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Dental cleaning and words of ‘wisdom’

Severo Avila

Severo Avila is Features Editor at the Rome News-Tribune.

In a few days I have my first dental appointment of 2017.

It’s just for a cleaning but y’all might be aware that I’m DEATHLY afraid of going to the dentist, a trait I inherited from my mother.

Here’s how this appointment will pan out. I’ll go in for my cleaning and upon greeting my hygienist, I’ll request nitrous oxide which is the sedative they administer through a little mask to help you relax during dental procedures. Some people call it laughing gas.

I will be denied nitrous seeing as how it’s just a cleaning and not some invasive procedure. This is probably for the best since I believe you have to pay extra for it. I’m sure my hygienist rolls her eyes every time she sees my name in her appointment book because it’ll be like having a 5-year-old child in the chair. I squirm and cry and usually have to be pacified with a shiny object.

She’ll clean my teeth, asking questions the entire time even though my mouth is wide open with several utensils in there and I can’t answer properly. But I imagine that, like parents who can understand what their toddlers are saying even when no one else can, she can decipher my gutteral clicks and coughs and we somehow manage to carry on quite the conversation even though I can’t pronounce a single consonant with my mouth propped open like that.

The worst part about the whole thing will be when she flosses my teeth. I hate that part. She’ll ask if I’ve been flossing regularly and I’ll lie and say yes. Then she’ll proceed to floss me which to a normal person is, I’m sure, not bad at all but to me feels like she’s taking a hack saw to my gums.

The best part about a cleaning is when she uses a little tool that has a tiny rubber end. I think she puts some sort of chalky fluoride on it and runs it all over my teeth and gums and it tickles and sort of massages my mouth and it feels amazing. I could fall asleep with her doing this. This makes up for the no nitrous thing.

At the end of the cleaning, my hygienist will leave the room to go fetch Dr. Rush, my dentist. Now for all the years I’ve been seeing Dr. Rush we’ve developed a great relationship in which I lie to him constantly and he pretends to believe me.

He is there at the end of the cleaning to make sure my teeth are healthy and don’t need anything done to them. He’ll look around in my mouth and press down on my teeth and ask me several questions about which I will be completely dishonest.

And then it begins — our age-old dance — rehearsed time and again over the last few years.

Dr. Rush will remind me for the umpteenth time that my wisdom teeth will need to be pulled soon. I will ask HOW soon and he’ll say it’s not an emergency but he would really recommend that they be pulled sooner rather than later so that they don’t become impacted and lead to a more serious condition.

I’ll then tell him that I will seriously consider it this time.

Bless his heart. He looks so hopeful and full of joy when I say I’ll “seriously consider it” that I don’t have the heart to tell him that it’ll never happen. Not willingly. It’ll take a dang court order to get me to do it. I have three main reasons:

1. I’m petrified of the procedure itself. As I understand it, they slice open your gums and physically yank out the teeth that are ATTACHED TO MY SKULL. If they were meant to come out, they’d just fall out. My plan is to hold out so long that by the time it becomes an emergency, medical technology will have advanced to where they can just use a laser to painlessly disintegrate the teeth.

2. I don’t want to be in pain for days after the procedure. I believe your mouth is swollen after and you have to take drugs to keep the pain at bay while you heal. I ain’t layin’ up in bed with a swollen jaw eating pureed carrots for two days.

3. Now this is the main reason — I can’t bear the thought of being so hopped up on pain meds that I can’t control what I’m saying. I’ve seen those Internet videos where people get their wisdom teeth pulled and then on the car ride home, they say the most embarrassing things. They confess things and cry and generally make complete fools of themselves. There’s no one I trust enough to drive me home in this condition and not reveal the things I know I’ll say.

So there you have it. That’s what my first dentist visit of the new year will be like. Say a prayer for me and one for Dr. Rush. The dance goes on.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.