Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Distraction from Drilling

I have always hated going to the dentist, especially if I knew I was going to have major work done on my teeth. Today was no exception. I was going because Larry, my dentist, had noticed that my last lower left molar had a crack in it when the braces came off. He had said that it might require only a filling, but with my track record, I knew that was unlikely.

At the last minute as I left this morning, I grabbed my new CD of Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano. I asked Larry if I could listen to it while he drilled into my tooth. Instead of broadcasting it to the whole office, he set me up with my own set of headphones and cranked the volume up. I closed my eyes and drifted off into jazz-land as he set about carefully numbing my mouth. I usually find the novacaine to be the most uncomfortable part of any dental procedure. He put it in in little doses and did it very slowly. NO pain so far. Then after my jaw was good and numb, the drilling began.

Every now and then he would take off the headphones and let me know what was going on. There was the initial news that the crack extended into the interior of the tooth from both sides – no great surprise. He proposed 3 options:
(1) Remove any decay and just fill the tooth and hope for the best.
(2) Grind it down to a nub and put a porcelain and gold full crown on.
(3) Salvage the non-decayed part of the tooth and just put a gold crown on the top. This was the bargain of the day, with the only downside being that it would definitely look like a crown.
I quickly opted for #3, not caring in the least what a tooth at the far back of my mouth looked like.

He took multiple impressions and photos while I still continued to listen to my wonderful jazz. He actually made a temporary crown that looks and feels like a real tooth. He carefully fitted it and did all of those things where you grind your teeth on the special paper that checks your bite. He then cut off the back end of my retainer so that it would still fit with my new tooth. He had alotted 50 minutes for my appointment. At 49-1/2 minutes, he was finished and offered me a chance to see the photos of my tooth at various stages of the crowning procedure.

After re-claiming my CD and relinquishing the headphones, I re-entered the real world, saw my photos, and prepared to pay for my new gold tooth. $1245 was the amount. It could have been a whole lot worse.

But the best part about it was that I had been so distracted by my wonderful new CD that I had really been able to ignore what is usually an awful ordeal for me. Every experience I have with Larry Bowers affirms that he is by far the best dentist I have ever had.

The memory of biting Dr. Goss, my dentist when I was 6, is still somewhere in the back of my mind.

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