Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Show me those pearly whites!

Yesterday I went to the dentist for my six month cleaning slash check-up.  It was fine; pretty much the normal routine.  Sadly, my long-time favorite hygienist has retired, but hopefully she has moved on to better and fun non-work related adventures. 

Hopefully I am not jinxing myself to say this, but I have never had a cavity.  This is surprising (to me) due to the fact that I not only do NOT floss on a regular basis, but that I also regularly consume sugar, coffee and soda.  I also sported a full set of braces in my teens, which cannot have had a positive effect on my overall dental hygiene.

So my dentist visits typically consist of some form of X-Ray or photograph, a thorough picking over with those little metal devices that they have, polishing, flossing and then a quick visit with my dentist to admonish me to floss regularly, not scrub too hard when I brush and to try and use my mouth guard at night (I am a grinder). 

This time around, I had to submit to a photograph of my face for their records.  Not probably my ideal look, but apparently they like to have record of what we look like when we are not there.  As if my bite wing pictures were not reminder enough. 

Here is another fun fact for you:  I have a small mouth.  'Tis true; just ask my orthodontist.  My upper retainer could be offered for proof or comparison if I had not lost it on Christmas break of my freshman year of college.  Thankfully, my lower retainer is semi-permanently bonded behind my lower teeth, so it is impervious to my absent-mindedness.

I am proud to say that I do not fear the dentist.  This means a lot, especially from me as I am quite definitely NOT as calm about visits to the doctor for any reason. 

As a child, I was the patient of a very proactive children's dentist.  My teeth were "slow," you see.  As in, they did not fall out as quickly as common experience would dictate.  For this reason, my first "lost" tooth came courtesy of a forced tooth extraction in October of first grade.  And it was not just one tooth; it was both of my lower front teeth. 

Over the course of the next five years, I had many more forced extractions.  In the end, a grand total of half of my baby teeth were pulled.  The other half came out naturally.  Once I had my wisdom teeth extracted at age 21, the balance toppled to the unnatural side.

I share this information as a lead in to a very strange and unusual discovery that I made at age 12.  You see, in most of my tooth extraction procedures, my dentists instructed me to close my eyes.  I was not sedated, but I follow orders very well.  I was told that I would then feel a "slight pinch" in my gums, but not to be alarmed. 

For years, I accepted this pinch without questioning the source.  As you may be able to guess, this feeling was the injection of Novocaine into my gums to numb the area around my tooth to allow for relatively painless removal. 

When I reached the mature age of 12, my dentist must have decided to remove the blinders.  I was not warned and I did not close my eyes.  When he approached me with what appeared to be the longest needle known to man, I balked.  To my surprise, it turns out that this was the same instrument that they had been using all along.  Can you believe it? 

Here is a fun fact about me:  I HATE NEEDLES.  I hate them and fear them.  They are never the harbingers of anything good to my life and I find them to be sneaky.  I cannot trust them.  Had I known all along that I was being routinely attacked by them in the dentist's chair, I would likely have required restraint.  Just ask my mother how blood drawing episodes in the medical lab used to go for her.  Drama.

So there you have it, my dental history.  Aren't you glad you kept reading?  Perhaps tomorrow I can talk about more lame medical history. 

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