Friday, May 8, 2009

Wisdom Tooth

I surrendered one of my four wisdom teeth in California in 2004. Because of this, my dentist tells me, its mate is growing unchecked and will eventually need to be removed. So why not now, he questions me.

This will drastically affect my wise:unwise tooth ratio, but even more important is that I have to be present for the removal. The California procedure was relatively painless, but it's not the pain that worries me. It's the anxiety. It's sitting in that comfortably reclined chair surrounded by encouraging posters and accolades. It's the dentist telling me he's going to wait a bit longer to let the anesthetic "really get in there."

It's not that my imagination runs wild; it's my cynicism. I start to wonder if I can trust a hygienist who wears velcro shoes or why my dentist can only afford an office this far up the freeway. I start to notice the water stain in the ceiling panel and a chewed pencil, a flickering bulb, a mustard stain. I start to wonder if I smell, does my logo'd tshirt offend anyone on my dental team. When he tells me there's a tiny bit of bone too small to remove, I think to myself, "well of course it's too small for a man with a mustard stain on his shirt."

During my latest checkup my dentist told me I had three options. I could elect for local anesthetic, local anesthetic with anxiety meds, or stone-cold unconscious. The first doesn't keep my eyes off shoe laces and gig-lines. The second is for junkies and the third for those who blindly trust the FBI and CIA. So clearly I need a fourth option.

That's when I came up with the idea of a dental abduction. You sign up for a procedure and, after confirming your insurance information, you're told it will be "taken care of." If you ask what that means you're told it will be "taken care of." Despite the eeriness of that statement you feel a burden lifted knowing that your problem will be taken care of. You go about your business and then, without any warning and completely out of nowhere, someone hits you over the head. You could be going into a Supercuts when you hear someone call your name in that didn't-we-go-to-school-together voice and when you turn around you think you see a baseball bat before you wake up in the dentist's office sans wisdom tooth.

Obviously my fourth option requires additional procedures at the hospital, but those are routine, nothing to worry about, easily "taken care of."