A trip to the dentist, featuring “tooth-colored” filling material and a few good bands

You know life is getting stressful when the prospect of multiple injections in your mouth followed by the replacement of every filling on two quadrant’s worth of teeth sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon.

To be fair, a part of that is my new-ish dentist, Dr. J and her hygienist, L.

Dr. J is young, beautiful and so fit that four months after having a baby, she looked like she’d never been pregnant. Her daughter is about six months old. The last time I was there, L had just gotten married and was getting ready to go on her honeymoon.

So we took care of the really important business first. I checked out the latest baby pictures, then got the skinny on L’s Dominican Republic honeymoon.

Four years ago, Dr. J bought the dental practice where Sweetheart has been going for decades. After listening to him talk about how good she was and wax poetic about all the high-tech equipment she used (a headlamp rather than an overhead light, and other tools that he said made his dental experiences much more interesting than they’d been when the previous dentist owned the practice), I thought about giving her a try.

But I wasn’t unhappy at the Big Dental Mill where I’d been going since finally having health benefits that included dental insurance. Then, Mom moved here and asked me to find her a dentist. So I took her to Dr. J.

She was deeply kind and welcoming, instantly putting Mom at ease. Dr. J shares what she’s seeing. She tells you what she knows about it and what she thinks should be done about it in a way leaves no doubt she understands you’ve got a bigger stake in this than she does. After all, those teeth are in your mouth, not hers!

She also appears to be a terrific boss, unless the camaraderie between she, her office manager L and L the Hygienist is just a really good act. (Doubtful.)

After my last cleaning, she said it would be a good idea to replace my fillings. She talked about how best to handle it (two appointments, one for the left side and one for the right) and had Office Manager L check to see what my insurance would approve.

LED_&_FillingToy
The LED light is for curing the filling once it’s in. The tool on the right is what Dr. J used to put the filling material in the tooth, and the lipstick rack-looking thing is the adhesive she put on the inside of the tooth before inserting the filling.

“You have really good insurance,” OML said. “Your co-pay will be $27.”

“That’s great!” I replied. “Sign me up!” Which, because it was January and the appointment was months off, I was all chirpy about.

So, today I showed up. After we got the baby and honeymoon news out of the way, Dr. J. spread some coconut-flavored numbing gel on the inside of my left cheek and the party started. She told me to wiggle my toes while she did the injection, and I sang while I wiggled and she injected. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t so evil. That numbing gel is great stuff.

Before she came at me with the second injection, I dragged out my ipad and threw on some music so I wouldn’t be singing alone.

While the numb-up took effect, we talked about the music on my i-pad (bands with local ties – The Violent Femmes, Garbage) and some from other places (Each Other).

Then I went looking for music to get your fillings swapped out to, eventually settling on Manhattan Transfer and Southern Culture on the Skids, because, why not?

She started. I felt pain. She stopped. Turned out she’d needled me with a normal dose of numb-up.

It wasn’t enough. So she fetched more coconut numbing gel, even though I was numb enough that it wouldn’t make a difference (it didn’t, but it smelled good). Two injections and five minutes later, any remaining feeling on the left side of my face was gone. If someone had told me they’d seen it out shopping or hanging at a bar while I was getting worked on, I’d’ve asked if it was having fun.

After drilling out the top filling (there was only one up there, and four on the bottom), Dr. J undertook a multi-step process to replace it. First, there was adhesive. Then, a “tooth-colored” filler (which made me think about “skin-colored” band-aids and that inside our mouths, we’re a lot closer to the same color).

BettyToy&A2ToothColoring
That’s the tooth-colored filling material. Dr. J used “A-2” for my teeth. A and B are for white teeth that are more orange or yellow cast. C and D are for white teeth with a more blue or gray cast. I thought the purple dental bib holder would make a great cat toy. I was sorely tempted to snatch it for our cat Betty. But I behaved myself.

She put the filler in and cured it using a tiny LED light. Then she took off the excess filler so I’d be able to bite normally. She repeated the process with the bottom teeth, and then it was over.

Several hours later, home with the numb-up all but worn off, it seems that at least one of my life plans is on-track – the one about dying with all my own teeth.

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