I’m currently listening to Everything is Awful by Matt Bellasi via the audible.com app. It’s pretty funny and the shit hit home during my commute the other day. He was discussing his extensive dental work as a child. It inspired me to discuss my own experience and to say it sucked is an understatement.
My dentist was not carefully researched, nor was he a referral from a dear family friend. My dentist was a customer of my dad’s restaurant, fresh out of college. Since he ate at my father’s restaurant, this made him the obvious choice to work on my horribly crooked teeth.
Don’t get me wrong, he did a good job. My teeth are straight because of him and he was invited to my wedding for cryin’ out loud. I laugh now because at the time, my teeth were so bad, it was agreed upon between the dentist and my parents that they would pay one flat lump sum and this was to cover every procedure I needed for movie-star teeth. Procedures I endured but not limited to included:
- Braces- 3 times
- Glued in jaw extender- 2 times
- Adenoids out- twice
- 2 wisdom teeth removed
- Countless retainers
- A gabillion x-rays
- Probably 30 different impressions. That’s where the dentist sticks gooey stuff in your mouth with a metal, platelet thingy. You are then required to bite down while the goo tickles your throat, threatening to choke you. It’s not pleasant.
The Retainer From Hell
The most barbaric procedure was the glued in retainer. I was told my jaw was too small and needed to be expanded. This entailed gluing the retainer into my teeth. Then I was given a tiny little key that I would then tighten x amounts each week. Honestly I forget how many times, I just know it hurt like a bitch every time it has to be twisted. Though I wanted to ask how we would get the glued retainer out, I didn’t; fearing the answer.
After a year, it was time for the removal. Once at the dental office, I sat in the brown, vinyl chair, looking up at the gigantic elephant staring at me. Each time you came to the dentist, you could enter your name into a drawing to win the over-sized animal of the month. I put my name in that basket religiously and never once won any of the animals. Dr. Abel joined me after the initial inspection was complete by the dental tech and he was holding pliers.
‘Pliers!? What the actual fuck?‘ Obviously I did not think those exact words. I just saw the pliers and knew it wasn’t to fix the squeaky exam chair.
After much begging and pleading from the dentist, I finally agreed to open my mouth to remove the retainer. I was whimpering (a state I found myself in probably every visit) while butterflies flew around in my stomach. He attached the pliers to the side of the retainer and pulled down.
At that moment, I knew what had happened. The glue was so strong, that the pliers had removed not only the retainer but a tooth too! I cringed as he centered the pliers on the other side to repeat the torture. Fortunately, the second side came off easier. I sat crying in pain but relieved it was over.
And do you know what he said to me? Do you know what the consolation prize was for accidentally ripping out my tooth?
“Well, at least it was a baby tooth.” He said as if he had gotten the wrong brand of cheese at the grocery store. When he said that, it broke my shock. I had been crying while staring blankly, straight ahead. I suddenly stopped crying, turned to him and said,
“Are you kidding me? A tooth is a tooth is a tooth.”