The Tooth Hurts, Part Deux

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My teeth hurt, but not because I continue to avoid the dentist...exactly the opposite. My teeth hurt because I went to the dentist today. I got a cleaning. And boy howdy, was it a CLEANING! I mean, it EARNED those capital letters, people.

Some background: I shamefully admit I haven't been to the dentist in (cough) years. Okay so, not so much full disclosure admission, but plenty of the shamefully part, trust me. Truth is, I CANNOT remember the last time I went to the dentist. It might very well have been 5 years. No, I'm not kidding. I'm trying to remember if I went while having my current car, which I bought just over five years ago. I seriously cannot remember. Shameful.

I don't not go (double negatives are fun) to the dentist because I dislike them or fear them. I'm just the poster-child for procrastination when it comes to calling and making the appointment. Granted, for a year or two after my divorce, I didn't have coverage, or the money to cover not having coverage. But, yeah, it's been a long time.

It's all better now, because I went this like Christ's forgiveness, my slate is clean today. So are my teeth. Well, sorta. The good news is, my teeth were not in bad shape...aside from not going to the dentist out of sheer stupid laziness, I actually do take decent care of my teeth. I'm horrible about flossing (but that only makes me part of a rather large percentage of Americans) but I brush well, often, and with a Cybersonic brush I've had for 4 years.

I recently brought up my friend Christi's bout with a root canal. I gotta tell ya, I was VERY PLEASED to not hear those three syllables mentioned this morning! I mentioned that it's been so long for me, I should have taken a stun gun, like my friend Sam did. I could tell them, "If you hurt me, I'll hurt you back." But I'm not that guy. Or I could have taken a man-eating plant (masochistic dentist reference from Little Shop of Horrors); and discounting that they sorta don't exist, I'd heard from a reliable source that wouldn't be necessary.

But I expected it to hurt and I expected some bad news. Because I've put it off so long and because I drink a lot of iced tea, I knew there was much work to be done. Let me tell you, the hygienist earned her money! Her name was Tyla. She was very attractive. But hearing her chat about her kids and husband made it easier for me to NOT be so attracted to her...once I knew she was not available, I knew I couldn't be thinking about her and spending the whole time in the chair thinking, "Am I going to ask this woman out when she's done hurting me?" So knowing she was married took the pressure off.

The pressure was ON in another way when she cleaned my teeth. She was self described as being both ruthless and anal when it came to getting it all done. I foolishly joked that considering the circumstances, she was anal retentive about oral hygiene. She gave me a courtesy chuckle at least. But really she was extremely nice, pleasantly conversational, caringly concerned when I winced like a wuss, and very thorough. She said, "This may hurt a little," and then what she did didn't hurt. Of course, I ventured into the "You Spoke Too Soon Department" and joked with her saying, "I don't want to challenge you or anything, and I'm not trying to be macho, but that didn't hurt." She said, "Yeah, I haven't gotten to that part yet." Oh. Then came the deep cleaning just at the gum line. Fun fun fun 'til Daddy takes the T-bird away...but not so much.

She knew early on in the process that I would have to come back for a second go. But she did such a stellar job, that I only need a little bit more done on the upper gum line. Of course, that's going to be the real miserable hurting part. Still, it was good news that my teeth were in pretty good shape.

The bad news is, after 5 years of avoiding the dentist, I do have a couple cavities, one that needs a filling. And one filling that I got when I was a young teenager has been cracked right down the middle. Yep, it turns out I grind my teeth. I knew I clenched some times, but wasn't aware that I grinded. The evidence of wear on certain teeth was proof, and they believe the grinding split the filling. So I gotta go back for the fillings, and will get fitted for a night-guard. Joy.

And for some reason, I wasn't very smart about what I ate today. For lunch, I had a very yummy sandwich at the Corner Bakery made on crisp toasted bread with very crisp potato chips. This was immediately after the cleaning. Yes, I keep telling you people I'm an idiot. Why do I have to go proving it all the time? I worked late tonight and took a dinner break...I went to Quiznos and had a bowl of soup...but I had the Sourdough bread bowl and more chips. By this late in the day, my teeth and gums were pretty sore, just like they are now. And I'm going to be up late tonight doing some editing for Altville, so I'll be eating again here at home. I'll try to figure out something soft. I guarantee you I don't have any potato chips in the house.

But don't cry for me, Argentina. I made this bed, I'll lie in it. But when I wake up, I'll have a healthier respect for better oral maintenance and more frequent visits to the dentist especially considering the alternative and particularly considering it could have been much worse.