Three-and-a-half months have passed since my latest resorbed molar was extracted, and Monday was the big day for the next step: drilling a hole in my healed jaw and screwing in the implant. When I had my checkup with my periodontist two weeks ago and he proclaimed me ready, his receptionist joked, “Want to come back this afternoon?” Most certainly, not.
I did my best not to dwell on the pending procedure. On Sunday, we got to the beach once again, this time on Boston’s North Shore, for a beautiful afternoon of perfect sunshine, light sea breeze, and warm enough water for me to wade up to my waist several times. Just the right distraction.
I busied myself with writing Monday morning, but as the hour grew near to go, I briefly imagined just staying home and not being my normal Do Bee self. The Do Bee won out. On the 45-minute drive to my periodontist, at least the WGBH radio hosts were talking about something amusing: what listeners watch on TV to ease the stress of the daily news cycle. (Marie Kondo was a favorite.)
Then came waiting for the procedure to start. When I’m anticipating dental work, I really have to force myself to stay in the moment and not get overwhelmed. Sitting in the reclining dental chair, covered by paper drapes, I studied the art on the wall (an interesting abstract painting, not your typical bland office art), the plastic wrapping around the overhead exam light’s handles (why does it need extra covering when they’re wearing gloves, anyway?), and contemplated how much plastic waste that medical providers generate in the interest of sterility. (Literally, tons. According the Journal of the American Medical Association, health care facilities are the second largest generators of waste in the U.S., producing 4 billion tons annually. That’s a lot of disposables, including a lot of plastic.)
Fortunately, my periodontist and I enjoy similar music during these procedures, which are strenuous for both of us. As he injected local anesthetic into my gums, I focused on Vivaldi. This was especially helpful as he prepared my jaw for the implant, which involved a lot of scraping and pressure and pulling my tight mouth into very uncomfortable distortions. The selection was Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in A Minor, which I played years ago in high school, and I could still remember some of the bowing.
Then came the drilling. This drowned out all the music, causing my entire skull to vibrate. The hardest part was getting the drill and suction and other tools into my mouth. But he managed, thank goodness, and the worst was over in about twenty (long) minutes. Screwing in the implant took some manipulation, but at least I could rest my mouth in-between the different steps. As he’d predicted, we were finished in under an hour. Definitely easier than the extraction, which took twice as long. He was pleased with the result, and I finally relaxed.
After a 45-minute drive, plus waiting at the pharmacy for antibiotics (always a necessary precaution for me), it was a relief to get home. Another three months of healing and trying not to chew on the right side of my jaw, and then it will be time for my dentist to put in the crown. Much as I dread this procedure, I’m glad I took care of it sooner than later. Being a Do Bee—on my own behalf— paid off. (And for those of you who remember Romper Room, here’s the official Do Bee song.)
Image: Jenna Lee