Monday, February 04, 2008



Most of the time, my thrice-annual forays to the dentist are pretty unexceptional.

I go in, and the hygienist scrapes the four-month accumulation of crap off my choppers. It’s a mostly innocuous procedure, except for when she gets out the Cavitron, that ultrasonic thingie that makes your entire brain resonate with the happy sound of nails on a chalkboard.

I hate the fucking Cavitron.

When the hygienist is done with the Chalkboard ’n’ Nail Device and I’ve released my vise-like grip on the side of the Adjustable Dental Chair, it’s time for a thorough flossing, followed by a session with the Sandblast Machine. This latter implement blows a baking soda and salt mixture onto the surface of the teeth at about Mach 3, bringing the enamel surface - whatever is left of it at this point - to a high polish.

Only now - now that my teeth are clean and spotless - does Mister Doctor Dentist come in to probe my teeth with Pointy Metal Implements. And generally speaking, that’s all there is to it. It’s rare for me to have a cavity, so aside from having to have the occasional random Root-Planing, I just go home and wait for my next cleaning.

But not this time.

At my last appointment, the Crown Restoration hammer got dropped on me.

It seems that my left maxillary first molar has been on the Watch List for some time now. It’s riddled with a patchwork of old fillings: some amalgam, some plastic composite, and all heading in the direction of FUBAR. Throw in some gumline erosion on the labial surface, and you’ve got a tooth that is practically crying out for a crown.

I have two crowns already (both the right and left mandibular first molars) so I know (so to speak) the drill. You sit patiently in the chair as they take an impression of your tooth. Then the dentist shoots you full of Novocaine and sands off the outer surfaces of the tooth, leaving a nice, smooth peg-shaped core. Another impression, and then a temporary plastic crown is fitted into place, to be replaced in a couple of weeks by the permanent porcelain-jacketed gold restoration.

My guy is smooth. I couldn’t even feel that huge-ass needle go in, and there was no discomfort whatsoever during the procedure...except for that of having to keep my mouth open wide. And while it’s no fun listening to that drill resonate through the Skull-Bone, at least it’s not like that scene in Marathon Man in which Laurence Olivier perforates Dustin Hoffman’s teeth without the benefit of anesthesia. Oy.

On the whole, this whole procedure was less painful than a teeth-cleaning (albeit more lengthy, and hellaciously more expensive).

So: how did you spend your afternoon?

No comments: