I've honestly never minded going to the dentist, probably because I have a high tolerance for pain. Two natural childbirths within sixteen months with one shot of Demerol between them proved that.
Twice a year I visit the periodontist who put in my implants. I've never minded those appointments, either. The implants were nothing compared to a root canal I had once.
"Open, please," Stacy, the hygienist, said during my last visit.
I did as I was told. She began poking and prodding with the metal hook, but I was used to her touch. I wasn't worried.
With each poke she made a notation about the amount my gums had receded. Fortunately, they hadn't gone very far.
"Your implants look really good and I'm sure you floss regularly," she said. "There are no cavities so far."
I didn't respond. I just sat there with my mouth open until she finished my uppers and downers.
A whining began behind my left ear. "Open again, please."
Stacy adjusted the lamp to hit the back right portion of my teeth. She brought a shiny metal arm toward my mouth. It didn't look like a drill.
Oh lord, what's that? my eyebrows asked her, furrowing together in dread.
"This is a new laser cleaning system," she said, reading my thought. "Just relax. It's pretty gentle." She guided the whining metal claw into my mouth.
"Yikes, that hurt," I gurgled while the tube in my mouth continued its sucking sound. There was nothing gentle about zapping a nerve!
Stacy drew the shiny claw backward. I counted to five before she approached my right wisdom teeth again.
What had I done to deserve this? Couldn't she just scrape the plaque off like she'd always done? One more shot to the nerve and I'd be out of this chair!
That did it!! I sat upright, pulling at the "J" tube that dribbled water down my bib. "Stacy, you're going to have to scrape the plaque like you used to."
"Well, most of my patients can tolerate this new cleaning system, but for those who can't, I'm happy to scrape."
Was something wrong with this picture? I was actually going to be happy to have my teeth scraped with a thin crochet hook! I opened my mouth before Stacy even asked.
I held it open for twenty minutes and after the scraping I held it open while the rotating brush deposited its gummy brightening paste. When we were done, there was just one problem.
I couldn't close my mouth. My jaw had locked. And it was painful. I think I would have preferred the pain from the claw.
Dr. Pechter massaged my jaw until it unlocked. Six months later I was diagnosed with TMJ - Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. My instructions were to open my mouth only partway, eat soft foods, and do jaw exercises. Oh yes, and close my mouth every five minutes in the dentist's chair to give my jaw a rest. Charley thought that last one was a good idea for home, too.
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.