I recently cracked a filling that sits between 2 of the molars on my right side, lower jaw. I don’t know how I did it, but apparently these “composite” fillings have a lifespan and my filling used its up. I didn’t really know until I went to the dentist for my cleaning and I was about to say “I’ve been feeling little twinges” and he said “you cracked this filling”. So. Ok. He recommended a gold replacement, which I am going to get even though insurance will pretty much only pay for (basically) parking.The reason I'm getting the gold one is because he said "you might never need to have any work done on this area again". Sign me up.
I like my dentist. We’ve been working together on good oral hygiene for about 13 years. Most of my friends have this dentist too. He’s a good dentist. His initials would make for part of a good scrabulous hand (TQLY). That said, there was one time I did him a favor that has forever changed the way I feel about going to the dentist. I used to not mind it; going in to have a filling replaced. I didn’t mind, but now I do. I mind it very much.
There was this one time in college (aka “the time of the desperately poor”) that I got a cavity. It was in the lower part of my jaw between 2 of the molars on my right side. I went to see TQLY. He said he could fix it easily but he had a friend who needed to pass his dentist exam practicum and, well, darned if my cavity was not the shining example that would help propel this soon-to-be dentist (and personal friend of TQLY) to heights of dental exam greatness. Oh yeah, and he would do it for free. (He was supposedly a dentist in another state but had to take the HI test to get his state license...something like that).
Was I so needy for approval that I was flattered to be recommended for free amateur dental work? Apparently.
Anyway, I woke early on a Saturday and drove myself to the testing center. It looked innocent enough; a low one-story building, a pretty day, a girl in a parking lot. Inside were several small curtained off rooms for the dentists taking their exams and judge dentists were walking around in their lab coats with their clip boards ready to look into mouths and make judgments on style, color matching, and I don’t know what else.
Funny thing about most of this day is that I recall only flashes and mumbling, like you know when you have a nightmare and then wake up and the scenes are flashing by really fast in your head? Like that. I met the future dentist and he seemed decent. I remember thinking that he didn’t smell like alcohol so probably hadn’t been out drinking the night before. I probably had.
So I sat in the chair and it began. The judges were there watching and the deal was that after every step they evaluated whatever the step was, swab, judge, drill, judge, fill, judge, etc. Piece of cake, right? First the Novocain shots into the cheek ; 3 of them. Then, the drilling. I think this took a while because I remember the judges coming by several times and there being a kind of general unease in the air. Next, the filling- what could be simpler for a dentist?????- only he had forgotten a crucial component so the judges said: “Do It Over”. And so he had to drill out the new filling and do it again.
And again. For a total of three times. The same filling.
At this point I had been nearly upside down for hours because the judges kept coming by to evaluate. Also, I’d had several more Novocain shots and was weak and hungry. I remember the multiple attempts to fill the cavity, the judges, walking out of the building as the sun was setting and sitting in my car crying. I had been in there for 10 hours with my mouth propped open. I don’t know if this guy passed and I don’t care.
The rest was a mess- a visiting friend didn’t believe that I had been held hostage by a team of dentists- thought I was just avoiding him. My whole head ached for days.
I had to go back to TQLY to get the filling fixed(!). After he heard the story he was smart enough to do it for free and I involuntarily cried, tears streaming out of my eyes, white knuckle fists the entire time. My behavior has improved, slightly. I sit in mini-panic mode with my eyes closed, headphones on, and wait for him to tap on my shoulder if he needs me to do something.