Pic of the day: Adorable squealing, eh?
Today was my second appointment with the dentist about the broken tooth. I did not look forward to it. Not because of the pain, THE PAIN!! but because of the local anesthetics. I don't mind the needles; needles are your friend, and I watch dispassionately as the nurses draw bottle after tiny bottle for blood tests pretty much every time I see a doctor. It seems that you can find out almost anything with blood these days, but for some reason you still need so much of it that you can't take one bottle for all the tests that are run simultaneously. But today is not about doctors and cute nurses, but the dentist and scary local anesthetics.
When I was still a boy, I was a regular at the school dentist's. This could have something to do with me taking after my grandmother who considered syrup an important part of a balanced diet. I failed to reflect on the fact that she had been wearing false teeth as long as I could remember... Anyway, one day after having pulled a tooth or some such, I came out and started saying something to my brother who had accompanied me. (The dentist's office was far from school, in fact in another village, and I was easily lost.) Imagine my surprise when I said something different from what I intended. I sent the right words to my brain, but other words came out. They did not even make sense, although I think they belonged to the same word class (nouns for nouns etc). It was kinda funny, but definitely scary. I was already old enough to realize that the brain is keeping us alive. Having it malfunction out of the blue is a Bad Thing.
The speech impediment wore off after some minutes, but I never looked at anesthetics the same way again. Since I am also lucky enough to have a high pain threshold (I only have a low whine threshold), I just say no to local anesthetics when I make minor tooth repair. Today however was not minor. He was to remove the remaining enamel (only one side had fallen off), remove the amalgam from my younger years when dentists filled your teeth with quicksilver (I think it is forbidden now, it is certainly discontinued), and reshape the remaining bone to serve as a seat for a ceramic crown later.
Luckily the root was still healthy. (Whether this is going to last is another matter.) But still, cutting through much of the tooth bone would hurt like mad without anesthetics, and I don't trust myself to be cooperative through protracted agony. I explained the problem to the dentist, who belittled it pointing out that he had done this on me before. Which is true; but then again so had the school dentist. However, he claimed that modern anesthetics have less side effects and are applied differently. I saw no reason to disbelieve that: I remember how much things have changed over the last 35 years. It happens so slowly, we barely notice. But in the end, life now is much different from then. And so is dentistry.
Indeed, no complications happened. The procedure was long and uncomfortable, but painless. Even after the shot wore off, the pain was moderate. This is going to change in a few days, but I don't know that yet. It even took less than the two hours I had set aside, so all in all it seemed a great success. It cost me roughly $400.
Norway is a bit strange in that it has neither universal dental care like many European countries, nor do jobs come with dental plans unless your teeth are important to your job, which is exceedingly rare. I guess movie stars may have it, but then again I suppose they can afford to pay themselves. The short of it is that teeth are among the most reliable indicator of wealth in Norway. There is very little poverty here; it is close to the truth that the only people who are desperately poor are those who have turned their back on society, mostly drug addicts. Poverty by American standards is virtually unknown. But poverty by Norwegian standards exists, and this is one way it makes itself felt. The lower classes, those who fail to gain full or nearly full employment, can get by year after year on state handouts. But a sudden expense like major dental work is beyond them. And so they wait until it is too late.
Because of the mix-up with the bank, I had ended up borrowing more than I needed. If I live, I will pay for that, with interest. But ironically it also means that I could just pull my card as I left the dentist. It is weird how everything is connected, is it not?
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.