He is About to Go to the Dentist. Really, He Is

By Joe Darby

I have to go to the dentist next week. I mean, I really have to.

I’ve been needing to go for a few weeks. About a week before Thanksgiving I was eating a bacon and tomato sandwich one night. As I was chewing one particular bite, something felt funny to my tongue. At first I thought a piece of bacon had become lodged behind a tooth, the one just behind my upper right canine.

But, alas, no bacon bit had become stuck in a tooth. The tooth was broken, seemingly split up one side, according to what my tongue could ascertain by its probings. I was pretty surprised, because I didn’t feel the tooth break. Also, bacon and tomatoes are relatively soft foods , even bacon that’s a bit crunchy. But there I was, with a broken tooth and a half eaten bacon sandwich in my hand.

The good thing was, that it didn’t hurt. For a while I kept waiting for the throbbing to begin. Boy, this is going to hurt some, I kept thinking. But I was lucky and to this day, about three weeks later, it still hasn’t caused me any pain.

So, just a couple of days after that I was due for a regular cleaning at my dentist’s and I took the opportunity to show her the handiwork of that rogue bacon sandwich. She said I was lucky that no nerves were exposed and that I wasn’t hurting pretty bad. She said she thought she could fix it by a simple repair job, but she didn’t rule out my needing a crown some time down the line.

Okay, let’s go for the repair job, I said. But I asked if we could wait until after the Thanksgiving holidays and she said, fine, as long as it doesn’t hurt. So here we are, two weeks after Thanksgiving and I still haven’t called to make the appointment. But I’m going to do that today. When you read this I should have already called the tooth doc.

As the above tale should make clear, I’m a bit of a coward when it comes to going to a dentist. I’ve had my share of root canals and crowns and, fortunately, root canals are not the terror they are sometimes made out to be (You’ve probably somebody say something like “I’d rather have a root canal than go through that again,” whatever “that” was.). But root canals are definitely not fun. You’re stuck in the dentist’s chair for a long time, having to hold your mouth wide open, while he or she does the major repair job called for. I’ve never really asked a dentist exactly what are the mechanics of a root canal. Some things we are better off not knowing.

The new ultra high speed drills are not too bad, either. But sometimes the dentist will need to use one of those low RPM drills that sound like a buzz saw going off inside your head. When that happens, my posture is always the same. My hands have grown white from gripping the dentist’s chair’s arms, my stomach is tensed and raised half off of the chair and my eyes are closed tight, waiting for the noisy ordeal to be over.

The first time I went to a dentist, as a teenager many years ago, I think most of the drills they used back then were the slow, noisy kind I also had to have a few teeth pulled, too — another delightful procedure.

Anyway, it’s far better to have repaired teeth in your skull than to be riddled with old ugly, decayed choppers that can cause more pain than most drills. So, as I said, I’m about to go back to the dentist. And I’ll be fine. Really I will. Won’t I?