Dentist, Part II

Astute readers may remember my last trip to the dentist and how it was a less-than-enjoyable experience. I went for another filling today; at my cleaning a few weeks ago, they told me that my usual dentist was out, and asked if I’d mind if some other dentist did the final once-over for the cleaning. I said I didn’t mind (what if I’d said I did?), and when I went to book the fillings, they told me that it’d be a six-month wait for my usual dentist, but only a couple weeks for the random dentist. So I booked an appointment with her.

Today took only two Novacaine shots (delivered about 30 minutes apart in different areas, versus three all in the same place), neither of which was jabbed into any nerves. She tested to make sure I didn’t have feeling in my tooth before drilling, and did not insert metal pipes into my mouth while I had my eyes closed. The most painful part was them pulling on my lips (they needed to drill my back-most tooth), and that wasn’t really painful. She took a minute before starting to tell me that, if I was in pain and needed her to stop, I should raise my left hand, something she and her assistant would watch for. My usual dentist has never discussed what to do when she begins drilling into a non-numb tooth, or when her Novacaine needle impinges veins or nerves. My “scream out in horrible pain” rarely brought a cessation to the activities, just a, “Oh, does that hurt? I’ll just be another minute…”

What did concern me, though, was how the visit started, with the nurse (hygienist?) that brought me in.

Scene the First
[A dentist’s office waiting room. As Matt is seated, two guys in their late teens enter and are seated. Guy 1 fills out paperwork, while Guy 2 reads a magazine.]
Guy 1: “How do you spell ‘tennis?’ T-e-n-n-e-s?”
Guy 2: “I think so.”
[Matt furrows his brow in dismay.]
Guy 1: “I’m going to run out to the car for a minute.”
Guy 2: “Okay.”
[Enter Nurse]
Nurse: “Matt?”
Matt: “Aye!”
[Matt and Nurse exit stage left via doorway.]

Scene the Second
[A hallway, with a room, left, outfitted as a standard dentist’s office, and a room, right, equipped with an X-ray machine.]
Nurse: “I just need to get a couple X-Rays before we begin…”
Matt: “Okay.”
Nurse: “…just before we start your cleaning.”
Matt: “You mean my filling?”
Nurse: “No, you’re just here for a cleaning today.”
Matt: “I was here for a cleaning about two weeks ago. I’m here for a filling.”
Nurse: “Well your chart says it’s just a cleaning.”
[Matt furrows brow, cringing, about to interject, “Well, I really don’t need another one.”]
Nurse: “You are Matt Vincent, right?”
Matt: “No… Actually, I’m not.”
Nurse: “Oh… Let me take you back to the waiting room.”
Matt: “Alright. You may want to find Matt Vincent before they start to drill?”
[End scene.]

Perhaps the worst, though, is that I could have dismissed this as kind of funny, except that my new nurse/hygienist went on at length about how that mistake happens all the time, suggesting that they’ve done nothing to mitigate the risk?

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