A funny thing happened on the way to the dentist


I have dental phobia.  It’s something I gained this past year.  YAY 2009!

It all started last March when I had my first check-up in years.  I didn’t think that my teeth were perfect by any means but I was floored when the dentist said, “Do you want to save your teeth?”  I rationalized that he was speaking only of one wisdom tooth which was broken.  He had an overbearing quality and his tone did not help my feelings.  He couldn’t believe I didn’t have pain.  He ignored my comment that occasional minor sensitivity was related to sinus drainage.

I had to cancel my follow-up and when I returned in August I was nervous but not so much because we had already gotten the embarrassing part out of the way.  But then, as if March had never happened we repeat the earlier conversation including the awful, “Do you want to save your teeth” part.   I was already livid and livid is not something I am very routinely.  I had called Donna back into the room while waiting and suggested we leave.  He had the hygienist bring me a scrip and a new work-up for the damages.  It had been 9 fillings and/or repairs.  It jumped to 12.  I had come in expecting to get some work done but ended up just scheduling a new appointment.

I vowed to never return.  In October, I had my first meeting with the only other option in town.  The first dentist has a shiny office and staff ready to be filmed for commercial at any moment.  The second office looked like something the health department forgot to shut down or a place where you’d go to get your back-alley tooth extraction.  I went and the lady was exceptionally nice and didn’t make me feel like mountain folk.  I told her I had a lot of problems and about what had happened with the other guy.  She assured me that she’d take good care of me.  I believed her and exhaled a giant sigh of relief.

I still needed some work but her estimation seemed a bit more cost-conscious.  That’s because she doesn’t have to pay for ad space.  My follow-up was scheduled for December.  Similar to the previous experience, I went in braced for pain and discomfort.  I thought I was getting  a crown.  She asked me to reschedule because she hadn’t blocked enough time for a crown.  At check-out I protested paying the office visit.  The clerk explained the policy but said, “I’ll let it slide.”

Right before Christmas I had 2 temporary crowns put in.  During the op, she had mentioned that back wisdom tooth and that she was going to try to “save it.”  She assured me once more even telling me how she had gone the weekend prior to have crown-work done herself.  I suffered through Christmas dinner with a tube of Fixodent on the ready as the front one popped out every couple days.  I feared swallowing it in my sleep.  After the first of the year and another reschedule (they told me “everything’s froze up”) I got the permanent crowns.  That was a joyous event!  She requested I come back in for the other tooth.

So long as we’ve been going here, they’re only open one or two days a week. They don’t have an answering service and usually it takes them a week to call back.  Last night we decided we needed to reschedule.  If ever I call out of work or miss an appointment, I like to phone the night before so that I don’t have to speak to anyone.  At 2:37 I looked them up, dialed the digits, and after 2 rings on the other end was a sleepy, yet friendly, male voice.

I said, “Sorry. Wrong Number.”   Determined to dial correctly I double-checked the listing.  I entered the buttons slowly believing the late hour at fault for my previous misfire.  I declared, “If he answers again, I’m just going to hang up.”

The same voice answered.  The same, confused yet familiar, voice was on the other end.  Click.

I resolved to try again in the morning.  There was the thought that maybe they were being robbed but I went to sleep.

When I called at 8:30 this morning, I expected the voice mail to pick up.  My dentist answered.  I told her I needed to cancel and make a new appointment.  She explained that the office phone is redirected to her home and that she didn’t have her schedule book to look at.

The tone in her voice indicated she found something humorous.  It wasn’t the wrong number.  It was her home and that familiar voice?  He was the young man who works in her office, who I assume is her son.

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