Thursday, January 31, 2013

Today, with freshly cracked molar,  I crept back shamefaced to the dentist I've been neglecting for several years.  Dr. Giuliano is an avuncular, unscolding sort, and it's clear he just doesn't understand how I could manage to miss 4 yearly checkups in a row.

But dentists . . . yeah.  My first dentist, Dr Yeager seemed to have it in for my teeth, reliably finding a cavity or two in mine, but never in my sister's.  He paced himself so my head was never too heavy with fillings until when I was about 14 he suddenly diagnosed a dozen cavities at once.  As he was describing to me his drillsome plans, I blurted out with teenage tactlessness that I might want a second opinion.  I don't think I'd ever been cussed out with such anger by an adult other than a parent (except for some elderly neighbors protective of their shrubbery, but that was from a safe distance), and Yeager furiously banned me from his practice never to return.

My next dentist, Dr. Reginald, never did find a dozen cavities - so maybe Yeager was planning on filling the rough spots in my teeth - or he needed funds to make his escape.  Months after our falling out he abandoned his wife and daughter to run off to New York City with a gay lover, so who knows what stresses he was under.

After my 20's -- the middle years of dental promiscuity - looking up a DMD whenever my traitorous tongue wouldn't let me ignore some rough spot - it wasn't until San Diego that I got vigilant again.  Fieldwork was coming up and I wasn't going to trust my teeth to those great crafters of stainless steel chompers,  the stomatologs of Kazakhstan. So San Diego was a place to jump from cleanly.  There was young Dr. Yorick panicking as he realized the liquid glass he was using to affix that crown wasn't what he thought it was -- crack, crunch, chisel.  And my lovely Tijuana dentista kneeling upon my chest to get out that damned wisdom tooth -- this one, dios, wouldn't break for sure.

After Kazakhstan, it was more years of promiscuity and neglect.  Ireland was great -- a country of people mostly as content as me to agree that there's really no point to having your teeth outlive you.  But soon enough I was back in the US, in Rhode Island under pressure again to leave a skull full of sturdy teeth as legacy.  Good old Doctor Giuliano ushered me back into the familiar world of fillings and the unfamiliar world of root canals.  He'd have charmed me into periodontics next if I hadn't started avoiding him.

But now I'm back, with my molar patched and an appointment for a new crown next week.  He hasn't made a whisper about periodontics, yet, of course.  I think he knows I'm skittish.  Yeah.  Dentists.