5.07.2004

The Telltale Tooth

I went to the dentist for a routine cleaning the other day, and as he was examining my teeth, he noted that the filling in my front tooth had become really discolored. This isn't a cavity filling, but almost a fake tooth, occupying about a quarter of one of my two front teeth. And yes, it's gotten pretty yellow over the years. (I broke my tooth at my friend Tiffany's 14th birthday party when she swung a door open in my face.)

My dentist and I have discussed this filling before, and before he seemed quite content to just let me have it replaced when I was good and ready. I wanted to get my teeth whitened first, then replace it. Today, however, he seemed to have a real fire in his belly. Maybe he and his fellow dentists had placed bets on who could force the most optional procedures on their patients in a week, or maybe he just had a light appointment load that morning. Whatever the reason, he suggested that we replace the filling right then and there. It would only take 20 minutes, he said, and it wouldn't even require novocaine.

I shuddered at this thought. When I'd broken the tooth on that fateful Saturday afternoon so many years ago, it had hurt like hell. I'd called my dentist's emergency number and paged him frantically, but he wasn't able to see me until Monday. The pain I endured for those two days remains vividly, tangibly burned in my memory. I could barely eat or even breathe--exposing my tooth exposed to anything, even air, hurt. How, I thought, HOW could this procedure require no novocaine?

"Well, I'll start to shave it down," said Dr. Hasse, lifting the miniature circular saw to my mouth. "And if you start to feel anything, you let me know."

"Wailgh!" I grunted, furrowing my brow until the four hands (a hygienist named Pierre was also involved in this madness) were removed from my jaw. "If I start to FEEL ANYTHING? Are you SURE about this?"

"I really don't think I'm going to have to go that deep," the doctor said, inching the saw closer. He started to shave.

The exciting part is that this story does not invoke Edgar Allen Poe here. He shaved and shaved and shaved away; I felt nothing. And my tooth came out... well, that's the rub. When he proudly whipped out the mirror and showed me my new, white, beautiful tooth, I had to fake my enthusiasm when I said, "What a winning smile!" I'm not happy with my new tooth. It's not quite the same shape as my old one, and I don't know what to do about it. The difference is probably unnoticeable to most people, but I don't like it. Thing is, I adore my dentist. What's a vain girl who values her great teeth to do?

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