Wednesday, March 28, 2007

songbird music & dentistry

Lately I'm awakened almost every morning about 3 a.m. by a mocking- bird perched outside my bedroom window. About 6 or 7 the cardinals begin their vocal exercises. It's nesting season and these territorial birds are establishing their domains. It's one of my favorite things about spring. Here's one of said redbirds shot a week or so before these trees started setting leaves.

I went to the dentist yesterday for my second root canal in 3 weeks. I have bad teeth, heredity, I guess, so I've already had 4 or 5 root canals and I don't look forward to visiting any dentist. My newest doctor, a McKinney DDS, has amazed me with his technique & technology. It's been 2 years since my last dental work but it seems light years in the past compared to my recent experience. This guy has a computer monitor next to each chair and they take x-rays by inserting a small camera in your mouth. He and you can see the results of the x-ray immediately and you can sit there and study them as you wait for the anesthetic to take effect. Yesterday I was reflecting on the vast difference between my first root canal, done about 1976, and my more recent ones. Back then it took at least 30 minutes for your mouth to become completely numb. Now it takes about 5 minutes. Back then dentists worked with their bare hands; now they and their assistants use latex gloves and surgical masks. Back then you had to gag from whatever substance they had in your mouth and pray they would let you spit into the mini toilet bowl next to the chair; now they stretch a "rubber dam" across your face, isolating the area they're working on and preventing all that crap from running down your throat. It also allows you to swallow without disturbing what they're doing. When you do have stuff in your mouth they spray a mist of water in your mouth and let you use that wonderful straw invention that sucks everything away. Finally, I remember that first root canal hurt horrendously. I almost jumped during the procedure because the anesthetic didn't go deep enough and they had to give me an extra dose and wait to continue the procedure. Afterward, my dad drove me home, stopping on the way to pick up some superduper painkiller the dentist had prescribed. I had to take them immediately I hurt so bad and I was falling asleep by the time we got home. I was out for at least the rest of the day from those painkillers. With my recent work the dentist recommends Advil or Motrin and those far less potent drugs do the trick. I can drive, I can work, I can go about my life with what feels like soreness rather than pain. Now it's the next day and I'm almost ready to crunch apples with my new temporary crown. I don't know if it's the type of anesthetic or the technique the dentist uses, but I am really grateful for progress in dentistry.

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