Tuesday, June 12, 2007

d-d-d-d-dentist day

It's 10pm on a day that will be forever coloured by that trip to the dentist.

Actually the colouring started before today - last night was a night of fitful sleep and wild, disjointed dreams broken only by the coming of dawn. The morning was busy, but not even shopping allayed the dread anxiety that steadily crept up my spine. I flossed my teeth (twice), performed an energetic Listerine mouthwash or two and declined lunch. Nothing but the freshest of breath here!

Faining nonchalance, I strolled into the dental surgery and set about waiting calmly. Not that my pinched expression gave away my fear or anything. Or the sharp snap of my book closing as I read the same line ten times.

Finally - "Cecily?" Why do dental nurses dress in ridiculous smocks decorated with dancing molars? It is not cool. It is, however, mildly distracting when your mind is working feverishly to produce a good excuse for not visiting a dentist in almost ten years.

Not that the dentist was taken in by any of my excuses. Or the fresh breath. Instead he asked disgustedly why I'd chosen to burden him with ten years worth of dental work in one brief checkup. I think he was joking. In case he wasn't, I begged him to be nice.

In the end he was nice and didn't find too much beneath the fresh breath to complain about. Only two fillings required, one crack that isn't worth fixing at present, no need for a clean as (funnily enough) those pegs were sparkling, and no, I do not have rampant gum disease. I just need to swap to an electric toothbrush. Unfortunately the excessive tooth brushing damage is done and I will always have recessive gums. That's the price you pay for clean teeth I guess.

Oh. the. relief. I almost collapsed at the counter as I made my follow up appointment. In fact I almost cried all over the secretary! Can you believe it? My teeth won't need replacing with dentures in the next year or two! No need for root canals! No excavations of previous fillings to drill out more rot! No ripping out of my wisdom teeth? No rap over the knuckles?!

After all that stress and build up, it was a truly delightful trip to the dentist. One of the best I've ever had.

If this surprises you, you need to know my long history with dentists in order to understand why two fillings is good news. Dentists and me? We go a long way back together, and it isn't pretty. In fact we go back to the dim, dark days of the eighties when, instead of listening to pop music, I was reclining in a dentist's chair...

My first memory of visiting the dentist was as a nine year old visiting the small dental caravan parked in the school grounds of Coonabarabran. There I was convinced the dentist was a Christian. (She said "Thank God for that" after all!) I don't remember what she did to my teeth, but I remember she was less than impressed that I was not allowed to rinse my mouth with brain stunting fluoride alongside the other students each week. I didn't care - they all hated it I was top of the class.

Somewhere around the same time I started being called 'buck tooth beaver'. There were just way too many enormous teeth for my little mouth, so at the age of ten out a few came. At twelve, out came a few more. (Though not enough, according to today's dentist. My mouth is still too crowded)

In true collector style, I kept some of these teeth and stuck them in my journal. In even truer collector style, I kept the journal and tonight was able to dig out the teeth and present you with this prize photo. Note the decay... as I say, I have a long, long history of dental caries and dentists.

From there it has been a down hill slide, with more and more fillings of dizzyingly scary proportions. At the age of 22, as a superbly good looking dentist turned his back, I foolishly let my tongue explore the hole he'd just drilled in my molar. More than half the tooth was gone. Since then I've been beset by visions of toothless gumminess that crept into my dreams and troubled my daytime thoughts.

If you would like to know the pros and cons of needles over gas - I'm your woman. If you need advice on how not to make a fool of yourself in front of dishy dentists - I'm also your woman. (Hint: don't open your numb lips to speak without first wiping away any potential dribble that may run down your chin leaving you mortified) I still wince at the memory of that drilling pain and any kind of suctioning sound sends a chill down my spine. Such is my knowledge and obsession with decaying teeth and dental chairs that in high school I took to writing copious journal entries about them:

With this wealth of dental history behind me, I find myself not even a little surprised at the depths of my terror today. There was great potential for calamity. That it was not calamitous has lifted one giant weight off my shoulders. It's also convinced me that ten years breaks between check ups are not advisable. Though of course, if my teeth are this healthy after ten years, I probably don't need to go for another five...

So the moral of the story is... most of what we face in life is not as bad as we imagine it will be. So stop stressing and live! (And be thankful for the availability of dentists to keep your teeth in shape!)

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At 2:00 am, June 13, 2007, Blogger merrymishaps said...

I'm glad there was nothing major wrong! All that worrying for (almost) nothing :)

I have yet to schedule a second-opinion appointment about my gums, but I have picked out a new practice to call ...

At 10:21 am, June 13, 2007, Blogger Name: Jenny said...

That is an inspirational story. I nearly feel like ringing for my next appointment.
Also noted is that given the revelation of your propensity to write/journal, at great lengths if appearances count, from a young age I now hve a much clearer understanding of your committment to your blog world.

At 1:29 pm, June 13, 2007, Anonymous marmar said...

Well done!! I'm proud of you. Now those dental demons can be laid to rest and you can get back to enjoying life....till next time!
And it was worth keeping your journals all these years...not sure about the old teeth tho.

At 3:02 am, June 14, 2007, Blogger Cherie said...

Oh YAY! So glad that it had a happy ending, Cecily.

I, too, am a thorough brusher who has recently switched to an electric toothbrush. Much better. You'll love it.

I keep my teeth, too, have all my little baby teeth in a tiny metal fuse box with a sliding lid. I suppose the fuse box is worth more - probably an antique by now. Ha!

Great post - happy news.

At 4:17 am, June 14, 2007, Blogger Deanna said...

Congrats, Cecily, on making it through the dental trial! I'm glad with everyone else that it turned out well.

I've hung on to my children's baby teeth, a habit they find odd. Don't know what happened to my own.

May your gums stay happy.

At 2:43 pm, June 14, 2007, Anonymous Leah said...

My oldest son's mouth is very crowded. He has only gotten 2 adult teeth, and the orthodontist (yes, we've already had to see one) says he's a candidate for "serial extraction" - like you had.

Congrats on dragging yourself to the dentist. Glad it went well.

And I love your high school journaling and teeth-collecting. Priceless!

At 10:43 am, June 15, 2007, Anonymous Sandy said...

Thanks for the update. A chuckle on the "pros and cons of needles over gas." You should be proud of yourself!

At 9:46 am, June 17, 2007, Blogger Robyn said...

Well done! I'm glad you had a better time than you'd anticipated. I'm suppressing a shudder about you keeping your teeth and thinking happy thoughts :)


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