October 18, 2004

Throbbing, but not in a good way

I hate breaking in a new dentist.

I had an appointment today to take care of a molar that had cracked. It was hurting a little bit occasionally, but nothing that a couple of tylenol wouldn't take care of. Last week my wife was going to see the dentist, so I had her make me an appointment while she was there. It was time to take care of this before it became a real problem.

It turns out that my regular dentist is on maternity leave, so I had to see one of her 'associates'. I'm not the best patient in the world ('baby' would be a good description), so I was already a little shook up by this revelation. Dammit, I was used to my regular dentist. The receptionist told me to take a seat, but I was too nervous to sit.

When they called my name, I could tell right away that it was going to be a bumpy ride. Like any medical professional, this guy wants to do his own x-rays and exam and then talk to me about what needs doing. I understand that, except that I'd already been through all of this with my regular dentist and we'd already decided what the plan was. But fine, whatever. I was determined to be reasonable and at least listen to what he had to say, because I certainly don't want to have him pissed off at me before he starts in with the needles and what not. So he buzzed my head with radiation and began explaining the options. I calmly let him know what we'd had planned, but it wasn't what he wanted to hear, so we waited for the films to come back.

Turns out that I was right, and the best course of action was what we'd already decided on. Step one was extracting that tooth. Cool, let's get it done.

Dentistry has made amazing progress during my lifetime. With the right dentist, "pain free" has become truth in advertising. But I still hate the shots. Maybe it's the growing up I've done, or maybe I'm tougher, or maybe the needles are sharper, but the shots don't hurt nearly as much as they used to. Doesn't matter though, because my hands go into a white-knuckle clench and my whole body gets trip-wire tense as they shoot me up.

A few minutes later, he does a few test pokes. He's got the sucky-thingee hanging out of my mouth, plus what feels like his arm elbow-deep, not to mention whatever ancient torture devices he's wielding in there, and he's asking me questions. My regular dentist has the decency to remove her hand before expecting me to answer, but this guy wants to carry on a conversation.

"You jumped. Was that pain?"


"Pain? Or Pressure?"


So we go for round two with the needle. Actually, we got to round three in short order, and it's still hurting like hell every time he does whatever he's doing. We play 20 questions: yes, it's pain. No, it's not just pressure. Yes, I'm numb. Yes, the tongue too. I'm telling him it's deep pain, not around the gumline, and then he mentions that there's an infection down there. Wonderful.

We give it one more try, and I almost end up on the floor when he grabs the tooth. I'm bathed in cold sweat and I've got a headache from the tension in my neck muscles, and finally I have to ask him if it would be better to take an antibiotic to knock out the infection and try again in a week or two. He agrees, and then looks me in the eye and tells me straight up:

"I'm going to give you a prescription for codeine, because you're going to be in a lot of pain when the numb wears off."

Oh. Crap.

We head out to the front desk, me on weak knees, still mopping flop sweat from my face and neck. My jaw is throbbing, and as I walk out to the waiting room there are two young kids sitting there. Both of them are staring at me wide-eyed. I knew that I hadn't been silent during our little adventure, but there's no reason these kids should be afraid of the dentist, so I smiled at them and said "Man, I hate getting my haircut!"

They laughed, which is what I was going for.

The dentist is a nice enough guy, and I'm (reasonably) sure he's competent, but he hurt me and now I don't trust the sonuvabitch. I'm a little concerned about the infection thing, I mean I shouldn't have been the first one to mention antibiotics. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, and at that moment I brought it up more in self-defense than anything.

I drove home and Liz ran to the store to get my prescriptions filled. Now I'm sitting here feeling fortunate that tomorrow is going to be a light day at work. My tooth is letting me know that it's not happy, but it's tolerable.


Posted by Ted at October 18, 2004 08:59 PM
Category: Boring Stories

Ohhhhhh Ted. Ohhhh! I feel your pain - I SO hate the dentist. All of them. I still can't get over how you managed to say what you did to the kids, regardless of the ordeal you'd just gone through.

I hope you're feeling better very soon - and that the prescriptions help ease the pain.

Posted by: Cindy at October 18, 2004 11:04 PM

Crikey! Almost sounds like the sunuvabitsh gave you bone bruises or something. Or poked a nerve.

Yeesh. You shouldn't leave the dentist's hurting worse than when you went in.

Have a brandy or something, eh? Hope you're feeling better!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at October 18, 2004 11:17 PM

Dentists are such a personal relationship. That would not be cool to train some new guy.

poor sweetie. hope you at least had some good nitris.


Posted by: vadergrrrl at October 19, 2004 01:45 AM

Ooow. I hurt just reading that. I hope that codeine is good to you.

Posted by: nic at October 19, 2004 05:28 PM
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