Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The Tuesday of our Holiday Vacation. My Trip to the Dentist
Well, there is very little Space Center news to report considering the Center is closed for the holiday so I'll just write about odds and ends.
Winter is taxing my patience. I used to be a big fan of the season but the older I get the less tolerance I have for snow packed roads and stupid drivers. I’m sitting at my front window looking at the fresh powder falling on my driveway and sidewalk. What may look “pretty” from the front window is actually something that requires my labor. I need to go outside, take the shovel and move the stuff, and as soon as I move it more will fall and as soon as I move that even more will fall. I’m done with it.
I visited the dentist this morning. It’s been a year since my last check up. I find my cavity count is usually zero with so many of my original molars replaced by crowns; therefore eliminating the need for six month visits.
My dentist is aging with me. I’ve been a patient of his since 1982. I thought how proud he must be when he looks into my mouth every year and sees his handiwork. There’s got to be some real job satisfaction in that. I enjoy my check ups. He may be on the young side of ancient but his dental assistants aren’t. I had a very pretty blond working on my teeth this morning. I tried to say something ‘hip‘ to strike up a conversation but came up with nothing.
“Do you want fresh mint or cinnamon for your polish?” she asked.
“Fresh mint,” I answered.
I sometimes wonder what to do with my eyes while my teeth are worked on. Younger dentists have distractions - like TV’s mounted in the ceiling. You can catch up on the news while you’re getting your cavities drilled. My dentist is very old school. He has boring ceiling tile with 25 tiny holes in each to look at. I sometimes stare into the overhead light. I find it interesting that the light my dentist uses today is the same make and model my dentist used when I was a kid in the 1960’s in Rapid City, South Dakota. Why change a good thing, right?
I thought about looking into her eyes while she worked on my teeth but thought better of it considering she had a mechanical spinning object in my mouth. Making her uncomfortable was the last thing I wanted to do.
I was hoping she’d say something complementary about my teeth, considering I never needed braces and all my molars were beautiful, unblemished crowns.
“You’re not brushing vigorously enough up near your top molars. I see a build up of plaque that is starting to calcify,” she said.
“Thank you,” I replied. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Out came the floss when the polishing was complete. She wound it around her fingers and started.
Tsk, tsk, tsk,” was the sound she made while trying to break through the calcified barriers bridging my teeth in an attempt to clean between my molars. I knew that she knew my flossing needed addressing. I'm not motivated to floss. My dental hygiene attention span handles brushing and nothing else. Besides, why not be her job security and let her do my flossing for me every six months?
She finished the flossing and directed me to the sink to “Rinse and Spit”. A moment later I was back in the recliner and waiting for the dentist to make an appearance. I knew I was next in line. I could hear him in the next room working on a lady that broke one of her front teeth on a pistachio.
The drilling in the next room stopped. A moment later he walked into my room. I was taken back by his glasses. I knew he wore glasses but what he was wearing wasn't your ordinary pair of glasses. His glasses had small microscopes embedded in each lens. I’m surprised he found where I was sitting.
“How are you Victor?” he asked while looking toward the wall. His assistant politely coughed, directing him to my general direction.
“Doing fine,” I answered as he lowered the chair’s back to his level. “Pretty impressive specs you’ve got there.”
“Well, an old dentist’s got to do what an old dentist’s gotta do,” he answered while feeling around my face for my mouth.
His exam was complete. He scraped and poked and scraped and poked as he went from tooth to tooth.
“Your front teeth are wearing down. You’ve got a small chip in one and the other is showing transparency. What are you doing, chewing on bark?” he commented. I never know how to respond to a dentist’s questioning with three tools inserted in my mouth. I did the best I could and grunted. He nodded as if he understood, then continued his scraping and poking.
At one point he stopped to clean his ice pick. My mouth was clear for a brief moment.
“I like my beef jerky,” I said, trying to justify the wearing down of my front teeth. There was an awkward pause, followed by the reinsertion of the tools.
“That explains part of it. All that biting and chewing, tsk tsk tsk....,” he said. “We may have to do some polishing. Maybe not today. We’ll give it a bit more time.”
I wondered what he meant by “part of it”? Could the other part be the fact that I, along with all other humans on this planet, must use my teeth to eat? Could that be the reason my teeth are showing signs of wear? Well, I apologize for that but will not stop eating just to save the wear on my two front teeth!
He finished the exam and looked at the x-rays.
“You’re good to go. No cavities this time,” he said. I was invited to stand and leave the room. I stood. He was already gone into the next room. The pretty blond 20 something hygienist stood in the doorway with the exam results and a small baggy holding a toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste and a small container of floss.
“See you in six months,” she radiated with perfectly white, straight teeth.
“Thanks,” I replied with my perfectly yellow, diet coke stained but straight teeth.
I walked to my car. It was starting to snow. I opened my car door, tossed in the dental Care Package, shut the door and hopped the curb to the Walkers Gas Station next door. I felt the need to celebrate another clean dental bill of health. I bought a diet soda and a package of those tasty orange circus peanuts in the ‘2 packages for $1.00‘ packaging. I skipped the jerky. I decided I’d follow my dentist’s advice for one day.