I went to the dentist today, the third time in a month. In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably mention we haven’t been able to afford dental care for 6 years. That’s right. We’ve never been since we moved to Shelton. I did a lot of praying during that time. It just wasn’t in the budget.
I’m not proud of that. But I am exceptionally grateful to be able to go now. The kids did great. Their teeth cleaned up fine and neither had any cavities. Wonderful and amazing, since getting fillings costs, extra, too. Ruby watched the mandatory teeth cleaning video in rapt wonder. She wanted to see it again when it ended! The only prohibitive part was the out-of-pocket cost. A deep cleaning for my husband and myself cost a couple hundred dollars – each. That’s with insurance. And then, fillings on top of that.
I drove to the dentist again today for hopefully the last time before I get on a regular cleaning schedule. The sky poured down rain. The wind gusted 30-40 mph. Leaves, like two-dimensional birds, flew through the air. I hydroplaned down the highway, shooting up plumes of water as I hit low spots and grooves. I prayed to make it in one piece.
I don’t mind the hygienist scraping my teeth. I don’t even mind the drill or the odor of cut-up dentin which once was a tooth. What I mind is the shots. I had to get a shot in my left check last time and both cheeks this time. We’re talking the inside of my mouth, for clarification purposes.
My dentist, a nice woman overall, is rather brusque. She is an East Indian woman in her mid 30s, I’d wager, intelligent but lacking a certain chairside manner. She is above all efficient, doing 3 cavities in an hour – probably more, if pressed. As she plowed the syringe into my cheek, I tried not to wince. The right side was sufficiently numb and the syringe was barely in view, from my angle. The left side was a different story.
This time, the hygienist, different gal from last time, numbed inside my mouth with long wooden q-tips dipped in a mysterious pink substance. And then the needle. I could see it. The whole syringe, at least a foot long, filled with some yellow liquid. Dr. Jekyll shoved it into my cheek, saying, “You might feel a pinch.”
And I almost passed out. Again.
Last time when this happened, they raised my chair and asked me what I felt like. It seemed I was a bit of a novelty. I said it felt like all the blood drained out of my body. My hands and feet were numb and I felt kinda light-headed. I was very close to fainting, my heretofore unknown Victorian side peeking out. I didn’t tell them that, of course. I already felt like a dumb girl faking theatrics to get attention.
This time was the same, only I sat up on my own. They had me lie down and raised my feet above my heart, to get the blood circulating correctly. They asked if I had eaten breakfast. Yes. I always do.
“I think it was the music”, I said, referring to the mix of 70s, 80s and God-knows-what-else was piped into the office as soothing entertainment for people to relax enough to let perfect strangers put their hands in your mouth.
My dentist immediately agreed with me. Then she said she had two babies so she was used to tuning noise out.
After a minute or so, I was alright. They told me I could raise my hand at any time to get them to stop. Hey, how about *now*?!
Efficiently and effectively, they filled the remaining holes in my head: five cavities in 2 weeks. But my mouth was numb to the jaw line on the left side.
Yet, as I type this, I have no pain. The numbness has faded. I am reminded again of the importance of good oral hygiene, trained professionals and a sense of humor. I plan on keeping my original teeth for a long, long time. Could somebody reinstate the treasure box, with an updated version for adults? And just step away from the syringe. Please.