Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sanded Teeth

Today I had to go to the dentist. Fun, huh? Obviously I was not pleased at having to go at all, since I am not a huge fan of the dentist (but really, other than Spongebob, who is?) But I was especially not pleased that the appointment fell right in the middle of the busy Christmas season, not to mention in the middle of one of the busiest work weeks I've seen in quite a while, causing me to rearrange my schedule and essentially con my co-worker into covering court for me. As this was only a six month check up, I briefly considered rescheduling the appointment, but realized that it could feasibly be six more months before I would be able to obtain an appointment that would be convenient. Grudgingly, I trudged into the dentist's office.

As I opened the inner door, I was immediately greeted with a rush of warm air pungent with the mixed smell of dental tools and potions, and the nearly overwhelming smell of women's perfume. Though it was of indiscernible brand, it was not altogether unpleasant. Just entirely too intense and overpowering. Nice cologne. Must you marinate in it? I quickly checked in with the receptionist and then turned to find a seat in the small waiting room. The room has maybe a total of ten chairs in two rows, each row against a wall on either side of a large fireplace. There were two other people in the room, each one sitting in a different row of chairs, both of whom were sitting one chair in from the end of the row. Why is it people feel they must sit in a row of chairs in such a way that the next people that come along have nearly no way to maintain personal space and sit away from them? *sigh* I chose to sit on the end of one of the rows, closest to the fireplace since it was so cold outside, with one chair between myself and an older woman, probably around mid-70's, already seated. As I walked past her to get to my chosen seat and began to sit down, I realized the overpowering perfume bank was coming from her. Of course by that time it was too late to get up and move again without letting on that I was moving because of her for one reason or another, so I stayed put, tried to hold my breath and prepared to write out a list.

No sooner had I sat down, than the woman began talking. It took me a few seconds to realize she was talking to me. I turned to look at her and saw that the smell was not coming from her, but from the multitude of white perfume sample cards spread in her lap, piled in her hands and spread out on the chair between us. She must have had 50 of those cards. You know the kind. You walk through the banks of cosmetic counters in departments stores, and pick up these little white cards with the names of perfume on them. Then either you or the perfume people (as I choose to call the people working with the perfume samples) sprays the card with the scent named so that you can sample them without having 100 different perfumes sprayed on your clothes until the scent lines are literally and visibly wafting up from your body like they do from Pepe Le Pew.

As I turned to look at her, she reached out to me with her right hand, shoving a sample card directly in my face and under my nose. "I just can't decide. What do you think of this one?" She spoke to me as if we had been friends for years, and I had sat there specifically to help her choose some new perfume. I had no idea what to do, or what to say. Other than having perfume shoved in my face, the forwardness of this woman was a bit of a shock to say the least. But, I didn't want to be rude. So, I took the card from her, smelling it at a little bit further distance than shoved up against my nostrils, and told her I thought it was a nice smell. Truly, it wasn't bad. Not my taste, but then the perfume wasn't for me.

I thought this would put an end to our conversation. Instead, when I handed her back the card, she immediately shoved a second card in my hand. "What about this one?" I honestly couldn't hold back the grimace upon smelling the second card, and she chuckled, "No good, huh?" She continued to hand me sample cards, until the smells all began to mingle together in my nose, and I could no longer tell them apart. During this time we carried on a pleasant conversation, about the different scents, and what kinds of smells each of us preferred. She was quite a nice lady, and I got the impression she was just really lonely. I finally gave her my suggestion of which of the perfumes to chose for which she had samples. It was about that time that the hygienist came to the door to call my name, and I bid her goodbye. I walked to the back actually smiling about the experience I just had, my mood lightened considerably, and wondering once again how these things happen to me.

Little did I know that was just the beginning of my adventure at the dentist. I sat in the chair and endured the normal routine, answering all of the questions as best I could, with the exception of "how often do you floss?" This question I attempted to tactfully avoid, since somehow I don't think Jeff Foxworthy's answer of "When was the last time I flossed? Ummmm....YOU did it!" would be acceptable. As the hygienist flossed along, she came to one space between two of my molars where the floss suddenly snagged. On what, I had no idea, but I was sure I had had nothing sharp to eat recently. She managed to pull the floss free without causing me too much pain, only to find that the snagged floss had been utterly shredded. She exclaimed "what in the world is that?!?" and began examining my teeth with her face inches from mine, peering determinedly into my mouth. She came to the conclusion that one of my fillings must have a rough edge on it, and asked "is that one of ours?" Of course my answer was that I had no idea. I have so many fillings in my teeth from so many years of lots and lots of cavities that it's a wonder I don't set off the metal detectors at the Court daily just by walking within 15 feet of them. Of course all of those fillings had come from multiple dentists, and I have no idea which of those might be "theirs". She said she would inform the dentist that he needed to check that spot out closely, and finished flossing the rest of my teeth with a new string of minty floss, all the while telling me she couldn't believe how non-chalant I was being about that problem. She said it would have driven her nuts, and that would have been the first thing she ranted about upon stepping one foot through the door. I just smiled and said nothing, knowing that I couldn't very well tell her that I hadn't complained because I had no idea the problem existed.

Soon the dentist came to examine my xrays and my "problem spot". Luckily the determination was no cavities, and I could continue on with my regular dental routine. He then took a piece of floss and wedged it between my molors, extracting it with the same shredded result. He determined that one of my fillings had set with a rough edge that was catching the floss, he was going to need to sand it down. Um, wait a minute. Sand?!? He read the look on my face and told me not to worry, it wouldn't hurt a bit. He then told the hygienist to get him a piece of gold such-and-such a millimeter with a so-and-so grit something or other. All I heard was "grit". He was truly referring to sandpaper! The hygienist disappeared briefly, and reappeared with something that looked remarkably like Christmas tinsel, except it was gold. He slid the tinsel between my teeth and began to pull it back and forth like a two-handled lumberjack's saw. The result was something akin to the feeling of rubbing a real pearl against your teeth - not painful, but annoying to the point it would make you grit your teeth together. If I wasn't already laying there with my mouth wide open, I probably would've done just that. He only sawed away with the tinsel for a few minutes, and then once again tested the spot with the floss. The result: intact floss. Ta-da! My favorite part? I now get to tell people that I have had to have my teeth sanded!

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