As I begin to take a nostalgic look back at the year 2010, one theme stands out above all others – this has truly been the year of the dentist.
It all started in April when A came home with a swollen cheek. I thought it was the mumps, so I took him to the doctor. She peered into his mouth and said, “It’s not the mumps, but he does have a badly abscessed molar.”
A couple of days later we were at our family dentist, a rather burly man with sausage-like fingers. He doesn’t relate well to kids, and the 45 minutes he spent heroically trying to save A’s tooth seemed like an eternity. When he finally concluded that the dead tooth would have to come out after all, and he reached for the large pliers, A decided that he’d had enough for one day and refused to open his mouth. The dentist essentially threw up his arms and said, “I can do no more for this child. He must go somewhere else. They will have to knock him out.”
Fortunately, that unhappy appointment led us to Kids and Teens Dentistry. Despite being an incredibly busy clinic, they quickly found a spot for A the next week. After an initial consult, we got the verdict: not only would the abscessed (and now hollowed out) molar need to be removed, but he had a number of cavities, some of which would require crowns. Despite assurances from the dentist that the damage was simply caused by a specific bacteria and weak enamel, we still felt like horrible parents. Six visits later, he had two extractions, two spacers, two crowns, and fillings…lots of fillings.
In September, it was K’s turn. Although the initial check-up didn’t indicate any problems, X-rays revealed he had a number of cavities as well. So, it was four more visits back to the dentist for more crowns and fillings, but fortunately, no extractions.
Last month, it was my turn. My visit to the dentist started with one of those fancy new 360° X-rays that generates a panoramic picture of your mouth. The hygienist looked at the image and said, “Wow, that’s interesting”, and called over a colleague. She pointed to one spot on my lower jaw and said, “That wisdom tooth is coming in sideways. That’s a little unusual.” She pointed to another spot on my upper jaw. “That wisdom tooth is up near your ear,” she said. “We really don’t see that very often”. Awesome.
This week I went to a specialist. He looked at the X-ray and said, “They’ll both have to come out eventually.” I sighed. He said a few more things, including my personal favourite – “You’re way past the threshold of this being easy.”
So, sometime in the next 12 months, when I screw up the courage to actually go through with it, I’ll be put to sleep and they will freeze, slice, drill, saw, and stitch my mouth. My cheeks will balloon like a greedy chipmunk. I may lose sensation in my lip and the tip of my tongue – perhaps permanently. My record of no painful or invasive medical procedures will come to an end at 38 years.
On the positive side, it has been 25+ years since the Tooth Fairy visited me. I’m pretty sure she’s going to owe me big time for this one.