Sunday, December 11, 2022

Drowning in the Dentist's Chair

Phew! Dentistry and I have a fractious relationship, and it doesn't bode well when your dentist remarks that your lips and his drilling aren't getting on well together ...

I needed some dental 'contouring' (a euphemism if ever there was one, or rather a marketing ploy) to refine my Invisalign results - a previously comfortable crown was now too high, and getting in the way of my bite. I spent an hour having my senses assaulted to get this done. I 'consented' to holding my jaw open at its widest, had my lips retracted with a silicone device (at least this time, they applied Aquaphor first - without it, it feels as if your lips are going to split like a compromised sausage skin!) and endured a pair of blue nitrile-gloved hands, that smelled vaguely like chemical cat pee, invading my space. Ugh! 
"You dohwwwnnt esphect me to anshwer your kweshions, dsjoo you?"

I could see smoke and spray flying around my face in the illumination from the lamp as he drilled, on and on. The slurping, suctioning saliva ejector-operator was sitting on too low of a chair to be able to see the tidal pool of liquid accumulating at the back of my throat, and I thought "I wonder if anyone has ever drowned in a dentist's chair?" And all the while, the bug-eyed dentist was looking down at the terror in my eyes. 

He eventually acknowledged my struggle to breathe and swallow, and instructed his assistant to stand up so she could see what she was doing (or not doing, in this case). At least, I think that was what he said - there was so much noise in my head from all the machinery, that his muffled command through his face mask wasn't clear over the whining drill, saliva ejector or air compressor. I was just concentrating on not drowning.

It was an iterative process, and had to be repeated many times - bite, grind, chew, slide, hold, clamp down, open. Drill, suck, drill, spray, drill. Over and over again. I thought I'd have little nubs of teeth like a denuded, chewed corn cob after so much drilling. I was amazed to discover I still had a full set of teeth at the end of it all! 

It's amazing how scary the whole process is, how rigidly one's body responds to foreign objects being inserted into one's mouth when in a compromising position. My body couldn't help but clench with involuntary anxiety as power tools and appliances probed and vibrated through me, no matter how many times I tried to re-center and consciously relax.  

My jaw was aching and clicking when we decided to call it quits. I needed a break. I wanted to wash the burning keratin smells from my nostrils and shower the images of a bug-eyed dentist peering into my oral cavity out of my mind. I needed to unwind from the stiff tension that had automatically set in like rigor mortis during the hour-long ordeal. 

A repeat process is scheduled in two weeks to refine the refinements - stay tuned!

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