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November 2, 2010 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Evil Dentist

Gross confession:  I haven’t been to the dentist in an embarrassingly long time.  I floss and brush a lot, but I have been very, very bad about cleanings and general maintenance of the grill.  This is bad, because I have thin enamel.  Every dentist I have ever visited has informed me of my poor helping of enamel.  When they were handing out enamel, I got there last.  I was probably distracted, and by the time I got back in the enamel line, all that was left had to be scraped off the bottom of the barrel. 

I need a lot of Novocaine, too.  I would prefer a Novocaine/laughing gas combo, but dentists hardly ever pump out the gas anymore.  It makes me sad.  That is enjoyable stuff.  If we could pump it out into the streets, there would be no more war or taxes.

I made my last dentist appointment carefully, by collecting information from everyone I knew.  Who do YOU go to get your teeth cleaned?  Are they generous with the Novocaine?  Will they laugh at me and roll their eyes when I insist I can still feel my gums?  Are they patient?  Do they avoid dental dams?  I asked these questions and more until a friend recommended Dr. McClanahan*.  The way she described Dr. McClanahan…well, I fell in love.  Not only would I want him to be my dentist forever…I would want him to be my grandpa.

I made my appointment.  I waited two weeks, nervous with anticipation.  I had the jitters, sure…but I had hope!  Denise assured me that Dr. McClanahan was the dentist I had been looking for.  One visit to him would change the way I thought of dentists forever.  The memories of military wisdom tooth extractions, root canals with chainsaws, and near-death experiences from choking on bite blocks would be erased, and new memories of hugs and toothy smiles would be made. Two weeks…finally, the day of my appointment with Grandpa Dr. McClanahan arrived.

I got to the office fifteen minutes early, like a good patient should, to allow for paperwork and insurance processing.  The office was small and tastefully decorated.  The walls were a lovely, earthy shade of brown.  The magazines strewn about the tables were dated within the last six months.  The standard aquarium was present, but the tank was full, algae-free, and the fish looked to be happy and well cared for.  The only strange thing about the office was the cake on the table behind the receptionists desk.  I figured that dentists and oral hygienists enjoyed cake now and then, but never blatantly in front of patients.  I mean, these are the kind of people who hand out toothbrushes on Halloween.  Still, I had confidence.  Denise had spoken so highly of Dr. McClanahan that I was happy to overlook the cake anomaly. 

I handed my completed paperwork to the receptionist.  She looked it over, nodding.  “Oh, one more thing,” she said.  “I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to call you, but we switched your appointment to be with Dr. Murray*.”

SCRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECCCCCCH.

“Um, why?” I asked.

“Dr. McClanahan is retiring,” she informed me.  “Today’s his last day.  He stopped taking appointments at noon.”

I took a closer look at the remains of the cake. 

ULATIONS!!!

PPY RETIREMENT

ANAHAN!

 

Crap.

I took a deep breath.  How bad could Dr. Murray be?  Sure, maybe he wasn’t as Grandpaesque as I had imagined Dr. McClanahan would be, but surely, SURELY he would be just fine.  My teeth needed cleaning, and I had a cavity to fill.  I had already spent some time in the waiting room.  There was no turning back.

Dr. Murray’s assistant walked me back to the cool, antiseptic room and took some X-rays.  She cleaned a bit here, a bit there.  Finally it was time for the filling.  Dr. Murray came to the room.  He was youthful and sharp.   He had great teeth, and very tolerable dentist breath. 

“Alllllllright, let’s have a look-see,” he said, gently moving the chair position.  I felt myself tilting back, and the bright round light above shone into my eyes.  I closed them and opened my mouth.  He placed the mirror in there and started inspecting.

“Oh my,” he said.  “What in the world is this?”  I felt him tapping #15, way in the back.

“Oh, that’s my crown from my root canal,” I told him. 

“I’ve never seen a crown like that,” he said.  “It’s terrible.  It’s awful.  Who did it?”

“The Air Force,” I explained.  “I had to get an emergency root canal a long time ago, and that is how they capped it.”

“With a giant hunk of metal?”

“Yes,” I said.  It sounded like Yessssssssssssshhshhshhhhhhh because of all the instruments in there.

He shook his head.  “So you were in the Air Force, then?”

“Marinnnnesssshhhh,” I told him.  “But I had the root canal done on an Air Force base.”

Dr. Murray seemed to shift a little.  “Marines, huh?”

“Yep.”

“Alright, let’s get your filling done and get you out of here.”  He started grabbing tools and poking around.  He found the cavity that needed filling, and poked it.  I winced and shuddered…I hate that deep, nerve-rocking pain that you get when a dentist pokes at a hole in your teeth.

He did some prep work, and silently I wondered Shouldn’t I be getting some shots of Novocaine by now?  I didn’t say anything until he grabbed the drill.  He pressed the switch and that awful Zwwwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee sound filled the air.

I wriggled and tried to sit up.  The drill was coming closer.  “Hey,” I said.  “Where’s my Novocaine?”

“Oh come on,” Dr. Murray said.  “It’s a tiny cavity, on the surface.  You don’t need Novocaine.”

“Yes, yes I do,” I insisted.  “I really do.  I’d prefer general anesthesia.”

“Pffft,” he said.  “Buck up, Marine.”  He pushed me back on the chair and that is when I knew…I was talking to a former Air Force guy.

And that is the story of the time I got a filling without Novocaine.  Oh, and it turned out to be a little deeper than a “surface cavity.” 

My teeth hurt just thinking about it.

*Names changed because I can’t freaking remember.  It’s been that long.

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7 Comments

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  1. fawn / Nov 3 2010 9:04 pm

    I’ve never done drugs, but I love me that laughing gas, too. That is lovely, lovely stuff. *sigh*

  2. Pammy Girl / Nov 3 2010 1:55 pm

    I was pawned off to an intern dentist when I was in LA. He was not generous with the drugs and I NEED LOTS OF THEM since I have a high tolerance for drugs and a low tolerance for pain. The harder he drilled, the more I winced and kept backing away. He finally grabbed both cheeks and shook my head and said forcibly, “STOP MOVING YOUR HEAD. LEAVE IT RIGHT HERE!!!”

    Found out 6 months and another dentist in a different state later that the asshole drilled and filled the WRONG TOOTH. Thanks to his slick moves I was required to get a crown and a root canal.

    So I feel you.

  3. small town small times / Nov 3 2010 8:05 am

    Sorry, thats hilarious, not Heelariou. Geeze. Need more coffee.

  4. small town small times / Nov 3 2010 8:04 am

    Heelariou. This is a classic. I’ll have to read to my military-obsessed husband. He’ll likely respond with some kind of fist-pumping military shout.

  5. Mike Goad / Nov 3 2010 6:22 am

    “by aversion” should be “my aversion”

    “with having to have gas” should read “without having to have gas”

    Sorry — I usually proof my comments before hitting “submit comment”

  6. Mike Goad / Nov 3 2010 6:20 am

    My dentist caters to cowards.

    I used to be really bad about going to the dentist and the Navy dentists I went to years ago didn’t help by aversion to anyone poking around in my mouth.

    Then I heard Dr. D’s ads on the radio. I hadn’t been to my regular dentist for a long while and really had some bad issues with teeth and gums.

    Now my teeth and gums are wonderfully healthy and I don’t dread my regular checkups or even the times when I have to have work done. I’m finally to the point where I can stand a cleaning with having to have gas. That’s right, they’ll even use gas for a cleaning if the patient is a “coward.”

    For actual work on my teeth, I take a Xanax the night before and then another an hour before the appointment and then my wife drives me there as I’m “under the influence” of anti-anxiety medication. Once I’m in the chair, the first thing they do is start the gas. By the time the dentist is there with the Novocaine, I’m so far out of it that I don’t even feel the pain from the shot.

    Like I said, they cater to cowards — and I highly recommend them to any of my friends here looking for a new dentist.

  7. Melynda / Nov 3 2010 3:34 am

    Ahhh! I am the same way and finally found someone here I like. I won’t go to anyone else. (hopefully he won’t retire anytime soon). 😛

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