Just yesterday, I visited my dentist in Muncie. I don’t live there anymore, but I’ve maintained my dentist there more out of laziness than anything else. After all, who wants to go searching for a new one when you don’t really need to do so? And, since I still travel there for work occasionally, I can just plan my semi-annual cleanings around business trips. Well, yesterday was sort of a test because the dentist I’ve had since I was a kid (Slavin Dental Clinic) retired this fall and his practice has been transferred to a new doctor (Delaware Dental)….and I must say that she is much cuter than my previous dentist…not that I notice those sorts of things.
I happened to mention to the new hygienist that I had been coming there since I was a boy, and that the father of the dentist who just retired was the dentist who had removed my wisdom teeth when I was a freshman in high school. That dredged up my memories of those fateful weeks of pain, swelling, and anxiety when I joined the club of the wisdom toothless.
Sometime between 8th and 9th grade, my mom took me to Dr. Slavin to have my teeth checked, and he announced that my wisdom teeth were growing in horizontally and pushing all my teeth forward, crowding them together. They needed to come out! The problem was that they actually had not broken through the surface of my gums yet, so this was going to be more than simple extraction. This was going to be oral surgery.
My oldest daughter had this done just a few years ago, and they did all four at once. Boom. In and out in one day. Me? The fun went on for two months!
For me, it wasn’t so quick and easy. For me, they scheduled an eight-week ordeal! They took one tooth at a time. It went in two-week cycles. Take one, wait a week to remove the stitches; then wait another week to take another tooth to repeat the cycle. Eight weeks of rotating swelling and pain! They would take a tooth and one part of my face would swell up and turn various colors. Then, just about the time I would return to normal, they would take another tooth so that another part of my face would swell up and change colors. With things like this, is there any wonder that people are afraid to go to the dentist?
For the most part, I don’t really recall too much of the actual pain from the swelling and stitches. However, I do remember one particular removal event. I remember reclining in the chair. I remember the long needle that injected the numbing agent. I remember the pressure of the cut through my gum. I remember the smell of hot tooth enamel as they cut it into pieces to get it out. But most of all, I remember the PAIN!!!!! Just a few minutes into the procedure, it became quite evident to me that they had not provided enough numbing agent to fully block the pain of the surgery.
I could FEEL it! All of it!
However, I couldn’t tell anyone because they were all up in my mouth! I couldn’t move because they were leaning over me. All I could do was wiggle my feet. And oh boy was I wiggling my feet! Every single stabbing pain was expressed through my leather Converse gym shoes!
Eventually, an assistant noticed the intensity of my feet as they pivoted back and forth with increasing speed, stopped the dentist, and asked me:
“Can you feel that?”
“Uh huh!!” I responded with as much clarity as possible through all the stuff in my mouth.
With a panic-stricken face, the elder Dr. Slavin stopped the procedure and pulled out that long needle again.
I was never so glad to see a needle in my life.
Anyway, my visit to my new, old dentist office yesterday went pretty well despite the five pages of paperwork I had to complete. The new hygienist didn’t hurt me. The new female dentist was nice and cute too. And, they both said my teeth, gums, and mouth all looked wonderful. So, I guess I’ll keep making that occasional trek to Muncie to see my new dentist, and…
I’ll keep brushing and flossing 'cause I'm not too fond of Oral Surgeons.