Two weeks ago, when I went to the dentist for a check up, I discovered why my bottom right tooth has been twinging back at me when I floss: it was cracked along the back. The dentist showed me the crack with his magical magnifying camera-that-fits-in-mouths; it sort of gave me nightmares to see it.
Not as much as the impending shots in the mouth, but still. I could have done without that image.
Today I went in to get that tooth, with its cracked filling that extended into the tooth, and another one, also with a cracked filling, fixed. Two teeth, and of course they can't be next to each other, or even on the same side. Top left, bottom right. Half of my top lip and cheek were numb; half of the bottom, too, but on the opposite side, so I felt like I had a checkerboard smile. I think the dentist had to use a half gallon of Novocaine to get me numb. With that pre-numbing stuff they use now, the shots didn't really hurt much, but my body didn't like it. My heart started racing and my face was flushed and I felt this close to passing out.
I concentrated on deep breathing.
Deep breathing and fuming at my old dentist, who really was old. He went to dental school with Kendell's dad (who was also a dentist). We started going to him when our other dentist stopped taking our insurance. The strange thing was: I went twelve entire years (going to the previous dentist) without getting a cavity. Then, when we started going to Kendell's dad's friend, I had a new cavity nearly every time I went. I hated going to that dentist. I mean, I always hate going to the dentist. But this man was...well, he was old. He was ready to retire, so he didn't want to update his office. He'd get grumpy with the kids when they got scared. He thought that silver fillings were much better than those newfangled white ones.
I don't know why we kept going to him, other than a sense of obligation because he was Kendell's dad's friend.
Really, I should have been fuming at myself. The fact that my dislike of the dentist was made exponentially worse by that particular dentist should have been a clue to my (dense) self: go somewhere else. There are approximately 8 million dentists where I live. Why stick with one who made me miserable? And one who gave me unnecessary fillings. Unnecessary fillings that were far too big, and thus caused that ugly crack in my tooth and a surge of tooth-related nightmares.
I survived my dental appointment today, but only barely. What hurts more than the sharp ache in my jaw is knowing that it's very nearly my own fault. I brush, I floss, I use Listerine, but what I didn't do was listen to my intuition. I let a sense of misguided obligation make me miserable. It makes me wonder. I'm nearly 40 years old; when will I be old enough to trust my gut?