Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Report from the Dentist: I'm the picture of perfect health!

Actually, he walked in and introduced himself after the x-ray session and said, "So, you're the picture of perfect health, eh?" I wasn't sure what he was referring to. Seems he thought I was boasting when I didn't put down any allergies or pre-existing conditions on the first-timer form. So I said yes, and he proceeded with the examination.

I have two tiny, nearly insignificant cavities. "No big deal," the man said. Then he said, and I'm not kidding, "We don't get a lot of patients like you in here."

"What do you mean, Dr.?"

"All those teeth!"

I have extra teeth. It's a big mouth. You should see the size of my tongue. Anyway, I put down that I brush my teeth twice a day on the form, but the truth is I only brush them once a day -I know, shame on me- so I was surprised to hear that I didn't have any major cavities in 6 years of not going to the dentist. Mrs. Ditchman and I fully believe that the toothpaste we use has a lot to do with it. (We've always used this, in case you're wondering.) The Doctor was dismayed that I didn't floss, however. He showed me the x-rays and explained my dismal dental future if I didn't start now. I explained that I always had trouble getting the floss between some of those crowns and tightly fitting teeth.

So he said, "You're a contractor, you'll appreciate this tool." And he brought out one of these. "You can get them at Target. Fifteen bucks. Battery included. Better than flossing. Don't know why everyone doesn't use them." Then he said, "Or you could use this." He handed me an old pipe cleaner and deadpanned: "Appalachian dental floss." I laughed all the way to Target.

He's a good dentist! I like him. He came in with a whole comedy routine, clearly rehearsed, and wanted to know a little about me. After his analysis of my mouth, he handed me a mirror and told me to open wide so he could explain my teeth to me. It was very helpful and unexpectedly enlightening to have someone scrutinize and elucidate my mouth in articulate, reverent tones. I found it fascinating.

I have a minor problem with a broken wisdom tooth (mandibular third molar #17) and some of the gum around it. He said I have two options. Option #1 involves a year or so of gum and tooth reconstructive surgery -carving away the flesh and restructuring some of the tendons in my mouth, along with a goodly amount of grinding down and rebuilding of the tooth. It would be quite a remodel. The cost would be in the tens of thousands with chances of success at 80%. Option #2? Yank it.

I said I'd think about it.

His name is Gerald F. Moore and he's in Vista. Doctor Jerry. He didn't try to push any unnecessary appointments on me. He's old school and he has a nice office. A sign above one of the dental chairs reads, in all capital letters, "RELAX!" which I found amusing with its exclamation point.

Mandibular third molar #17:

If they pull it, I'm going to ask to keep it.