Warning: The following post contains absolutely no technical terms. I know nothing of the mysterious yet extremely useful world of dentistry, so I’m sorry.
In the past year, I’ve had about 20 dentist appointments. This extended exposure to excavators and bibs was caused by many different factors: firstly, some weakness in my genes that makes my teeth more delicate than most people’s teeth; secondly, my own obsession with candy and Coca-Cola, which doesn’t contribute to dental health; and lastly, a frankly disastrous history with an old dentist whose fillings consistently fell out within days of being installed.
One could say that very little enjoyment can be found in having one’s root canal uprooted and then redone, having one’s tooth chipped away almost entirely and replacing about eight different fillings, but I leave my career as a serial dentist-patient with the satisfaction of knowing that I made the most of my time there.
I guess I never asked these questions before because my appointments were so few and so far between that I always felt strange speaking my mind to a stranger with sharp tools dangerously near to my tongue. But knowing that I would be subject to the same routine over and over again during the months of making my teeth healthy again, I dismissed my feelings of awkwardness and made sure to ask all the questions I’d ever had about what it’s like to be one of the brave explorers of a weird, saliva-filled world. Here are some of the answers.
- Do dentists get cavities? Where do dentists go when they get a cavity?
Well, yes. I’m sure it’s embarrassing, but they do. And apparently they pick one of their favorite colleagues and go to them, and pray that all their other dentist friends don’t get offended when they pick who they think is the best at their job. Also, sometimes they get a discount!
- Why aren’t there mirrors just overhead so that the patient can actually see what’s going on in their mouths?
I originally thought the answer to this one would be something like “Because they would faint”, or “Because they would panic”, but it turned out to be more like “Because I did try it and patients would just spend the whole time craning their necks to get a good angle, and it got in the way of work.”To be honest, I was just glad that someone had thought of doing that and actually implemented it. I kind of wish I’d still been there during the experimenting period, though, because the most I got to see of what was happening was the reflection on my dentist’s glasses (which was kind of impressive — as it turns out, root canal uprootings are quite bloody).
- “Has anyone ever bitten you?”
“Yes.” [spoken grimly]
- But do we really have to brush our teeth three times a day? Like, what about people with no access to tooth brushes? Do their teeth just fall out?
One of my dentists (the coolest one, who played music in Spanish during his practice because the nurses were Argentinian and it made them happy), told me a story about a guy who had never brushed his teeth. That patient was in his fifties. And apparently his teeth were in better shape than any patient my dentist had ever had. In the end it all comes down to a weird mix of genes and eating habits, and it seems that I missed out on all the good parts of those.
- “Is it really awkward if I fall asleep on the dentist chair while you’re working on my teeth?”
“No, it’s actually easier for me. You just have to keep your mouth open.”
- But what if instead of dealing with all of these tooth problems, I just knock out all my teeth and wear dentures instead?
My dentist just stared at me with a horrified look on her face. I think she thought I was serious. (I kind of was, but I reconsidered after seeing her expression.)
- The whole issue of how anesthesia takes so long to kick in but by the time it does you’re already halfway through having them drill into your mouth.
Your dentist should wait until your mouth is numb. Make them wait. In the meantime they can use that period of time to explain exactly what they plan on doing to your mouth and give you tips on staying healthy (and answer your weird questions).
- DOES MY MOUTH LOOK WEIRD AFTER THE ANESTHESIA?
No, it really, really doesn’t.
The Malfoy Case, my courtroom drama and Drastoria fic is at Chapter 24 (ending soon!).
The Tisroc and the King, a Narnia AU where Aravis and Shasta never met, and full of Archenland and Calormene politics, is at Chapter 3.
Save is an extremely short one-shot about Oliver Wood’s first Quidditch game.
(AO3 links are available here)
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, good luck! I’m sure you’ll nail it! I’ll be engaging in some word sprints throughout the month (mostly active through my twitter), but I’m not officially doing it this year… there’s too much going on to be able to fully commit to a new novel.
Please leave a comment below to share your novel, fanfic or dentistry woes!