Hazardous Waste

I’ve never been one for going to the dentist. When I was a kid, my dad made sure we went every six months. But I hated it—our dentist was creepy. He was a nice enough guy I guess, but he was old—at least he seemed old to my eight-year-old self—and stooped over (probably from years of leaning into people’s mouths). He reeked of cigarette smoke, and his equipment was from the dark ages. His exams consisted of looking at my teeth and saying, “You’ve got a beautiful set of choppers there. Wanna trade? Heh heh.” He never cleaned my teeth. Ever.

After freshman year of college, I was a nanny for a couple who were dentists. So of course I saw a dentist then. I had my teeth cleaned for the first time in my life at age 19. And after that summer, I think I saw a dentist once before I got married 11 years later.

By now you probably think that my teeth are black and falling out of my head from lack of maintenance, but it’s actually quite the opposite. J.P. curses me because he brushes, flosses, AND uses the Sonicare brush every night before he goes to bed. He had a cavity filled on Monday. All I ever do is brush, and I think I’ve had one cavity in the last five years.

So you may be surprised to learn that I actually called the dentist today. For the last few days, I’ve had a swollen, tender spot on my gum. It’s in the back of my mouth where one of my wisdom teeth used to be. When I explained all this, he wanted to see me this afternoon.

After a quick assessment, the dentist decided I had an abscess, and he needed to relieve the pressure. So he shot me full of Novocain and got to work. I closed my eyes so as not to see the sharp sadistic instruments he was putting in my mouth. At one point I opened my eyes to see projectile pus shooting across the room. It flew a good 4-5 feet, and it was all the dentist could do to get his face out of its way. I think he was a little disgusted, but I thought it was really cool.

The bad news? It was only a temporary fix. I made an appointment with the periodontist for a more permanent solution—something called a ‘distal wedge.’ Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Yay, gum surgery! And it’s scheduled for Friday, my day off.

Believe it or not, the periodontist’s name is Dr. Sharkey.

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