Monday, March 8, 2010

Just breathe through it

Those are not words you want to hear your dentist say.

It's not that there was no troglodyte infested cave in my tooth, it's that he didn't see it until I pointed it out a third time. The minute he saw it, he admitted I was right and he proceeded to get the excavation tools.

We can do both today, he said. You're not going to need anesthesia for the little one, but you're going to need some for the other one.

He gave me a shot near the cave. While that took effect, he went to work on the other side of my mouth. When he came back to start working on it, he noticed it was still too sensitive so he gave me another shot and tried again.

A cold blast of scraping rotating pain went through my tooth and straight to my eyeballs leaving sparks ricocheting in my skull. My eyes flew open as my arms gripped the chair and I grunted so I wouldn't scream.

Sorry, he said. It'll just be minute. Keep your eyes closed.

I'd like to take a moment now to apologize to all those of you who are afraid of dentists. I now realize I'd never had a bad experience at the dentist and I had no concept of the pain you had gone through.

While growing up I always saw the family dentist - my mother's cousin. He pleasantly chatted away with my mom as he worked on my teeth. They caught up on the lives and minor scandals of distant relatives as their chatter lulled me into indifferent boredom. When we were done, we would go downstairs to the Heladeria Americana and have a frozomalt under the almendros.

When I moved to Bogotá, I never bothered to go to the dentist. I just waited until I visited my parents back in Barranquilla, and I had only had one other dentist in New York. I'm only now realizing how gentle she was.

So I shut my eyes and he went in again with renewed vigor. I held on to those armrests until I almost bruised them

You know that cottony feeling you get from dental anesthesia where your mouth and lips feel like they've grown three times their size and your skin is made of paper? I didn't feel that. I was not numb at all and I tried to tell him.

Don't try to to talk right now, he said. I know it hurts but I can't give you any more anesthesia.

After digging out a few more bucketfuls of debris, he decided he was done. He patched things up and sent me away, telling me not to eat anything that required chewing for the rest of the day.

I paid and headed out, glad to have been released alive. I was a few blocks away when my mouth started going numb. By the time I got home my lips felt they were the size of Texas and I didn't know where half my face had gone. Anesthesia, I could have used your help a little sooner. Why did you take your sweet time stopping by?

No food for me last night - just some broth. But no food for me today either. I can't chew, I can't open my mouth too wide and even yawning hurts.

Oh, and my bite is off. It looks like I might have to go back tonight for round 2.


  1. Good God, Majo. FIND ANOTHER DENTIST! This one clearly isn't very good, and I don't think that giving him another chance is going to change anything. In fact, you'll find that the dentists who make you more comfortable also do better work - as in, the repairs will last longer. Let's just say that my wife learned this the hard way.

    If you're willing to travel, I can recommend a good dentist or two. They'll be more expensive, but worth it in the long run.

  2. Yeah, dude, I second Brian--in no way shape or form should you have felt a damn thing going on in your mouth other than some minor pulling...this guy is bad news, PLEASE go find someone else!

  3. I will find someone else. I have dental insurance so that might limit my choices somewhat, but I'm sure there must be someone good who is covered.

    Tonight I just need one of the new fillings field down a little bit and the fastest way to get that done is here. He's not there every day, so I shouldn't get him.

    Trust me. Next time I'm going somewhere else.