So far this year we've paid the dentist the equivalent of what we could have spent buying a small-sized sedan. I asked how much for the root canal. $1,500. I asked how much to have it pulled. $200 to $300, depending. "Pull it."
Dr. Julee looked pained. As a dentist she said she always tries to save teeth. The tooth was still good. It already had a crown on it. I could understand this. Saving teeth is her job. Probably feels a little bit like a cat lady who can't rescue every creature and has to let one go.
I asked if I could get along without the tooth, and she admitted that if there was any tooth you could live without it would be a back top tooth. I said I was ready to say goodbye to the problem child. I had spent enough money on this tooth over the years.
The receptionist set me up with an oral surgeon for this afternoon. She broke down the price and asked if I wanted to have nitrous oxide--laughing gas. It was an extra $86.
I'd never had the particular pleasure of receiving laughing gas, but I heard it was a blast. I'd always just braved it out with Novocain, even when I had my wisdom teeth removed years ago.
Our dentist in California was a man from India named Dr. Belur. I had assumed when I went to Dr. Belur to get my wisdom teeth pulled, I'd be put under or be offered laughing gas. I was wrong. When I asked when I was going to get put under, Dr. Belur said in his thick Indian accent, "Oh, no, in New Delhi I take out 300 teeth a day. Not even Novocain. I just pull." He said I should have gone to an oral surgeon if I had wanted to be put under.
I felt a sense of alarm, but he said no worries. He'd use Novocain with me. He gave me my first shot, and there was no turning back.
What came next was akin to two hours of labor and delivery with forceps. Dr. Belur was pulling so hard to get my first impacted tooth out that my butt kept lifting up off the chair. As my body dangled from the single grip of a pair of dental pliers, Dr. Belur told me I should have gone to an oral surgeon and gotten put under.
He had managed to cut two of the teeth out by the time his office closed at five o'clock. I was sent home with two tea bags to put in my injured mouth and told to return in the morning to have the other two removed. I came back the next morning for more of the same, and finally the deed was done.
So with the memory of my experience with Dr. Belur in mind, I readily said yes please when the oral surgeon offered a little bit of the N20.
The laughing gas wasn't quite the hoot I expected, but it did make the whole experience of getting a tooth yanked out of your jaw an almost pleasant one. After the dental assistant strapped the mask over my nose, I had a moment of claustrophobia. I asked if I could get it removed if I started to panic. The assistant said just to breathe through my mouth if I got uncomfortable.
They started up the mist. I waited. Nothing. Took a few deep breaths. Still nothing. But then my hands started to tingle and my lips felt like they were getting shot up with Botox. Not that I have ever gotten Botox. Finally, I started to feel a mildly pleasant sensation. The creative juices began to flow. Man, this would make for a good blog. I tried to hang onto the pleasant thoughts drifting in my brain.
I thought of my oldest daughter who had delivered our latest granddaughter at a birthing center. The midwives used laughing gas for pain relief. God bless Amber, I thought. She went through childbirth just with laughing gas. Gosh, I love that girl. Then I thought of our other two children. And our grandbabies. Well, just bless them all.
I heard the crunch of the tooth as it cracked, sort of like what you hear when you break apart the bones of the chicken.
Seemed like less than a minute and they were done. I remained in the chair as I was given instructions for after care.
As I made my way to my car, I rehearsed the happy thoughts I had while I was under the stream of laughing gas. I was going to write the blog as soon as I got home.
First though I needed to get ice cream. Ice cream was supposed to be good for recovery. I pulled up at the drive through at Flapdoodles and ordered a pint of vanilla and a pint of white chocolate raspberry.
At home, I replaced the gauze, took two Advil and started on the blog. That was over four hours ago. I still haven't been able to recover the breezy thoughts I had while I was in laughing gas la-la land.
Oh, well. Getting the tooth pulled was a piece of cake. And I'm eating Flapdoodles ice cream. All in all, a good day.