You won’t feel a thing

I had to get a root canal yesterday. I know what you’re thinking — “Lucky!”

I know, I know. Don’t be jealous. Root canals are a special treat. For this particular dental experience, I decided to go to a dentist who specializes in sedation dentistry. It was either that or just let the tooth rot out of my head. Honestly. I can no longer bring myself to volunteer for the waking torture of dental work. Not going to do it. Please just knock me out.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time in the dentist’s chair in my life and I just can’t take it anymore. I am one of those lucky few who had at least one new cavity every single time I went to the dentist. I don’t know why. My brother and sister didn’t. I brushed my teeth just as much as they did. I’m told that I was just genetically blessed with what the dentist referred to as “bad enamel.” What are you gonna do?

As a result of this bad enamel and the ensuing cavities, I have a mouthful of porcelain crowns, which are beautiful and a huge improvement over the big silver fillings and crowns I sported well into my 20’s. I paid a small fortune for my pretty white teeth and I paid even more in time spent in open-mouthed agony while a dentist took a power drill to my mouth. During one particularly long and gruesome appointment, I had to resort to repeatedly counting from 1 to 100 to keep from having an all-out panic attack. I have dental PTSD.

God’s extra little joke on me is that I also have a terrible habit of clenching and grinding my teeth when I sleep. So, night-by-night, I systematically destroy my pretty porcelain crowns. Which brings us to the root canal that I had yesterday. And to sedation dentistry, the most wonderful invention in the world.

The dentist gave me a little white pill to take an hour before I got to the office, so by the time my mom dropped me off I was already pleasantly woozy. I didn’t know if it was just the drugs distorting my take on things, but it seemed to me that the office staff finds their doped-up patients to be amusing. The receptionist seemed to chuckle conspiratorially when she advised me to, “Sign these papers now, because you won’t know what you’re signing when you leave here.”

A short while after taking my second little white pill, I drowsily inquired if the loud noise I heard coming from the next room was snoring.

“Yes, that’s another sedation patient,” the hygienist giggled and shook her head indulgently, as if we were all just silly overgrown babies, what with our snoring and drooling.  But I wasn’t offended. I was feeling no pain.

The next thing I remember was the laughing gas tube being placed over my nose and then hearing the dentist say funny things like, “Nurse, hand me a strange event.” I thought, “He didn’t really say that. You are hallucinating. That’s funny.”

I heard a lot of funny things while I drifted in my drug-induced twilight and I really wanted to remember everything so I could write about it. But when it was over and I came to, my mouth was puffy and my lips were chapped but I couldn’t remember much of anything one way or another.

But that is the point of sedation dentistry in the first place, isn’t it?  Mission accomplished.

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