I’ve often said that I feel a little sorry for dentists.

Think about it: Even when I’m just having my teeth cleaned, I know it’s still not an entirely pleasant experience.

As famed cartoonist Joseph Barbera put it, “Faced with the choice of enduring a bad toothache or going to the dentist, we generally try to ride out the bad tooth.”

Little did I know how prophetic those words are.

As it is, I’ve had little more experience with my dentist than those twice-yearly cleanings. Even though our parents both ended up with dentures, we kids have always had decent teeth. 

However, I’m not exactly sure why. Simple genetics would have had all three of us with dentures or implants by now, and I don’t remember Mom and Dad standing firm on teeth brushing, snack avoidance, and regular dental cleanings either.

Given all that, I’m actually amazed that I never had a cavity growing up. Only when I was out of school did I have a tooth filled with that silvery stuff to keep my tooth intact. Later, I had all four wisdom teeth pulled under a general anesthetic as a newlywed, but other than that, no real dental record to speak of – and never a toothache.

So, I was in for quite a surprise when I began to have trouble chewing last week. I avoided popcorn, tortilla chips and nuts, and opted for yogurt, pudding and chocolate shakes instead.

It was all to no avail. I began to alternate ice packs and heating pads on my face, never quite learning for sure which was the most soothing. I laid the pads on the arm of the recliner, and then scrunched down in the chair with my face squished into the heat-cold. 

I grabbed the remote to watch hours and hours of home improvement shows, deciding against cooking programs that seemed to mock my tooth situation. Soon, I added aspirin in hopes the pain would go away…it didn’t.

The final straw was two nights without sleep.

Naturally, when I finally decide the pain is simply too much, and I’d lost too much sleep, it’s Friday. Would my favorite dentist be able to see me on such short notice? Or was he on his way to the slopes for a weekend of skiing? I’m not sure why I waited that long, but I called the office and – I’m not proud of this – I begged them to see me.

Long story short: By the time I drove into the dentist’s parking lot, I’d made up my mind that even if it took a grapefruit spoon, I wanted the offending tooth gone. After some injections, some drilling, and a yank or two, the tooth was out. Given the infection, I asked Dear Dentist if it were “icky,” and he replied that it was indeed, but not the “ickiest” he’d seen.

I was comforted by that somehow.

After a weekend of catching up on sleep and binge-watching murder mysteries, I think I’m on the mend. I have to say there is a toothache byproduct too. Because I couldn’t eat much beforehand, and then had a few issues with medications afterward, I’ve managed to lose some significant poundage.

Not the weight-loss program I’d have chosen for myself, though….

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