No Novocaine Needed

I have deep grooves in my molars. Since the majority of tooth decay begins in molars’ grooves, having extraordinarily deep grooves makes the area even more vulnerable. I have staved off doom by having sealants. The procedure seals the grooves and creates a smoother, easier-to-clean surface. Plus, the sealants last for years. Not forever; I have had to replace them a few times throughout my adult life. Today was one of those times. My dentist’s office has two sides. If you are there for a regular checkup, you will be called in through the left door. That side of the building is for just that: routine examinations and cleanings. If you are there for something more extensive, like fillings, crowns, or root canals, you will be called in through the right door. Sealants, though painless and requiring no numbing, are also done on the right side. The employee who retrieved me from the waiting room was someone I know well and enjoy. As she sat me in the chair and finished final preparations, we caught up on recent life happenings. She was standing behind my chair, so I could not see her, only hear her. She was telling me about a humorous incident she witnessed in the parking lot that morning when I heard her happily greet someone. A young man wearing scrubs walked to the front of my chair. I did not recognize him. He introduced himself and began explaining the process of numbing my teeth. My friend interrupted him and told him I would not need numbing for the procedure. The young man furled his eyebrows and looked down at me. Still jocular from the conversation I had just been having, I lowered my eyes and said in a stern, near-whisper, “I don’t need it. I can take it.” The look on this man’s face was a mixture of confusion and horror. His mouth gaping and his eyes wide, he looked away from me and back to his colleague. She then explained, in technical terms I didn’t entirely understand, that I didn’t have any X, that we were only doing Y, so I did not need any Z and would be “in and out with no trouble.” The young man let out a noticeable sigh of relief and left the room. My friend came around my chair to put on my bib. She said the young man was new, beginning only last week, and that she didn’t realize until that moment that every procedure he had done in that room so far had been “pretty heavy stuff;” she was pretty sure I was the first sealant since his arrival. As she summarized the kind of "pretty heavy stuff" he and she had done in that room in the last few days alone, I realized my little quip had probably just about given the poor man a heart attack.

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