I never liked going to the dentist.
If I think back to my childhood, a dentist visit was never something to look forward to. While my friends Volker and Alex boasted teeth which were “naturgesund”, i.e. naturally healthy, I always had to worry whether that torturer in his white frack would drill a hole the size of a mid class sedan garage in my mouth or do other unspeakable things.
Not that I would admit I did not take good care of my teeth, of course. Rather, I have that distant memory of a birthday party at Stefanie Volz’s house (boy! – that’s really long ago) and that I had to leave for a dentist visit in the middle of it.
My mom was there, too, and we walked together to the dentist whose practice was just around the corner (Dr. Schwarz? – not sure anymore). As a matter of course that check-up was a disaster. Not sure what was done anymore, but that time I cried many hot tears on that big leathery chair. I also have a memory of the looks my mom gave me, having to bear with this little annoying sissy kid. And I do recall that I got one of those small, cheap plasticky toy dinosaurs at the end of the session, supposedly to help calm me down.
Back we went to the birthday party where my dinosaur was greeted with a big hello by the other children. And to give you an idea what a pretentious little brat I was back then, I said under the respectful murmur of the other kids:
Little Leo: Yeah, I got that at the dentist. You only get one when you are super good. And don’t cry.
The years might skew the memory, but I swear, my mom spit her coffee over the Volz’s kitchen floor. She maybe dropped her cup, too.
In the meantime I don’t pull stuff like this anymore at the dentist. So, frankly, I think it’s not fair I never got a plastic dinosaur again. That was not different today, of course. I’ve told you already that my upper left back molar has a crack and that I need a crown. I didn’t look forward to this. Not that I’m scared, but it’s not nice to think of somebody chipping off the denting of one of your teeth to make it into the male piece of a fitting for a steel crown with porcelain cover that is supposed to brace the ruins of what was once a fine tooth.
So, kids, word of advice: it’s not only important to properly brush your teeth (not too hard, though). Also, don’t be so stupid to use your teeth for opening bottles or unlock metal stuff or I don’t know what. That’ll result in a crack and thus a not so royal crown and maybe a root canal treatment, too. And while it’s not like the treatment is unbearable, there’s no reason to force it.
Right the. Let’s talk treatment. The dentist explained once more what she was going to do to my tooth, discussed the options of what crown I would pick and took an impression of my bite.
Leo: How long is this going to take?
Dentist: I’ll need roughly 40 minutes.
Gee: 40 minutes. But in fact, she got that wrong, as you’ll read in a bit. I got two injections to numb the tooth (for those of you who are scared of syringes, really not a big deal) and she got going. I wasn’t sure how fast or slow time passed. My whole existence just shrunk to me lying on a dentist seat, waiting. As always, the dentist was great and very concerned whether I was comfortable (I was not, but this was not because she had her hands and some stone carving gear in my mouth for what felt like forever, but because that fricking seat is not made for tall people like me – damn you, tiny Asians!).
And as always her assistant was crap. I’ve noticed this already all the other times I have been here and the one time at another dentist in Singapore: while the dentists are very qualified, their assistants do not seem to have a clue what’s going on. They don’t find things. They get the wrong stuff. They have no idea how to best place the plastic hose that draws saliva from your mouth. And they are likely to drip your spit all over your face when they pull it out.
So, after an undefined period of time where a rotating chisel danced its little dance, the carving work was apparently done and the doctor started to fit the temporary crown, which meant fine tuning of the crown and the tooth, which takes again a while.
Some more biting checks…
Dentist: Hum, you do have a deep bite!
… and some more impressions and I was done.
I checked the time. I had been in the seat for 90 minutes, more than double the time she thought it would take (which also explains the sour look on the face of the patient who came after me)!
I will be back in 2 weeks for a check-up. We will likely wait for 4 weeks before fitting the actual crown, because a crack is difficult to make out and it is not sure how deeply it advanced into the denting and towards the nerve. So latest after 4 weeks I should see signs whether the crack reaches to the nerve. In that case I will need to get a root canal treatment as well. If we place the final crown too early and it turns out I need to get a root canal, they need to drill through the steel cap of the crown. I’m not a dentist, but this sounds like a piece of work.
Leo: And how do I know that there’s a problem with the nerve?
Dentist: Easy. If you feel a constant throbbing pain after a while. Or when you wake up at night because of a sharp pain – then this is likely it.