Sunday 6 November 2022

Dentist Stories

One sunny summery Sunday afternoon, I was returning from my home town after a weekend visit.  I had the top down on my MG, and I was motoring down the highway with the wind in my face.  The cap I had on one of my front teeth had been starting to loosen for some reason, but as drove back to Indianapolis, I was too wrapped up in the immediate pleasures of music coming from the radio, and the sunshine on my face, to give much thought to my tooth.

Suddenly, I experienced an overwhelming urge to sneeze, and when it exploded, the cap from my tooth shot out of my mouth, clearing the windshield, then as it hit the wind streaming over the windscreen, made a U-turn and was carried over my shoulder, disappearing forever somewhere down the highway.

The next day at work, keeping my mouth closed as much as possible, I discovered that because of my low income level, I was eligible to get dental work done at the Indiana University Dental School in Indianapolis.  There they fixed me up with a temporary cap, and scheduled me for weeks and weeks of future appointments.  It seemed I had a mouth that offered lots of opportunity for learning dentists.

Having been used to small intimate dental offices, it was strange to sit in a large room, full of people in rows and rows of dental chairs, while an army of dentists-to-be walked around peering into all of the open mouths.  It was also a bit disconcerting to know that the dentist working on me was the same age as I was.  One of the student dentists there was even a high school classmate of mine.

On one of my visits, after giving me a shot of Novocaine, my student dentist had to go and get a supervisor, before going to work on me.  I sat there and sat there, waiting and waiting.  I looked around, I waited, then I waited some more.  Finally, he returned with the supervisor, explaining to him how he was going to proceed.  Once his explanation was over and he had gotten the okay, he began to grind away.  Unfortunately for me, by the time he finally began, the novocaine I had been given, had started to wear off.  After some violent twisting in the chair, and some jerks of pain, thankfully, my student dentist figured out why I was reacting the way I was, and gave me another shot before continuing.

Another dental moment that I found a bit embarrassing, happened when the supervisor who had come over to check on the work that was being done on me, noticed a squirting gland in my mouth.  To my chagrin, he called out to the whole room, full of young dentists, to come over and take a look at my squirting gland.  So I had to sit there with my mouth open, while the whole group of dental students took their turn gawking at my over stimulated gland.

Although, I realized that I was getting a lot of good dental care for cheap, after week upon week of tightly gripping the dentist chair and listening to the whirr of the drill, the experience was beginning to get a little old.  I was greatly relieved once all the work in my mouth was complete.  Because the students had to get experience doing all kind of fillings, I had one cavity filled with gold foil.  For years, afterwards, whenever I went to a dentist, he would look into my mouth with surprise, and say, “Wow, you have a gold foil.” and I would have to tell the story of my contribution to future dentistry.

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