So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing.
1 Peter 1:13
Yesterday marked a milestone in my life, but not one I’m thrilled to commemorate: I had my first cavity filled.
All these years, I go to the dentist every 6 months, they look in my mouth, exclaim over how lovely my teeth are, clean them, and send me on my way. Sometimes they commend me for my excellent flossing, despite the fact I’ve never been better than an irregular flosser, at best. (Interesting note: Pregnancy can have strange effects on your teeth and gums, so dental care is extra-important during that time; so I’ve had to become more consistent with flossing — probably not a bad habit to establish anyway.)
Well, a couple weeks ago, when I went in for my usual dental cleaning, they forewent the X-rays — probably good — but the dentist, probing around with those mirrors and terrifyingly poky tools, suddenly got really sad. This is the first time I’d met this guy, who had just bought the dental practice we’ve gone to since we came back to Washington. He seemed nice enough, but when he had to tell me that I had a cavity, his entire demeanor took on a deeply mournful cast, as if telling me that my mother had passed away unexpectedly. “Oh… oh, no,” he said, “I’m so sorry, but I have to tell you… you have a small cavity in your upper-right molar.” And he folded his hands, head bowed, but keeping an eye on me — to make sure I didn’t burst into tears, maybe.
Seeing I remained stoically dry-eyed and unbowed by this tragedy, he proceeded to explain that all my other molars had sealants on them, but this one, the sealant was gone. In fact, I seem to recall that my Massachusetts dentist had removed it at one point, because it was coming apart or something. The cavity that had developed was very small, really quite small, and in fact filling it was much more like putting a new sealant on. Not mentioned: sealants don’t involve drills and the guarantee of future dental work. They probably wouldn’t even need to use any numbing for the filling, and if I could do it that way, it’d be better, as pregnant women and dental work don’t always mix well.
This was a couple weeks ago. I duly made a follow-up appointment, sooner rather than later, again because apparently that’s what you should do when pregnant. I’m telling you — the things nobody warns you about… But that’s another topic. Yesterday I had that follow-up to fill the “very small, really quite small” cavity.
I went in, chatted with the receptionist — who, I’m convinced, actually runs the office — and then went in. They confirmed that I wanted to avoid numbing if I could, and then got started. Never having done this before, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, but figured it’d involve some drilling and then some filling with something. And, since I’d never been through this, I did feel a little apprehensive. What if it did end up really hurting? But I reminded myself that I’ve ridden RAMROD and High Pass Challenge, and I’m going to have a baby; surely I can handle any discomfort that might come with one little filling.
And, in fact, it turned out to be no big deal. The dentist drilled for like 30 seconds; stopped, checked with me, was I OK? Thumbs up. Drill for 30 more seconds. Are you still OK? No pain? Just fine, go ahead. This went on maybe four times. Then he paused and they let me close my mouth, which was a relief. He’d done 3/4 of it, but the deepest part was left. He’d try to be gentle, but it could hurt. Did I want to get numbed up? No? And it hadn’t hurt so far at all? No? I was very brave. Onward!
The last part did involve some slightly bizarre rattling/grinding that a person doesn’t generally feel in their teeth, but it didn’t hurt, per se. Certainly not as much as flossing after having not flossed for a long time. Definitely not as much as climbing hard up Seminary Hill at the end of a ride. That was the end of the drilling. Then there was the filling, using some weird clicky device I couldn’t see clearly (it was probably better that way).
Then the worst part, which shows how easy of a filling it was: Keep your mouth open for 3 minutes, with an air sucker in there sucking all moisture from your mouth until your tongue is a desiccated little nub, so that the filling can set. Geez, I’m glad it wasn’t longer. I reminded myself: I can endure anything for 3 minutes. This really isn’t bad. They had to do this twice, in fact, because they decided to add a little more filling stuff somewhere after the first round had set.
And that was about it. Grind it to match my bite, and I was out of there in less than 30 minutes. Even so, it was by far the longest I’ve spent in the actual dentist’s company ever. At the end, the dentist asked if it had hurt. No, not really. I didn’t add that the worst part was the high-pressure water spraying into the cleaned-out cavity before it got filled; that was briefly uncomfortable. But on the scale of pain that I regularly endure, this honestly didn’t even register. I hurt more doing my chosen recreation than I did during the entire appointment! Yet once again, the dentist praised how brave I was. It just didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. I made sure to thank him for doing a good job.
Innocuous filling experience aside, I’m certainly going to be more diligent about dental care in the future. I don’t want to have to deal with even “no big deal” cavities if I can avoid them.