Dentist: Sorry, Me: ‘Saguh

It’s not a riddle.

I don’t know the answer.

I do know that it doesn’t matter whether they talk when you can’t understand the dentist. Give it a shot; go to a dentist who’s primary language is different from yours, or maybe put earplugs in next time you have a cleaning. It’s kind of… cathartic. Like, a tooth massage. Is that a thing?

As I’m sure you’ll understand by the end of this post, I don’t have any images to demonstrate this story, so enjoy this x-ray of my mouth from several years ago:

 The hygienist told me that I did a good job after this X-ray, so please endorse me for that skill on LinkedIn. The hygienist told me that I did a good job after this X-ray, so please endorse me for that skill on LinkedIn.

As you can see, I wear a small wire inside my bottom jaw. The bottom retainer or “lingual bar” is an appliance that’s commonly installed after wearing braces, to maintain alignment in the front teeth. It’s permanently installed with an adhesive composite binding the ends of the wire to the incisors. (Can you tell that I sometimes write about dentistry for work?) After ten years, mine fell off on Saturday, and I spent the weekend rubbing the tip of my tongue against two studs of glue, just like that feeling when you lose a tooth and you stick your tongue through the new window in your smile.

In an effort to not undo years of expensive orthodontics, I decided to get it fixed quickly. I called the insurance, and the nice woman on the phone told me I needed to be referred by a doctor for it to be covered by insurance.

“Okay, can you schedule me a doctor’s appointment?”

“Just go on our website.”

I didn’t find a doctor appointment on the website. I didn’t try, because it didn’t make sense to me. Instead, I found a dentist office that’s within the 0.71 km commute between my home and my apartment. So on Wednesday morning, on my way to work, I stopped to ask about the possibility of re-attaching my wire.

After the receptionist made a few trips to the dentist in the back room, the short answer was: yes, we can do it now, but it’s not covered, unless you have private insurance. I don’t – I have public insurance, supposedly one of the best, by a company called TK – but I wanted this done. (By the way, I got a letter in the mail last week from TK, saying they were lowering the insurance rates… you don’t read that every day!) The dentist also gave me the option to have an aligner made, which I could wear at night, instead of re-installing the lingual bar.

Next thing I knew, I was in the chair, with swabs holding my tongue and cheeks while the dentist polished my teeth, applied a small amount of etching acid, added the bonding composite, and voila – reattached my bar. All the while, the hygienist responded to her guiding instructions and handed her tools. I had no clue what they were talking about, and I didn’t care. At one point, a tool fell into my lap and she said “sorry.” With four hands and two tools in my mouth, I tried to respond, and remembered that this was a monologue, not a dialogue.

Sometimes, we should just listen, and it can be therapeutic.

You can call me crazy for enjoying the harsh sounds of the German language while laid back in a dentist chair in a sterile white room.

She told me to call her when I need a cleaning. I probably will.

I told her to call me when she needs a 3D printer, and that’s why I was late to work on Wednesday. I was selling printers with my mouth wide open.

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