Last month was the first time in more than 10 years that I had been to the dentist. Back then I began my series of visits after breaking a tooth on a tuna fish sandwich. I subjected myself to the dental care system, had a root canal to fix the damage caused by that sandwich, and eventually stopped going.
Why? Well, I wasn't entirely comfortable there. The dental care was okay, but there was something off about the environment. Sometimes I felt like they were selling me a used car. Other times, I just got this weird vibe that screamed "Russian Mob." I have no idea if they were connected, but eventually I trusted my instincts and stopped going, especially when they started pushing the idea of braces.
In the years since, I haven't needed dental care, though it may have been a good idea. It always planned to look for a dentist "next month." Months passed. Then years. And ultimately, a decade. Eventually, I ended up back in the chair.
Today was the second in a series of dental appointments in the current series. It was for a deep cleaning. Now, I don't recall ever getting this procedure done before, but then again, my last regular, every 6-month appointment dental care schedule was back during the thousand-points-of-light Bush administration so things may have changed.
So today I sat in the chair and got all novacained up for a deep cleaning. If you're not familiar with this process, it involves scraping under the gum line to get gunk out. Normally, they do only one half of the mouth at a time, but we decided to just do the whole thin today.
I spent an hour having some guy scrape my teeth with little metal tools. And though I felt like I was choking once or twice, it wasn't too bad. Though it did give rise to this dialog:
Me: I'm starting the taste a little blood.
Dentist: Just now?!
While the whole thing was going on, my mind tried to wander a bit. I layed back in the chair and looked up at the spot light. I wore orange sunglasses so it wasn't too bright. The shop light reminded me of the sunset and I tried to transfer myself to the beach through that sun so I would't be terribly bored, but it wasn't that easy.
It seems you can't just ignore the guy poking around your mouth with metal implements, hoses, and a suction tool. The scraping is loud as it echoes through the skull, bypassing the ears altogether. And the the tools slip, which is always a little jarring. I also had to frequently remind my self to relax my muscles, not drive my fingertips through the chair too hard, and breath through my nose.
My higher brain functions were perfectly okay with the whole process, but the lizard core deep in the evolutionary recesses of my brain, screamed, "AHHHHHH!!!!! Run AWAAAAAYYYYYY!" If I let down my guard, that part of my brain would start to gain more influence over the situation, and there is no way a Fight or Flight response could have ended well.
Now, I've got clean teeth, an aching jaw, and sore spots where the Novocaine needles had been plunged in and moved around like tiny liposuction hoses.
And for some reason, I'm willingly going back next week.
But those glasses sure made my phone easier to read.