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22 October 2013
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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