Every six months, I go to the dentist. And every six months, I’m told that something is wrong with my teeth. I realize this makes me sound like I chomp on taffy and chewing tobacco all day long and brush maybe once a month. On the contrary, I brush three times a day. Floss once, sometimes twice, a day. I can go through an entire bottle of Listerine in under a week. Doesn’t matter what I do. My teeth suck. I blame my parents. My dad has apologized multiple times for our defective genes.

I recently was back in the chair for a new and fascinating procedure: crowns. The first thing I do when I sit down? Listen to what song is playing in the background. I use it as a gauge of how the visit will go. Celine Dion? Not good. Fleetwood Mac? Sweet. This time around? “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper. I couldn’t believe it. The Goonies is my absolute favorite movie of all time! Maybe this meant there had been some sort of miracle. Maybe the dentist will peer into my mouth and proclaim that my teeth are perfect.

No. Instead she began numbing the wrong side of my mouth.

We got that little oversight corrected and then got down to business. After two shots and twenty minutes, the dentist picked up her drill. It was go time. First, though, are those initial moments of torture when you might be finding out the hard way that the novocaine hasn’t truly kicked in yet. The nauseating scent of tooth dust begins to fill the air while you silently pray that the pain of raw nerve exposed doesn’t start shooting through your entire body.

My favorite dentist comment? “Just relax and let me know if you feel any discomfort.” I love this line because it’s the stupidest statement of all time. Just relax? Sure. I feel very relaxed while you have a dangerous metal object in my mouth that’s quickly boring a hole into my head. Am I feeling discomfort? A smidge. Having my head gently wedged against your rumbling stomach is just a tad discomforting to me.

Then there’s the (I feel very rational) fear of the drill slipping and whoops! Now there’s a gaping hole in my cheek. And no matter how many times the assistant uses that sucking thingamajig to save me from choking on my own spit, I still feel the need to swallow every thirty seconds. Hence my little own little game of Russian roulette as I try to time my movements with her momentary drilling pauses.

At least I wasn’t the guy next door, though. At one point, I overheard the dental hygienist saying to him, “See that hole there? That should be bone. If the bacteria in that hole goes into your bloodstream, you can die.” Dang. Maybe I didn’t have it so bad after all.

In the meantime, while the whole left side of my mouth was well numbed, didn’t mean I still couldn’t feel my cheek ripping apart as the dentist pulled and pulled and pulled some more to get a good view of those bum molars. I definitely could sense my nose slowly migrating to the left side of my face. I really thought I would walk out of that place looking like a wannabe Picasso.

Two and a half hours and one repetition of “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” later, I was done for the day. Oddly enough, it did end on a high note. First, she fitted me with these ghetto fabulous temp silver crowns that suddenly gave me the street cred I’d been searching for my whole life. Then before walking away, she patted me on the head and told me that I was “the perfect patient.” Yes, The Perfect Patient, folks. I’m not too proud to admit I was silently thrilled to hear that. I’ll take compliments anytime, anywhere. Even in the dentist’s chair.

Epilogue: I now hate my dentist. Biggest mistake ever? Telling her I have a cold when arriving two weeks later to have my permanent crowns fitted. Either because it’s not the best idea to shoot someone up with novocaine when on cold meds, or just because she’s the devil, my dentist decided to put on my crowns without numbing ANYTHING. I felt like one of those Civil War soldiers who were forced to have a leg amputated without any anesthesia. Not the same thing you say? I beg to differ.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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