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Teeth cleanings and memories


It seems I can never get to a dentist appointment on time. I don't know what it is, but even when I try really hard, I still end up late. Sigh.

Had my teeth cleaned this morning. I'm fairly religious about my 6 month teeth cleanings. They may average every 6.5 months, but I go nominally twice a year. I was at the dentist about 2 months ago with some sensitivity in my lower right molars. Turned out to be bruised roots from clenching my jaw, and not cavities, so I'm trying not to clench so much.

As a result of said tooth sensitivity, today's cleaning was surprisingly painful. At one point, the dental hygenist (can I just call her the tooth fairy?), jabbed the little hook thingy into my gum between two back molars and pulled. When my gum didn't immediate come out, she puzzled, "Something sticky is in there."

Yeah, my flesh!

The experience reminded me of my dentist/orthodontist from childhood, Virgil Gassoway. My aunt Sonnie was quite enamoured with the fellow, and encouraged us to see him as our dentist. At some point, I think Mom was enamoured, too, so off we went.

For the record, Gassoway had horrible "bedside" manners. When tightening a band on one of my braces, he slipped and gouged the inside of my jaw. I was gushing blood. His response? "Hold still, I'm not done." No apologies, no cleaning of the gushing blood, just a "hold still damn child lest I beat you when your mother isn't looking."

I had more head X-rays with that man than the rest of my life combined. I suspect he'll be the cause of any brain cancer I get when I'm 97.

He was also my first orthodontist. Somehow Chris managed to avoid braces as a child. Beej and I were not so lucky. The deal, however, was that we went to Gassoway. Now, Gassoway wasn't really an orthodontist. He wasn't trained to do any moving-of-the-teeth, only cleaning-of-the-teeth and repairing-of-the-teeth. Actually, he didn't even do those well. He was recently (5-6 years ago maybe?) sued for leaving a broken drill bit in the tooth of a patient and filling the cavity anyway. Ever wonder why mamma keeps buzzing when she walks through the airport metal detector? Blame Gassoway. (not really)

To do orthodontics, Gassoway would take photos and molds of his patients mouths, and take such documentation to orthodontia conventions. What would you do with this mouth, he'd ask. He'd then come back, and adjust the braces or give the Frankel (which, according to my little brother who had one, is just a little less barbaric than head gear).

There's the outside thought that maybe, just maybe, I dislike the man so much because he pulled four of my teeth out (first teeth behind the eye teeth), rather than suggesting space maintainers and roof expanders that later real orthodontists suggested for me. In high-school, I wore a retainer that expanded the roof of my mouth by a 1/4", leaving gaps that, oh, I don't know, say, two teeth could fill. But saying that's the cause of my dislike ignores the incompetence of the man, and the lifelong harm he's caused.

So let's just say he sucks.

Because he does.