Saturday, March 17, 2012

My Dentist as Therapist

I know what I should say is that I hate going to the dentist, but what I want to say is that I hate the dentist, my dentist. I would like to shoot the messenger. The tooth doctor, this man of tiny sharp tools and huge bills, rarely gives me anything but bad news.

I got my first crown when I was 16. I had so many cavities that my mom got me on a program we called "flossing for college." As in, if you don't floss more, you will use up all your college money fixing your teeth. The dentist of my youth is now retired and likes to sail. I think my parents bought half his boat. When I got married, my parents were so glad they would stop having to pay for my teeth to stay in my head; now my poor husband pays for it.

This week, when I was told that I needed yet another crown and another filling, I was openly P.O.ed at my kind and skilled doctor, and the bubbly hygienist got a taste of venom too. Seriously, is this really necessary?

Then I went home, got out my dental mirror (yes, I have one, and no, I don't know why), and took a look at the teeth in question.

Oh. Yes, I see.

The new filling I'm getting is on a tooth that has been driving me crazy for about a year, because food keeps getting stuck on it. The crown is on a molar that has been filled multiple times (15 years ago by my sailor dentist), and has a visible crack. It's been bothering me too.

I'm about to make a spiritual jump here, so get ready.

If there's a small issue in my life that keeps repeating, a psychological snag I keep getting stuck on, is it possible that underneath is something decayed, or broken that needs to be drilled out and removed? I think of the expression pet peeve, and the picture I get is something I not only let keep annoying me, but an annoyance that I nurture and dress up in silly little clothes and walk about on a leash. When really, if something peeves me, shouldn't I try to get over it rather than turn it into a treasured possession.

The tooth that keeps snagging small particles in my mouth has probably needed mending for a year or more, and the tooth that needs replacing altogether has been causing me anxiety every time I brush my teeth (which is often, I swear -- my dental problem is genetic!). But because it's time consuming, painful and costly, I've been putting it off. I'm now very excited to get these troublesome teeth taken care of -- though I'm still not pleased about the bill.

And perhaps the hours I spend lying in the dentist chair over the next two weeks I shall apply to contemplating soul cavities. What's been chronically bugging me lately? What may be the root problem underneath? And who are the other messengers I've been yearning to shoot, just because they're pointing out something in me that needs fixing? It may be my most expensive therapy session yet, but let's hope it's productive.

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