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One tooth less

Updated on February 20, 2012


I take good care of my teeth. I brush. I floss. I visit my dentist, Dr. G., twice a year. He, too, takes good care of my teeth. He has only one fault. He's a sadist. He doesn't know it,but he is. He works on me for hours at a time. He has large hands. I have a small mouith. I call him Dr. Relentless. He doesn't understand why I complain. I wouldn't want him to read this. He'd probably take three hours next visit. But I'm safe. He's never learned to use his computer. Why have I stayed with him all these years? I don't know. I'm a creature of habit.

Last week I had already suffered through an hour and a half of scaling, and x-rays. I thought I was home free until he examined the pictures of my lower left quadrant. He pulled no punches.

"Oh my gosh. This is terrible. You have a bad cavity on the root of your third molar. I can't even get to it. I don't know if I can do this."

"You're really inspiring confidence in me. I guess I'll have to have it pulled."

"No, no. We'll try. It's always good to try."

He shoved an x-ray in my face. I didn't need to see. The decay was in a food pocket where I can't brush or floss. He jabbed a probe inside the gum and I elevated.

"Why did you do that?"

"I wanted you to see that it was really there."

"I believed you."

Yesterdsay I returned to his office for what I knew would be an ordeal. I was throwing myself to the lions and i was no Sparticus. He took another x-ray and searched for an abscess or nerve involvement.

"If I can save this, it will be a miracle."

True, he anesthesized me first, but an hour and a half of drilling is still no picnic. His nurse, Susan, arrived late, as usual.

"What are you doing to Marvin?"

"Damned if I know. I can't see a thing in here."

Ten minutes later I became intimately acquainted with my neurons--every cell body, axon, and dendrite.

"O.K. I've exposed it. It has got to come out right away. You really don't need that tooth."

"I've gotten kind of used to it."

Carrying the x-ray, he walked me across the hall to the oral surgeon, who could see me in a hour. I asked for a local because I am a control freak; if I'm going to be assaulted, I may want to fight back.

"It's a very tough extraction," Dr. Yankum,explained. "Right up against a filling in the next tooth. It's hollow from all the drilling you just had done. It'll probably crack. I've got to drill some more and then cut the gum Very difficult."

""I've heard enough difficult today, Doc. Just do it. I don't need a blow by blow. Besides, I'm tough. I'm Dr. G's patient.

His nurse laughed but he didn't see the humor. I wasn't trying to be funny.

Another hour and a half and the last root was removed. He kept asking how I was doing.

"Just finish, doc. I'll take care of me."

As I finally left the office, Dr. G's nurse stopped me.

"Do you want to schedule your cleaning now, Marvin?"

"Susan, just leave me alone."


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