Tooth Work

There may be nothing so frustrating as having to get your teeth worked on shortly after moving.

I recently moved to New York, and chipped a tooth on Sunday. There was moderate pain, so Monday morning I called a dentist and set up an appointment. The dentist is about a block away from my apartment, so I was able to walk there this morning and get my tooth worked on. I never realized how much I liked my former dentist in Missouri until this dentist got started on my teeth.

Now, before I go on, I think it’s important to say: This dentist is nice. He wasn’t rude, and he probably did a good job on my teeth. I’m not sure if he did or not; I’m no expert on teeth. (I’ll come back to this in a minute.) But he’s also old and he has the same problem all New Yorker’s have: they love to talk over each other. So while he was asking me questions, he wouldn’t wait for an answer before he would ask something else.

Then there’s getting me numb. My last dentist told me he used lidocaine to get me numb; took about 3 shots, all administered at the same time, and then he’d happily drill away at my teeth. This dentist asked me if I was numb. I said, “I don’t think so. I can still feel a cold kind of pain when I breath in on the tooth.” – so he started drilling.

Spoiler alert: Wasn’t numb.

So, you know what? Fine. He doesn’t know how tolerant I am; he tried with one shot, that didn’t work. So he shot me up with another shot. Same spot, back of my mouth. (Which hurts like a bitch now when I try to open it, but that’s not uncommon.) – my former dentist used to do two in the back, and one near the tooth itself. My new dentist tells me he’s using novocaine, (pretty sure he used lidocaine or something else, since novocaine went by way of the dinosaur in most practices around 1950, but that’s a story for another day) and I think to myself, “Maybe he’s using a larger dose than my old dentist.”

Fast forward 20 minutes, he comes back, I can still feel my tooth and my jaw and my lips. I should feel like I’ve got a big fat lip right about now. He says something about giving me a “buffalo” to the person he was working with, (dental hygenist? nurse? I dunno; she was nice though) and he then injects me just below the tooth he’s going to work on. I get numb really fast.

He gets up and wanders off to work on another patient. I hear drilling, I hear scraping, I hear flushing. I twiddle my thumbs, check my phone, play a little Retris (reverse Tetris) and wait.

About 7 songs later, (30 minutes, kids) he comes back and asks if I’m numb. I’ve been numb for 28 minutes. Good and numb. I’ve been chewing on my lip, poking my teeth, and ready to go for a while. I’m now convinced that while he’s drilling it’s gonna wear off and I’m gonna flip out at the first feeling of pain.

Spoiler alert 2: The drilling went off without a hitch.

The rest of the procedure goes about how you’d expect. He drills, I rinse, he fills, I rinse, he sculpts, I rinse, he declares me done, I rinse and run out the door. A 45 minute visit is now 2 hours in the making, so I rush back to my apartment, grab my glasses (forgot’em this morning as I left the apartment) and check the work in the mirror.

It definitely doesn’t look the same as my last dentist. My teeth are not shaped the same as they were before I chipped my tooth and popped loose my other filling. They are shaped quite differently now, and it is *very* noticeable to me. But, maybe it’ll be better now. (I told you earlier I wasn’t an expert on teeth.) They do look more fragile now, though, so I’ll worry about them for a while at the very least.

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