Tripping at the Dentist

by Debbie Wilson

For me a trip to the dentist is somewhat like preparing for a real trip. It always involves a lot of preparation and additional pre-trips to various health care providers.   It was one foggy Christmas Eve when Santa and the Tooth Fairy co-mingled to bring me a dreaded travel package deal.  It happened Christmas Eve 2006 when a crown disengaged itself from the front of my mouth.  Have you ever tried to find working dentists on Christmas Eve?  Forget it! They are off in the North Pole with wanna be dentist elves celebrating the holidays.  Having to face family and friends at forty-something with a front tooth missing isn’t as cute as it was when you were 5 and it is the wrong season for the tooth fairy.   

A dentist was finally located as well as a dental surgeon for a root canal on December 27th.  The trip to the surgeon should have involved some relaxation medication but unfortunately for all, it didn’t.  A mere two weeks later, another trip for another root canal, but this time the dental surgeon had insisted on relaxation medication for me or he wouldn’t even walk in the room.  That trip, and many others, involved someone to drive me home, even for routine procedures.  It seemed that my trips to the dentist started to also involve a trip to the pharmacy.  Nice, free vacations of the mind soon followed.  I would look at my handsome dentist and think of him as the tour operator for the gondola ride I was about to take in Venice. The dental hygienist became the hostess at a fancy New York restaurant.  The snag (not of the tooth but in my fantasy) would come when the drilling started.  It is always the drilling that derails any trip, but especially one to the dentist. Just the sound was enough to send shock waves of reality through me.  Whiiiirrrrrr and then the tour guide/dentist would say, “This won’t hurt”. Well, of course it wasn’t going to hurt him and so what if I was numb from my eyebrows to my neck, I could still feel that drill bit! “ Relax” he said, and I think, “Someday buddy, I will be on the other end of that drill and then we will see who is telling whom to relax!”

On a springtime trip to the dentist, I was sent on yet another dental nightmare journey.  I had to endure being fitted for a night guard – you know so you won’t grind your teeth.  The prep work involved having a thick paste stuffed in my mouth for an eternity (or so it seemed).  You can’t breathe, you can’t swallow, you can’t spit…just “hold it, hold it, a few more minutes, another minute, no, it isn’t quite ready so keep holding”.  I was convinced I was choking to death so to take my mind off of it, I imagined the lady in the white coat was from Korean Air and I was about to embark on an “Excellence in Flight” journey.  It worked! I was in a comfortable seat, stuffing olives in my mouth with the promise of gin and tonic to follow.  The lights I saw swimming above my head were the cabin lights. The “flight attendant” said, “just a few more minutes until we start the in-flight movie”.  The dentist/airline pilot suddenly is in my face while my mouth is still stuffed full of olives/paste and he asked how long have I been going to see my current dentist/gondola operator and I say, “aaaarggg, 5 arrrrgggg.”  He nodded and went back to flying the super sleek plane. I’ve never understood why dentists always ask you questions while your mouth is full of paste, their fingers, or instruments of dental torture.

With the fall came another trip and the need for distraction from extraction. It was an appropriate time to return to Venice….aahhhh, the city of root canals. Mr. Hunky Gondola Tour Operator/Dentist was at the controls again.  I imagined his silky, gloved hands placing a rose between my perfect teeth. I bit down with gusto until a screech brought me out of my haze.  As he flapped his hand about, I remarked, “It won’t hurt…….for long”.

Debbie Wilson is the Director of Tourism in Florence, Alabama and a recently published author of, “Brushing Away the Tears”. The book is about her brother, an aspiring artist, who died on AIDS in 1992. Debbie’s mother, Hazel Wilson, a resident of a nursing home for two years, contributed to the book through her letters to her son and journal entries. For more information, and Facebook Fan Site, “Brushing Away”.

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