Friday, May 22, 2009


I went to the dentist today. For a number of years I've been able to successfully avoid it. Having no dental insurance is always a good excuse. But then I noticed a tiny little spot on the top of my tooth at the gum line. Vigorously brushing did nothing to remove it, ditto with ignoring it. A few days ago, I started to feel tenderness when brushing my teeth. No other soreness, no sensitivity to cold or warm water, just an annoying little twinge. Luckily, my dental plan started in January after my "new" job so I made the dreaded appointment.

Seriously, I dread going to the dentist. I know everyone does, but I claim special despising status based on all the work I've had done to my mouth and some of the unexpected aftermath. When I was 9, I had to have a spacer installed. This was a very archaic device that was glued to probably four of my teeth and covered the roof of my mouth. It came with a little key that my mom had to insert into the piece on the roof of my mouth and she would turn it nightly for about six months. The purpose was to stretch my mouth because it wasn't big enough to accommodate all of my teeth. Contrary to what some people might think, my mouth still isn't that big. When it was removed, it pulled out two of my teeth. The two that weren't ready to come out yet. With no pain relief. "Ha ha, thought we were going to lose her there a few times" is what the asinine dentist said.

When I was 14, I had to have two teeth pulled, this time on purpose. It's scary and gross but not really that big of a deal. Not unless they drug you based on your age instead of your weight and you are probably in the 10th percentile of weight compared to everyone else your age. This results in a drug overdose. One in which you are not able to wake up on your own but require more drugs that have an opposite effect to wake you up. Then when you do wake up you don't know what you're saying, but everyone in the room who is supposed to be a professional dental person is laughing at you. Kind of like when college kids get a dog drunk at a party and laugh at it while it runs in circles until it falls down because the poor creature has no idea why it feels the way it does. Then you get in the car to go home and sob uncontrollably for no apparent reason while your five-year-old sister asks why you're acting crazy and when you will stop. The upside to this is that you will most likely never be tempted to try drugs. Just say no.

As an adult, after having worn braces for almost three years, including the headgear contraption that was worn at night (only at night, thank god) and the tiny little rubber bands that went on little hooks and kept me from opening my mouth much at all (and snapped back on me innumerable times), I decided I would have no more oral surgery ever. For a few years my dentist kept recommending that I have my wisdom teeth removed. Nope. No thank you. Can't make me. Nanny, nanny boo-boo.

Until one day I noticed my teeth shifting. My front teeth on top. I could bite my hand and examine the impression left behind. It was crooked. The reason? My wisdom teeth had no room and as they crowded in, they were moving all of my other teeth around. Damn them. I did not go through all that work to have crooked teeth. I agreed to have them removed. By my dentist. Because he said he could put me under and it would be easy. He lied.

First, he did not put me under. Being awake with laughing gas is not the same as being put under. I don't care if it smells like pina coladas, it doesn't feel the same. I can smell a pina colada-scented candle all day long and not get a buzz. Same difference as the gas. (And this was before I became the big drinker I am now.) Secondly, he was a moron and injected the side of my face instead of my gum. I knew something was wrong when he said "Hmmm. Huh. Any history of blood disease in your family? Yeah. Hmmm... that doesn't look good." These are not words one wants to hear from their dentist after they have had a giant needle inserted into their mouth. Had I been knocked out, I wouldn't have had to hear them. But I was only given the nitrous crap so whatever teeny, tiny small little buzz I might have had immediately disappeared. I was sent home, teeth intact, with a cold press.

I ended up with a huge bruise on my face. Huge. Bruise. On my face. My FACE for Christ's sake! It's not that I'm so incredibly vain. It's just that it was so completely unavoidable. I couldn't hide it and it was there for a week or more. I had to go places still. I had scheduled play dates for my one year old daughter. I got looks from people. No, these were Looks. As in "You poor woman, I hope the bastard that did that to you rots in jail." Or worse, "You stupid woman. Do you let him hit your baby too?" At a play date, I was actually asked if I was allowed to be out of my house. Saying "My dentist did it" is roughly the equivalent of "My dog ate my homework." Nobody believed me.

After that little fiasco, I decided an oral surgeon might be better qualified to extract teeth from my mouth. I made an appointment with Dr. Shock. That is his name, I am not kidding you. Don't judge him for it either. He's really not an evil, sadistic ogre working out of a laboratory in some creepy castle tower. In truth, he's quite lovely. When discussing how the procedure would go, he gave me options for pain relief. He said the first level was like drinking one martini. Level two was two martinis, level three was three martinis. I ordered three martinis. See? Lovely. He even spoke my language. I went home coherent, with some lovely pain pills and virtually no swelling. Zero bruises.

The last dental experience is really why I've stayed away so long. I didn't like my dentist. I no longer trusted him. However, as long as I had insurance and was only getting my teeth cleaned, I went. I liked my hygienist. It was just the other guy I wanted to break up with. Making the appointment this week, I had to choose another dentist who would be covered under my plan. As in, "It's not you, it's my insurance."

When I walked into the new place this morning, the smell reminded me of a winery. It was a little jarring, but also comforting. I thought at first that if it smelled that way because they were actually drinking, we might have a problem. Unless they shared with me. I figured that would be okay. It's not like getting three martinis, but a glass or two of wine is nothing to be laughed at.

I wasn't too impressed with the technician who did my x-rays. She's probably not someone who handles her alcohol well. She certainly didn't handle the x-ray card thingies well. My mouth is not that big and they were cutting into my gums every time she stuffed one in and I had to bite down on them. Not cool. One martini or one glass of wine would have helped the situation. You know, I really think I'm onto something here. Spas give you wine, why not your dentist?

Dr. Andy was more pleasant. He poked around a little bit, finally declaring there was "nothing much going on in there." Not what I'd want to hear if someone was referring to a party I was throwing, or maybe my lack of a social life or even my mental state. But with my mouth, I'm fine with it. Nothing much should be going on in there. As in no cavities. No cavities is a good thing. (Yes, I hear you snickering. Grow up.) So why the sore tooth? Here is the bad news. Apparently the gums can start to recede as one grows older and that is what is happening to me. My gum line has started to recede right above my tooth, exposing the root and that is what is causing the tenderness. My root is showing. (Hmmm.. doesn't sound quite as dirty as having a party in my mouth, does it?) I'm going back to have it filled in a few weeks and, until then, I have been given sensitive formula toothpaste.

All in all? Good news - no cavity. Bad news - I'm getting older. Good news - I didn't have to pay anything to be told I'm getting older.

In semi-related news, my therapist let me know that she has diagnosed me with a mild case of adjustment disorder, making it sound like it's nothing more serious than the common cold. Obviously I haven't yet vomited out my entire dental history to her or let her in on how alcohol could benefit my experience at the dentist. It would probably help in her practice too, come to think of it. I'd certainly tell her more things, maybe more than she wants to know. At this point she still thinks I'm normal and not neurotic. That's okay, my deductible is stupidly high and I can't really afford for her to know how crazy I actually am. I'd rather put my resources into vodka.


The Martini Chronicles. Design by Exotic Mommie. Illustraion By DaPino