Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Look, Ma

Remember that old commercial?  "Look, Ma, no cavities!"

Oh right.  "Look, Ma" isn't the right title for this entry.  I have a cavity.  A baby cavity.  But a need-to-be-filled hole in my mouth anyway. 

I knew I had it.  I've been feeling "something" for the last week and figured it was probably a cavity, but knew that I had a cleaning appointment coming up and figured it could wait that long.

I love my dentist.  Seriously.  I love going to the office.

A long time ago, before I had "readers," I recounted my dental history, which included being yelled at for not flossing, and being so humiliated that I decided never again to go to the dentist (which was a lot easier than flossing, of course!).  I come by this attitude naturally, since I am the daughter of a mother who a few years back decided that she didn't like the sales pitch of her dentist and that at her age, she didn't need a dentist and would never go again.  So far she has not.   I hope she doesn't get serious problems.

I met Cindy, my dentist, when she first arrived in Davis, a new graduate of her dental program, and was trying to set up her practice.  She was working in another dentist's office and to make money while she was establishing a practice, she worked in the typing service where I worked.  It was a small office and all of us became good friends.  

We got together frequently for social events, and I always arranged that I sat at the other end of the dinner table from Cindy.  By that time I had broken back teeth, halitosis, and lots of plaque.  I didn't want her to notice. I couldn't chew and learned how to eat using the roof of my mouth to grind the food. I had given up things like corn on the cob, apples, spareribs and anything that needed to be bitten with the front teeth. Also at that time I went through periods of such pain it would keep me awake all night, but I still refused to see a dentist, because I figured I had destroyed my mouth and to repair it would cost too much money.  Walt never said a word about my not going to the dentist.

Anyway, I reached a point where I thought my front teeth were about to fall out and couldn't bring myself to call Cindy (who by this time had her own office), so sent her a letter to confess my dental mis-deeds.  She called and asked if I wanted an appointment.  By the time I was working for Sutter and had dental insurance.  Good thing or I would now be toothless.

The day of the appointment, I was a total wreck.  I couldn't tell anybody I was going, but because I was convinced that I would return home missing several front teeth, I left a note for both my boss and Walt warning them of what it would be like when I returned...and then went to see Cindy.

Bless her, she scheduled me for the last appointment of the day, so I was the only patient still in the office, and you could not ask for a kinder, more gentle touch.  I learned, for one thing, that dentistry had advanced a lot in the 20+ years since my last apointment.  For one thing, it was now pretty much painless.

As it turned out, my self-diagnosis was wrong.  I was not going to lose my teeth, though I had the biggest plaque deposit Cindy had ever seen.   She told me years later that she was sorry she had not taken a picture of it because it was certain to be published in some dental journal.  But she didn't want to make me uncomfortable.

Over the next several months, I put at least two of her three daughters through college, but fortunately the dental insurance paid for a big chunk of it.  By the time my mouth was up and functioning, I was leaving Sutter and losing my dental insurance again.  Perfect timing.

I now see Cindy and her hygienist, Christina, three times a year for cleaning.  I'm still not religious about brushing and flossing, but between us--and having those frequent appointments, my teeth are in relatively good shape, except for the baby cavity.

As I said early in this entry, I love going to the office.  The staff is strictly female.  I don't know if that's deliberate, or coincidence.   The atmosphere is like going to a beauty parlor, with the radio playing, interesting posters on the ceiling and paintings on the walls.  You sit in a chair that has a wonderful view of the lawn outside the office.  

As the hygienists work, there is chit chat back and forth and just a very friendly feeling.  When there is more major work to be done, the patients are taken to the back office, where Cindy holds court.  I actually enjoy when I have more work to be done because it gives Cindy and me a chance to get caught up on what is happening with our families.

In my biking days, she and I used to ride about 10 miles around Davis nearly every morning.  Hot or cold, she would be there with her bike and I would drag my body out into the morning air and follow her out into the country and around town.   It was really a special time and I did all of my best biking during those days.   I don't miss going out on a cold winter morning and riding 10 miles, but I do miss the camaraderie we had at that time.

Now our camaraderie comes over crowns and other dental paraphernalia.   But I don't dread it.  I look forward to it.

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