 and shortly after I had to have my wisdom teeth removed.  Aside from a Bartholin’s cyst, nothing has ever been as remotely close to painful.  The top two were done one Saturday, and it was a relatively straightforward procedure.  Sure, the cleverness would have preferred to reside in my mouth forever, but it eventually conceded.  The following Saturday the bottom two had to come out.  Well… after multiple, painful injections, I could still feel the work being done but soldiered on.  The bottom left one was stubborn, but it gave out soon enough.  The other one didn’t want to come out and after a great deal of force with the dentist, Dame Silver, almost sitting on top of me, she got it out, but the root broke off.  She explained to me that it happens and hardly ever gives trouble… sorry, you were saying? 

I got home that afternoon, and lay in my bed reading, praying silently for the life to come back, but not so much that I’d feel it.  Suddenly, my room felt like a fridge and I pulled the blanket up.  Still cold.  So, I put on a jersey.  Next thing I remember is wailing like a pig knowing it’s going to a luau.  I was seeing hands coming out of the wall trying to grab me and suck me in.  I was high and it wasn’t cool.  My parents tried to phone the dentist, but her cellphone was off.  Thank goodness our GP was willing to make a house call.  I remember screaming stuff I’m not proud of at him and kicking and screaming like Regan Macneil, without the pea soup.  I swore I’d never go back to the dentist. Ever!

I had to though… a pain so excruciating left me no choice.  Having vowed not to go through another potential exorcism, I basically played Inky, Pinky, Ponkey and settled on a dentist.  He was delightful.  He understood that I was scared and worked gently.  When I needed to go and see him six months later for a mandatory check-up, I was told he’d left the country. Why me, Lord?

Dr. Delightful’s practice was taken over by a man who has had great reviews.  I visited him and was quite impressed at his manner.  He had the chair assistant cover me with a blanket because I was cold and talked me through the whole procedure.  I had to go for a filling afterward and that too went well.  Thank the Pope!  At last I’d found a dentist who got me…

December came and as luck would have it toothache struck again.  I called for an appointment and was told the surgery was closed for the holiday.  F**K!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s how I ended up crossing paths with Dr. Diamond Socks (I decided that will be his nickname when I saw his socks today while he sat next to me, explaining my x-rays).  He helped me out – on a Saturday – in what is the busiest time of the year when our sleepy-hollow-town becomes holiday-maker-metropolis.  He treated me well and gave me medication to ward off the infection, telling me that if it came back, I was to see my regular tooth-checker, Dr Great Reviews immediately.  That was my intention when I called his surgery yesterday, only to be told he’s in hospital.  My imagination-brain leapt to rabies or tetanus, but it turns out he has high blood pressure.  I can imagine working on people’s pearly whites must be stressful. To add insult to injury, he’s already fully booked until November! See what happens when you’re awesome on Google?

Plan B – Doctor Diamond Socks.  He could see me today.  Before midday.  Off I went.  He did the same thing he did in December, along with some extras – and then told me that I’d have to have (my words, not his) open mouth surgery to get the root out.  I’m shitting a blue light because even though I know I won’t feel it, I don’t want to be awake hearing a scalpel cut through the soft inside of my mouth.  My only hope is that he will wear other funky socks to distract me and that I won’t go home possessed. 

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