Adventures in Dentistry

Friday was a little stressful.

We’d had a major network outage on Thursday, so the long-awaited move to production for one of my biggest ongoing projects at work had to be pushed to Friday — and I had a dentist appointment at 3pm, which meant I had to leave work by 2:45 at the latest, which meant that all the planets had to align just right for me to get everything moved into production in time.

I almost didn’t make my deadline. But things came together at the last minute — around 11am, actually, which left me enough time to get everything moved and tested and pass off one final last-minute task to a colleague on my way out the door.

I haven’t checked my work e-mail this weekend (I rarely do), but I’m sure that I’ll go back to work tomorrow to find that one minor (or not-so-minor) detail is keeping everything from getting passed on to the users. Even so, it feels good to have this just about behind me and just about in front of the people who need it.

Stressor #1 out of the way. On to Stressor #2: the dentist.

Of course, I got on I-475 to hightail it to the dentist’s office, and what did I find but bumper-to-bumper traffic. Of course. I contemplated calling and letting the office know that I’d be late, but I knew that their calls go to a central call center, anyway, since they have three or four locations, so by the time my status update got to the people who would need to know, I’d probably be there already. So, I just arrived ten minutes late, and no one seemed to mind.


A few minutes after I arrived and checked in, the dental assistant called me back and let me know that she’d be doing my fillings. At this point, I was a little nervous about what was to come, because I’ve heard tales from my co-workers who have been to this same office and had Very Bad Experiences. One guy got injected with anesthetic and his cheek was swollen for a week; another’s wife got her cheek drilled by the dental assistant. So, I made sure to find out who was doing what and confirm which teeth were getting filled. No problems there: the assistant was numbing and injecting, the dentist was drilling, and the assistant would come back to do the actual fillings. OK.

She put the topical numbing jelly on swabs in my mouth and left me with the TV remote for a few minutes, to wait for the gel to take effect.

My dentist’s office is pretty keen: they have wall-mounted flat-panel TVs with cable, and they give the patient the remote. In the rooms where they do drilling and filling, they also have TVs mounted on the ceiling above the chair. I saw that HGTV was on the screen above the chair, and it was showing my favorite show that I haven’t seen in forever because the network switched it to weekday afternoons (the bastards). Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember what channel HGTV was, and I didn’t have time to surf to it before the assistant came back at me with Very Long Needles. So, I had HGTV to watch, but Man V. Food on the Travel Channel on the wall TV as its soundtrack.

So, anyway. Very Long Needles. One in the left jaw, waaaay in the back, then one in the right, then another in the left. Pinch, some pressure, you know the drill. Then they left me alone again to wait for the real anesthetic to kick in. (Still never found HGTV.) Eventually, my entire bottom lip went numb, as did my tongue and jaw, all the way up to my left ear.

The rest really wasn’t so bad. The dentist did some drilling, of which I felt nothing; then the assistant did some filling, which took at least twice as long.

What was slightly embarrassing (and very annoying) was having a non-working tongue and bottom lip for FIVE HOURS after I left the dentist’s office. I had to try to communicate with the nice cashier on my way out, to pay my bill and schedule my wisdom teeth extraction.

I was more than a little shell-shocked when the cashier/scheduler told me that there was an opening next Friday with the oral surgeon. Um, okay. That’s a little sooner than I’d been banking on, but I guess we may as well get it over with. I somehow managed to enunciate, “Will I need someone to drive me home?” and was told that the standard procedure is for local anesthetic only, not full sedation, “so it’ll be just like today!”

Since they fly in their oral surgeon from another state, I had to prepay my co-pay for the extraction at the same time as paying the co-pay for the fillings, which hit me for about $200 total. Tell you what, I’m mighty glad to have insurance.

So, think of me this coming Friday at about 10:30am. I’ll be having my right upper and lower wisdom teeth removed by an oral surgeon — and after looking at the results of a Google Image Search for “wisdom tooth extraction,” I think I’ll be keeping my eyes closed as much as possible during the procedure. I really don’t want to see what implements of destruction this doctor will be wielding at my gums.