Posted by: canthold | September 18, 2006

Drilling and Filling

My giant tongue is taking up too much space in my mouth. I can barely clamp my teeth down, but don’t even try because I don’t want to bite my cheek. As my dentist said, it would be a vicious mistake to do so.

I remember a particularly good visit to the dentist when I was in the eighth grade. The hygienist taught me to move the tooth brush in little circles and gave me the whole flossing lecture, to which we’re all familiar. I didn’t have any cavities that time and somehow managed to make it into my thirties with that circular technique as my protection against drills.

I became an avid flosser, too. I discovered Glide and, with the help of an annual New Year’s resolution, flossed daily through my twenties. Funny thing, though, I never managed to get out of the flossing lecture. Maybe there is a law that that they have to give it to everyone.

Visits to the dentist have always been so enjoyable. I received so many complements about how great my teeth were that I used to think of my appointments as feel good sessions.

Then I had kids.

There were days on end that a shower was as big a luxury as getting a limo ride to the bus stop. The pony tail was the only grooming I did and brushing my teeth became something that I had to remember, rather than the of course habit that it is with everyone else.

This might sound a little gross to everyone except the infamous Pete, a man whom I dated only briefly due to his belief that Americans are too obsessed with hygiene. But any sleep deprived new mom can relate to the-world-is-upside-down feelings that a newborn brings.

The tooth brushing and showers became regular parts of my routine again, but I was never the same. I finally deserved the floss lectures and pregnancy saps the calcium out of our teeth, making them susceptible to cavities – or so I’ve heard.

And today’s visit to the dentist was not one of the feel good sessions of the past. Today I had two cavities filled.

My pre-visit anxiety couldn’t have been higher. It might have been a good idea to skip the coffee this morning, but I didn’t want to give up the joy or the jolt. I laid back in the chair and tried to be calm, but it didn’t work very well. It didn’t help that ol’ DDS tried to give me the Novocaine shots without the numbing swab first. I didn’t let him get away with that. After several shots, and some waiting, he started work. He drilled and drilled some more before I had to stop him because the shots weren’t working the way they were supposed to. More shots. Fortunately, the previous shots helped numb the subsequent shots.

I tried visualization to take my mind off the procedure, but the drilling filled my head with vibrations and noise that could not be ignored. The tension in my body worked my muscles more than running a 10K.

Then the bad news…

“It’s much deeper than I suspected.” I would have cringed but my body was already there.

The actual filling part wasn’t so bad. I endured the entire experience with my eyes shut only to open them to find what looked like a screwdriver in my mouth. That certainly didn’t belong in there and I grumbled something.

“What is it?” He asks.
“That’s what I want to know!” I grumbled back – incoherently.

It turned out to be some sort of light to help set the filling material. I really didn’t care what it was as long as it wasn’t a screwdriver.

As the Novocaine wears off – five hours later, mind you – the jackhammer that filled my head fades from my mind as I shove the possibility of a root canal to the deep recesses of the memory of my cavity.

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