There are a few things that make me instantly nervous and raise my blood pressure. I get nervous about the existential threat of global thermonuclear war. I get nervous when Mrs. Kitchen starts a sentence with “Honeeeyy…” I get nervous when I hear that Justin Bieber is about to release a new album. I even get nervous when the dog starts to drag his butt across the carpet.
I also get nervous when I know that I need dental work, which I learned the other day when I bit into a slice of pizza. The same sort of thing happened to me many years ago while eating mashed potatoes. There I was, chewing along merrily on a mouthful of Idaho’s finest when CRUNCH… I broke a tooth. I never learn that I need dental work when I’m eating granola or a piece of hard candy, or even when I’m hit in the face by a line drive. Noooo… my teeth call it quits on soft, inoffensive foods like mashed potatoes or a slice of pizza with extra cheese.
One trip to the dentist later, and I learned that “You have a cavity on that back molar. We can fit you for a crown.” When they told me how much that would cost, I realized that it was exactly twice as expensive as the first car I ever bought. It’s a little difficult to justify dental work the size of my pinky nail when I can buy two 1980 Pontiac Grands Prix for the same price, so I politely (yet firmly) asked for Option Two. I got a referral to an oral surgeon to have the tooth pulled out instead.
Expecting to find something like Prince Humperdink’s torture lair in The Princess Bride, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the surgeon’s office had a flat screen TV, comfortable chairs, a “Please Pardon Our Mess – We’re Remodeling” sign, and the distant aroma of sandalwood Glade air freshener and freshly cut drywall. I was whisked to the far back corner room (in jail, no one can hear you scream), and instantly swabbed down with some sort of gel that smelled like a breath mint but tasted like a peppermint urinal cake. Thankfully it numbed my tongue as well as my cheek and gums.
After 20 minutes of witty banter, the doctor came in with four needles the size of a blow dart gun and started injecting the Novocain. He told me that the urinal cake gel was supposed to numb me enough to not feel the needles, but when they go all the way through your jaw and inject you in the hip, you’re bound to feel something. After a few tears (mine, not his) and some minor cursing (his, not mine), then the real work began.
With the amount of time and money that’s spent on getting a degree in oral surgery, you’d think that there’s a class somewhere that explains the mechanics of talking, and how people can’t hold a conversation when they have enough hardware in their mouths to keep Home Depot in business for a month. But I digress… The conversation went something like:
“You don’t need to hold your mouth all the way open. I can do what I need to do without you getting a jaw cramp.”
“Ahh kank hek it, Hock. Hurr skankin’ on gai gaw.”
(Climbing down) “What did you say?”
“I can’t help it, Doc. You’re standing on my jaw.”
After 45 minutes of pushing and pulling, 17 dental instruments, 6 pints of water and suction, 3 Hail Mary’s, and 1 broken and extracted molar , I can safely say that I’m now the owner of a hole in the back of my mouth the size of a Moon Pie. When I was a kid and got my tonsils removed, they gave me all the ice cream I could eat. When I got a molar removed as an adult, I got a hunk of used washcloth shoved in my mouth to sop up the blood and a bill for my trouble.
I’m starting a petition to create a law mandating all the ice cream you can eat after a dental procedure. You laugh now, but one day you’ll thank me.
Shawn Kitchen, Editor-At-Large
Shawn is an avid motorcycle rider and enthusiast. He is also the former Editor-At-Large for RC Heli Magazine.