Saturday, February 17, 2007

A class three cavity: "Awesome."

A class three cavity: "Awesome."
So I went to the dentist this morning because my parents have begged me. They have apparently more cavities than teeth between them, as went the apocalyptic scenario painted for me.
So, after getting lost, and confused, I got to my appointment at 9:00 in the morning, absolutely exhausted.
The check-in woman, who was rude in ways I didn't know were really necessary for her position, clearly was concerned about where her lips ended and her face began. That is the only reason I could picture her deciding that the edges of her lips should be lined three shades darker than any other part of her face. However, it clearly worked, there was no question asking as to do with where her lips were.
After a wait I got a very pleasant dentist. She was originally from India, and had a lovely trace of an accent. She was very kind, and set me up for x-rays.
We talked for a while, and the appointment was going lovely. She took x-rays and I waited for my cleaning.
While I waited for her, I noticed that she was talking to someone in the hallway. They were using a great deal of technical jargon, and it all sounded a touch serious.
The person looking after me was looking at my x-rays and said that I might have a cavity. Oh shit I thought, well I guess my parents were right. But, what did I expect, I did not floss and it had been some two years since my last appointment, its going to happen.
Then a blond woman, who I realized was the girl from the hall came in. She told me I had a lesion in my tooth and it would only get worse. To preface the following, I am really bad at writing, or even recreating dialogue; however, I am fairly sure how this was actually presented to me:
"You have a class III lesion. This Sunday I am going to be taking my dentist exam, and that is the exact thing I needed."
"What?"
"I need a patient to perform on for the medical boards to get my license."
At this point my brain went dead, as I had mailed my mom, jokingly "Did you know that this was a student dentist office when you signed me up?"
When I came back mentally, this woman was all but begging me. Apparently, my problem being the exact thing she needed was somewhat rare. The following words were used in relation to my teeth having decayed: fortunate, amazing, and my personal favorite, fate.
My question: "wait, what the hell is a class III cavity? That sounds terrible."
"It just means that you have a cavity on your back teeth, that is a class III cavity. II is on the sides of your teeth, and I is in the front."
She said it would be free, and I would get paid, but moreover, it would mean the world to her. Clearly it did. I hold myself out as someone who would help anyone. Moreover, my main "dentist" assured me that there is no way that she would do less than a perfect job, as this was her big deal and she would be overlooked by a national dentist for the board review.
In retrospect, couldn't a hobo be perfect for this?
At one point, another junior doctor came in, and he was clearly baffled at the
fortune falling from the sky. He looked at the x-ray and said "Oh, this is awesome!"
That was the first time I really wanted to punch a man in a hospital.
And then he said "If he had contact on the category I he would be perfect." Two thoughts: screw you buddy, and, contact?
A real dentist finally comes in. He looks over the charts and says "well, 18 would be good, but 19 might be better." I am enough of a knower to know that those numbers meant my respective teeth.
"Yeah, but 8 would be perfect." Replied one of the people in the room. As I looked around I realized that there were now six people in the room. It reminded me of the first time I got my hair cut in Taiwan and a crowd developed to watch my foreigner hair get cut.
"Sure, but the 7 and 8 don't have contact. They probably won't approve it if you don't have contact."
"What about 16?"
"Its good, but not as good as 19, 16 is just starting."
This conversation went on until I drew the line and said "Would someone please tell me what is wrong with my teeth?"
They were selecting which cavity would be best for use in front of the board, apparently, there were options.
"Wait, so, how many cavities I have?"
"Do you mean number of teeth, or number of fillings you will need?" The dentist replied, looking somewhat perturbed at my question.
I thought, you are the damn doctor, count them however they do it in the trade! Apparently reading that thought he said "the cavities are between the teeth..."

PSA: Floss

"...the cavities are between the teeth, so you can count the number of teeth affected or the number of fillings
"Uhh...fillings I guess."
Numbers, so many numbers...He counted up the different pairings, looked at it all and then went "It looks like 1, 2, 3...4...6...7"
So apparently, depending on how you look at it, I have seven cavities. A brief email draft:

Dear Mom and Dad,

You have meant a lot to me. However, you are of a previous generation. And like all great children, I must surpass you.

Love, Your Boy

Even better news is that this dental board is at 7:30 in the morning this coming Sunday. I actually thought it would be a good contracts exam question, but I won't go into that.
So on Sunday, I will have one of my seven cavities fixed. After that, I have an appointment in March to start filling others.
Here is the best part. Turns out that I have so many great cavities, I could basically just go down to the lobby of the dentist review boards and be a sub-in. I have so many attractive cavities.
Finally, I am no longer just potential, I am, "awesome."

PS - this blog sucks for describing just how bad and ludicrous the whole thing was. I have lost all my blogging edge, but let me point out some of the great facts that did not even get in: in addition to the set of six people in my room at a given time, I realized later when I looked up that there were still six people, but three of them were different; the Indian girl was the first person to treat me like a human being towards the end and essentially said, "Oh god, don't worry, you could just not come back, or come to a dentist, ever again. And stop brushing your teeth, just feel better;" at one point I asked how bad it was, referring to my teeth, and got back an answer referring to the dentist board.

And could someone please confirm or deny the last two sentences from this Yahoo Answers quote. It was in reference to the cost of cavity filling:

"ou have to call around. I called the dentist my mom goes to, and they wanted like 250 bucks! they said it was because I was a 'new patient' and they jacked the price up. I then called my friends dentist, and they told me 100 bucks. And that was with xrays! Just don't go to a dental school, they will 'invent' problems and mess your teeth up. Believe me, I used to work at a University with a dental school."