Monday, June 21, 2004

i had a dentist appointment today. it was supposed to be for a filling, but it worked out a little differently than that.

this was actually the third time i'd scheduled this particular appt. the first time, i arrived at the dentist's office only to be informed that big thunderstorms the previous night had knocked out their computer network, so that while they theoretically could have done the dental work, they couldn't have done any of the ancillary administrative work related to that (scheduling, billing, etc). so i went on to work, & after their network was back i got a call to set up a new appt, which i did. then a few days later i got another call from the receptionist, telling me that when she'd made the previous appt she hadn't realized i would need 90 minutes for a bunch of filling work. so then we set up another appt, the one i just returned from.

my dentists are young; a couple years ago they took over the practice of an old retiring dentist who had been our family dentist since childhood. the old dr had a great receptionist, but she left when he retired. so in a way the quality of service has gone down, but then again the new drs have brought in lots of new tech. there are now tv sets in the rooms for patients to watch (today i watched catch 22 on a&e [when i could see the screen, that is]). & they have fancy new dentist toys, including a camera they can use to project close-ups of the inside of your mouth onto the tv in your room. that's pretty swank, i must say.

there are a couple "trouble spots" in my mouth that the dentist has been watching closely for awhile. the one that still hadn't been taken care of was an old metal filling from my childhood days back when i never brushed & would get cavities regularly. the area around this old chestnut had started to decay again, so back when we originally tried to schedule this appt, the dr told me he wanted to "get in there & look around; hopefully it'll just be a filling & we won't need a crown."

so i arrived today & we began the numbing process while i watched catch 22 (i actually spotted it for orson welles, who i hadn't remembered was even in that movie). once they were ready to start working they took this big rubber sheet sort of like a balloon & put it against my mouth to protect the teeth they weren't working on. this was a new twist for me. then they threaded dental floss through it in order to somehow fit it into place (i couldn't really see what they were doing from my vantage point, & they don't have the camera running the whole time... they only use that for emphasis).

turns out i'm difficult to numb, because even when i am fairly numb & have all the right symptoms, i can still feel a smidge of pain when the drill digs into me. he ended up pumping me with juice several more times over the course of the procedure, & even then it wasn't 100% effective. maybe next time i should ask if they can give me gas too.

anyway, not long after he started working he asked cryptically whether i had done anything to that tooth recently to damage it. not a good sign. this is when he busted out the camera, to show me several cracks in the tooth. enough cracks that if he tried to repair it all with a filling, there would be hardly any tooth left. if you've been paying attention by this point, you will deduce that he told me i need a crown.

but because (he told me) that he doesn't believe in the old bait & switch, he didn't just go ahead & put in a temporary crown. no, this appt was scheduled to be for a filling so he did filling work. so he dug out some of the metal, added some enamel in a few places, & gave me a "sed filling" (whatever that is; i could've sworn he said "sedentary filling" but google gives me nothing there... & i can't remember the name of the material used either).

anyway i get to go back july 19 to get a temporary crown installed. then 3 weeks after that i get to return for my new custom-fitted crown. yippee.

when i got home i said to my sister that i had inherited my father's teeth. dad's had a few problems with teeth breaking and losing fillings and needing crowns. i wonder how much more of this i have to look forward to... maybe i'll be lucky & i won't need any more crowns for many many years.

okay, by now my numbness has gone down enough to possibly eat some dinner (i'm starving), but of course now my jaw hurts. lovely. aspirin & enchiladas for din-din tonight.

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