Broken molars

Intrusive. Awkward. Banal. Antisepticised and stretched taut with rubber.

Have you ever chewed on your fingernails? You know the taste you get, like a grinded piece of old plastic, dark and deep yet earthy and natural?

Mix that taste with cinnamon, then scrape at your eyelid.

That, to me, is the dentist.

It’s a common fear – one that’s so often used that it’s become a frightfully easy cliché. But it’s mine. Not a fear, per se, but a dread – a sneaking, looming rain cloud over the picnic that is my life. It’s like ants in my sandwich, except the only way the ants can be released is by numbing my hand, removing the sandwich and drilling a hole into it.

Somehow – I don’t know why, I wish I knew when – I broke my tooth. A clean crack has appeared straight through my bottom left backmost molar. It has come loose from the main tooth, secured and propped in place by gums and other teeth. It’s broken – a pretty smooth break that could be along the line of an older filling or could be a fresh new problem – and it just, well, happened.

And now I have to go to the dentist. A month early. I don’t like the checkups. I don’t like leaning back and staring into a too-bright light while a bearded man whose hands taste like latex prods and pokes and scrapes at my sensitive champers. I mean, 30% of my teeth have been drilled and filled already – it’s not like I have anything to be accountable for anymore.

Yet, still I go. I called yesterday and was instructed to come in ASAP. There’s no pain in my newly cloven molar, but it’s enough of a red flag to warrant an “emergency” meeting. And by “emergency,” they probably mean “costly.”

A month later, I’ll be back for my cleaning.

I hate the dentist. Have I mentioned that before?

This was lovingly handwritten on June 11th, 2007