Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Guide to Los Angeles vol. 2--Downtown Dentistry

So, another thing I'm going to majorly miss about Los Angeles upon my upcoming departure is...

My dentist. I went for my last cleaning at his office today.

Those who know me are well-aware of my phobias of all things medical. On the upside, my denial that I am ever in need of serious medical attention means I am whatever the opposite of a hypochondriac is (A hyperchondriac? No. But in researching that, I learned of a condition called cyberchondria—a term for individuals who compulsively research medical conditions on the Internet. I know more than one person with this problem. I am sure they are all researching it online right now to figure out if I am talking about them. Yes.) On the downside, it means that my car is more regularly maintained than my body. And for those of you who have seen my car, well….

So why then do I love my dentist? I used to hate dentists due to their propensity for sticking sharp needles and small power tools in my mouth. Then one morning in early 2007 I was innocently attending to my own oral care with a water pick (I’m a big fan) when I accidentally flushed out half a molar. I was horrified. And in a great deal of pain. Still, I went to work because we were having a particularly crazy week and, once there, several of the staff members recommended a dentist with a downtown office a few blocks away. I went in sans appointment and he sat me down, explained that it wasn’t my tooth that washed away so much as a childhood filling that had become useless, and proceeded to give me my one and only root canal. It was not as bad as I was expecting. And he and his staff seemed like super-nice people, not dental drones. Also, they have good magazines and fun pictures in their office of somebody’s children with Tye Pennington. Over the next few weeks they took my X-rays, replaced my other bad fillings, and worked out a master plan for giving me a gleaming new smile that was going to cost as much as two Vespas because insurance refuses to cover a thing.

I do not yet have that gleaming smile. Why not? I assure you it is not because I bought two Vespas instead. Rather, it is because my new dentist was like the general contractor of my mouth remodel and he was subcontracting some of the heavy work (i.e., oral surgery) to specialists. I went and “consulted” with the specialists. They were nice but not as nice. They didn’t have any fun pictures or magazines—mostly brochures about how to get gleaming smiles that included vomit-inducing “before” pictures. Also, their office smelled like old people. Probably because the thing they specialize in is most attractive to the older crowd. And okay, to prevent you from thinking the worst, I will just say that thing is dental implants. I’m upgrading from an old-school bridge. It’s not my fault, I have a congenital defect in that I was born without a full set of teeth—hence, my utter horror at losing another one to the water pick. On the plus side, my desire to hang on to all the natural teeth I do have has prevented me from ever doing meth.

So I went to the specialist but I never went back. My inaction was the result of a cosmic collision of all of my worst psychological disorders, including medical phobias and mass procrastination and poor time management and denial and fear of looking deformed like I did after I got my wisdom teeth pulled and fear of asking people, even dear friends who owe me favors, to drive me clear across town and wait around during the procedure. And every six months I would show up at the regular dentist for my cleaning and he would lovingly chide me for putting it off yet again and offer to mail postcard reminders or check in on me and then send me on my way with a new toothbrush and the cutest little container of floss that looks kind of like a bottle cap.

So today at my final appointment I had to promise to get all that work done once I relocated. And I’m blogging about it here to solidify that promise. Still, I’m already wringing my hands at the thought of adjusting to a new dentist. If you are in L.A. and want to know who he is, just send me an email.

By the way, I still use my water pick. But now I hold my teeth in while I do it. The whole process pretty much floods my bathroom. I wouldn’t recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. OK, so my favorite story is of when you had your wisdom teeth out and yet oddly decided to join the family on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Your jaw was rather swollen, but as family members (+ Hilari who qualified as a family member) we were obligated not to make fun of you (that you would hear.) But at one point the small child of some unknown tourists pointed to you and said, "How come your mouth is so big?" to which you promptly replied ...

    "I just ate a small child and I haven't swallowed him yet."

    So glad to see you have loosened up with the dental issues.