I was going to tell you about how I finally got my tooth crowned on Tuesday, and then I thought I would include a disclaimer: “I know you don’t come here to read all my health whinges, but bear with me for one more post and then we’ll talk about something else.” After that I thought that I also always assume you don’t come here to, for example, read reams of ramblings when I get on a theology jag. And then I thought, “Why do you guys come here, anyway?”
So while I’m waiting for you to answer that question, I’m just going to tell you about my tooth after all.
Let’s just say I finally understand why some people don’t like going to the dentist. Don’t get me wrong. I used not to like to go to the dentist as a child, but I wasn’t afraid of it like some people are–or like I was of “getting shots.” (You end up submitting to a lot of seemingly tortuous vaccinations when you’re a small child about to go to a Latin American country.) My dislike of the dentist stemmed from the fact that flouride treatments were long and onerous and horrible-tasting, and I drooled far too much, and it was gross. But even as a person with a pain-phobia, I never feared the dentist–because I never associated the dentist with pain. Plus there was a pay-off. I’ve probably always been at least as approval-seeking as I am pain-phobic, and until 2008, I had never had even a hint of a cavity. Must’ve been the flouride treatments. (Even in 2008, the cavity was so negligible, no painkillers or drilling or any such things were necessary to repair it.) Anyway, ever since those stopped, I almost relished going to the dentist: I would leave with my teeth feeling shiny and new, and with the dentist’s usual quip (“Your teeth look great! We never make any money off of you!”) ringing in my ears.
But then my dentist retired and I simultaneously came under Paul’s insurance for which my dentist was not a preferred provider anyway. And I broke my tooth. And suddenly I had to find another dentist, and they wouldn’t do anything for me until they had done an intake and initial cleaning first.
That was about three weeks ago and I discovered that when you go to a dentist from the time you are eight years old, if you ever have to switch there are certain things you discover you were taking for granted. Such as:
1. Up-to-date x-ray equipment.
2. Having a normal sized mouth. Evidently mine is child-sized, which is weird, because both my smile and my head are kind of big. And yet I never knew how freakishly small my mouth was until about three weeks ago when someone who had never worked on it before tried to put the x-ray slides in between my teeth.
3. A quick but thorough x-ray and cleaning process. Because the hygienist wasn’t used to my tiny mouth and the x-ray equipment was archaic and bulky, it must have taken at least 20 minutes just to do all the x-rays. It was kind of agonising.
4. Not having cavities. Apparently I have another one.
At the beginning of that initial visit, I was so non-plussed about the hygienist’s inability to figure out my quirky mouth that I was writing blogposts in my head in which I ranted about how I was never going back there again, whether they take my Paul’s insurance or not. But by the end of it, my teeth did feel shiny and clean, and even though there was a cavity to worry about, the dentist himself seemed like a decent guy and the hygienist had at last shown herself competent. Plus I had just gone through 20 minutes of x-rays and filled in a ridiculously nitpicky intake form, and I wasn’t ready to do that anywhere new anytime soon, unless I felt like I really wasn’t going to get good care. Which I’ve only ever felt like at dentists’ in the UK. (That might be a subject for another post.)
Now, a month later, I’m practically a regular. Two weeks ago they put a temporary crown on my chipped tooth, and Tuesday, as I said, they did the real thing. In part, I am delighted and impressed. Ever since the first tooth remake in Honduras, that tooth has been capped crookedly, so it’s always stuck out from the other a little. I’m not sure why, when it was redone in my teen years, they didn’t try a little harder to straighten it out, but they never did. Now it’s straight!
Another plus: I don’t believe anyone has ever put an actual crown on this thing before. In any case, I know I’d never had novacaine before this, nor was this ever a two-day process. It isn’t cheap, but I’d like never to have to replace this again, and I think I won’t. Also, the old tooth used to be yellower than my other (already yellow) teeth. This one’s whiter. (I chose it to be, in case I ever, somehow, miraculously, receive a financial donation specifically to whiten my teeth.)
The downside is, like I said: I have a tiny mouth. I think whatever lab made this tooth assumed a normal-sized mouth in spite of a mould having been taken first. So now I have this giant white tooth, dwarfing all the others, in the middle of my head. I guess you could still call me “Snaggle.”