DIY Dentistry

Last night, my boss told me that my blog was too wordy; I needed an editor. Maybe he meant to say, “RB, I have so fun much editing you in the company blog that I would love to edit your personal blog as well,” but the truth is: I overwrite.

Unfortunately, I have been working on this blog entry about my last trip to the NYU Dental clinic and it is long. I have decided to publish it as one last hurrah before I start writing exclusively in Haiku.

Two nights before I left for SF, I got to have one last cavity filled.
As usual, while administering the shot, my dentist coached me, “you’re doing great.” Then we waited for me lose feeling in mouth. But I didn’t.
“Let’s just wait another 30 seconds,” he suggested.
“You remember what happened last time?”
He poked my chin. “Still have feeling?”
“Yes. I really think it didn’t work. It’s ok, but based on my history…”
“Ok. Ok.”
When my dentist came back he explained to the supervisor that I wasn’t numb yet.
“So wait longer.”
“No!” I insisted. “This happened last time. My lip isn’t numb and neither is my tongue. Then he starts drilling an eventually it hurts.”
“Your tongue doesn’t matter.” He turned to my dentist. “So what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know, that’s the problem.”
“Yes you do!” I interjected. “I have an atypical mouth, so you have to feel around with your finger for the nerve because it’s not in the right spot. Then you close my mouth half way and do the shot.”
The supervisor screeched a laugh. “Alright.” He grabbed the needle and gave a test squirt over my face, semi-apologizing, “This is just how it is.”
“Remember,” my student-dentist pleaded, “I know this is hard—I know how you feel!”
Meanwhile it took only a few seconds for me to realize that instead of feeling around with his finger, the supervisor was going to search for my nerve with the needle embedded in my inner cheek. “Stop that, your tongue is my way!” he instructed, then muttered, “I don’t know what’s going on here. I’m in there, but I can’t seem to hit the bone.”
“I hit the bone!” claimed my dentist.
“Obviously not, or she would be numb right now.”
“Well, I hit it.”
His supervisor continued talking to himself, “it’s gotta be in here somewhere.”
He pulled the needle out and looked at it. “I think we need a wider diameter.”
“Excuse me?”
“I think this needle is too thin, so it keeps bending when I inject her and I can’t find the nerve. Do we have wider diameter needles at the clinic?”
My dentist was bewildered. “uh, I’m not sure I’ve heard of that, but I can check.”
“Nevermind.” The supervisor resumed his search.
“Aha!” He’d obviously hit it. “The problem is, she’s curved!” He withdrew the needle from my mouth and leaned in towards my face. “See? All you have to do is think positive!”
He left, and then the drilling began, as did a strange noise that sounded a car running out of gas. “So, this drill is kind of busted,” my dentist explained. “But I think I can finish, and I don’t want to waste time looking for a new one.” My heart sunk, as did the roof of my mouth.
“Hey, can you open your mouth up a little more….yes….great….good! You wouldn’t think it, but for us dentists, there is a big difference between halfway open and fully open.”

Finally, the supervisor came over to check his work. “What tooth?”
“18 is getting fixed, and 19 is getting drilled!” I blurted out. The supervisor cackled and turned on the drill. It sputtered.
“This thing is broken, go get a new one.”
When he returned with a the new drill and handed it over, my dentist cooed at me, “There you go…good job…you’re ok!”
“Ok, fine.” The supervisor put down the drill and walked away.
“Great news!” my dentist chirped. “We’re ready to fill! You’re still doing great.” At what? Collecting saliva and sequestering my tongue on one side of my mouth?
“You should really be a pediatric dentist.”
“A what?”
“A pediatric dentist.”
“Wait, what?”
“A dentist that works on children!”
“Oh, yeah, that’s what I’m doing all day tomorrow!” He went to work.
At the end, when the supervisor came over to check out my teeth, he took one peak and said, “What the hell is that?”
“Is what?”
“You realize there’s a big chunk missing from the filling you did last week. You didn’t seen that?”
“I mean look at it.”
He looked. “Ok, but I don’t have time to fix it now.” He patted my shoulder again. “The good news is, nothing is exposed and nothing is infected. But if you want your next dentist to fix it, he can.”
“You know,” interjected the supervisor, “we know the person who runs the dental school clinic in San Francisco, we can put you in touch.”
“I doubt she wants to go to anymore dental clinics.”
“Are you kidding?” I stood up from the chair onto shaky legs. “I love dental clinics! This is the most fun I’ve had all year. Granted, it’s been a pretty bad year, but it’s still been a lot of fun.”
My dentist got huffy. “Well, you know we’re students. And that’s why it takes longer. I mean, what do you expect?”
“Listen, I told you that you were the most fun I’ve had all year. Even if it was a bad year that’s still a compliment. You’re a dentist. People don’t like dentists.”
As I was paying, he came back one last time to try and explain how I would get my records mailed to me. “So, it’s 25 dollars for the treatment plan and x-rays. Oh…wait…oh no.”
“It’s seventy-five cents a page for treatment notes. Do you want those?”
“Should I want those?”
“I don’t know…but they cost extra.”
“But, who care? If need them.”
“I just don’t know.” He looked genuinely alarmed.
“Ok, ok. Let’s calm down.” He looked up from his papers. “75 cents is not a lot of money. If I need them, I will get them. It’s going to be ok.”
“You can call tomorrow and find out.”
“Great! I will call, and everything will be ok. There is nothing to worry about right now.”
“I’m just really confused.” He looked at the papers again.
“It’s ok. Everything is fine. Thank you for all your hard work, and best of luck in your career.”
“Ok!” We shook hands, and I started to bolt for the door.
“Call me if you need anything!”
“Oh, you know I will!” I shouted over my shoulder, and finally, I was gone.


2 thoughts on “DIY Dentistry

  1. I would have been shaking like a leaf by the time I left there. The scary part is the dude is working on kids the next day. Oh hell, they'll be marked for life and terrified of dentist.

    They would have had fun with me. I'm paradoxical. Medications have a tendency to have the oppisite effect on me. Novacaine usually doens't work at all. (Hugs)Indigo


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