Helicopter Hugmamma urges one and all to…brush…floss…and visit the dentist regularly. Or else you might be gumming your way through food in your golden years.
What prompted my plea? The aftermath of a visit to my dentist today.
Before you assume that the fault was his, let me assure you it wasn’t. The man couldn’t be lovelier. And I wouldn’t entrust my teeth to another dentist at this stage in my life.
The fault is mostly mine because as an informed adult, I should know better. That being said, I didn’t start life learning how to properly care for my teeth.
I don’t think the native Hawaiians learned about dental hygiene from the missionaries. And I don’t recall that the Catholic nuns with whom my mom worked at the orphanage told the orphans in their care, many of whom were my buddies, that the Ten Commandments included…brushing their teeth.
So you see, as an islander in the 1940s and the 1950s…I thought little about my teeth, let alone that one day they would be…front and center in my life.
The summer before I went to high school, my mom finally decided it was time I saw a dentist. I think I may have pressed for it since, as a teenager, I wanted to make a good impression. I wanted to fit in with my classmates.
Because I worked in the bookstore during the weeks leading up to the start of school, the tuition at my Catholic school was discounted. And uniforms leveled the playing field. No worrying about my homemade duds and orphanage hand-me-downs. Only my closest friends knew how difficult it was for my family to make ends meet.
The jig would’ve been up if the other kids had gotten a look at my rotten teeth.
So what kind of dentist could my mom afford? How about a dentist who was trained in the military who happened to be Chinese? And one compassionate enough to accept $5 a visit as down payment toward the bill.
Being half-Chinese, familiar with the idiosyncrasies of that culture, I know the Chinese to be no-nonsense, ambitious, “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” kind of people. Whining is not tolerated…no way…no how. So that coupled with the military’s strict adherence to discipline, I instinctively knew I had to suck-it-up in the dental chair.
I went under the needle with no anesthetic to have teeth filled. And when I had a tooth pulled, the needle the doctor used to numb the area looked like the same one he might have used on a horse. I swear he must’ve left two holes in my gums, the one where the tooth had been…and the hole where he’d injected the needle.
Needless to say I did not go back for more of the same…until I was married and had a child. Wasn’t there a warranty or something that guaranteed my dental makeover for life?
I had some work done while we lived in Conncecticut but, of course, when we moved to Washington State going to the dentist was relegated to the very bottom of my…”to do list.” That is until I started down the path toward my “golden years.”
The possibility of wearing false teeth loomed large in my mind. Remembering the trials and tribulations my mom encountered with hers, was enough to scare the bejesus out of me. I hope my brother Ed has had better luck with his over the years. God bless him!
It took me a few tries until I found my dream dentist, and found him I have.
Dr. Quickstad, my hero, has been working on improving my smile these last few years. He’s worked his magic on my teeth…root canals…crowns…cleaning and filling cavities.
And today I had a tooth implant. Wonder of wonders!
A month or so ago Dr. Quickstad did a bone graft. Today he implanted a screw which will hold the new crown in place…another hour-and-a-half appointment. Today’s procedure lasted 2 hours.
I saw the chiropractor later in the day so she could work on my jaw as I’m prone to TMJ. I wasn’t prepared for the mind-numbing pain which overwhelmed me as I sat in her waiting area. The anesthetics had worn off, leaving the left side of my face throbbing. The chiropractor’s gentle ministrations and adjustments finally calmed the pain, enough for me to drive myself home.
Wisdom does come with age. I’m brushing, flossing, gargling and having my teeth cleaned three times a year. As they say…
…better late than never…or deal with the alternatives!