I know what you’re thinking: “Not another story from the dentist’s office!” Oh, but this one tops all of the others. The old adage “Just when you think it can’t get any worse…” has proved true once again.
It was time for yet another crown. My tendency to clench my jaws and grind my teeth wreaks havoc on my existing crowns and fillings, causing them to break down prematurely. I had to prepare myself for a miserable time there, mentally as much as physically. I won’t say that I went into the appointment with a good attitude, but while I was waiting in the chair, I began to think that it wasn’t necessary to assume that the coming contamination would be top-level. It’s unavoidable to a degree, but perhaps I was exaggerating it to some extent. I made the decision to limit my cleaning. When I had a break while waiting for them to work on the crown, I spritzed my hands with rubbing alcohol four times (still plenty), yet I felt a sense of relief at the stress I was saving myself. This visit was going to be easier! Wasn’t it?
I used my cell phone for a few minutes until it was time to return to the chair. I started going to this dental office because they advertised same-day crowns. I have had a wretched time with temporary crowns in the past, so this was highly appealing to me. I had had the same-day crowns done at the office before this particular day, and the process was smooth. Hence, I had no concern regarding the dental work itself as I headed there that day, only the resultant contamination. I should have known things were going south when they had trouble fitting the newly-molded crown. They adjusted it for a long time, but it would not fit properly no matter what they did. As they make the crowns on the premises, the decision was made to start over with a new one. There was more measuring, more waiting, more fitting, more playing on the phone, more adjusting – all to no avail. The second crown didn’t fit either. It was close to the end of the workday, so the only option they could give me was to make a temporary.
My heart sank. The weeks of extreme sensitivity and of the temporary crown popping off stirred dread within me, but I didn’t have much time to think about it. They quickly made the temporary and brought it in. As the dentist and the assistant were discussing it, I heard a light tinkling sound on the floor. The assistant bent down and picked up something. Now that is bad no matter what is on the floor. That meant that the dental assistant’s fingers now teemed with floor germs, but maybe she would wash her hands. No, she was busy wiping off the object that had fallen. It then dawned on me that what had fallen was the temporary crown. Yes, the object that had been on the floor was going in my mouth. Why, oh why, didn’t she take it to the sink and wash it off? Should I say something? I felt panicked, but was it worth it to say anything? My mouth always feels contaminated when I leave there anyway, and my mouth must go through an extensive disinfection process as it is. Did this really change anything? In my mind, it was much worse than the typical appointment contamination, but I decided it wasn’t worth making a fuss about.
Yes, I allowed the filthy crown to be placed in my mouth. I thought about how horrible it was going to be if the temporary popped off repeatedly and caused extensive mouth rinsing every time. The dental assistant was at least considerate of this and used a bit of temporary cement to keep the crown in place, so that didn’t happen. But I did have to go back and have the permanent one put in, spreading the contamination all over again. As far as I’m concerned, I have floor germs trapped under that crown, and they’re probably multiplying! Oh, well. Out of sight, out of mind.