I have no fillings. This used to be a matter of some pride for me, except for one small detail. It’s mostly because I haven’t been to the dentist in 12 years. And “no fillings” is not the same as “no cavities”: the last time I was checked — back in 1996! — I had one or two very small cavities that, in dentists’ opinion, were too small to drill at the time, but they’d drill if they got worse.
In the intervening 12 years, I either had a dental plan, but life was too chaotic (graduate school, moving from city to city) to see a dentist, or I didn’t have a dental plan and was afraid of what it would cost. (Knowing, of course, that the longer I put it off, the more likely the dentist would find something, and the more expensive it would be. And a healthy — or in this case, unhealthy — dose of procrastination was certainly involved here.)
Yesterday, I finally got off my ass and saw the local dentist, who, after the hygienist had her way with a decade-plus of tartar buildup and sensitive gums, found a total of four cavities, which will receive fillings in a month or so. So much for 36 years of dodging the dental drill. Still no dental plan, but I’d set aside more than enough money for it.
Not that I’m unfamiliar with dental work. In addition to braces, I’ve had a total of 11 teeth pulled: four eye teeth along with three baby teeth that had yet to fall out, as part of the orthodontic work, as well as my wisdom teeth. (Remind me to tell you the story about how I got my wisdom teeth out on the same day that O. J. went on his slow-speed chase along the Interstate, and how I thought the news coverage of that event was a drug-induced hallucination. Me, the next morning: “You mean that actually happened?”)