Pulling out old dental dilemmas

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, August 28, 2011

Individually, dentists are good people.

    Collectively? Not so much.

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    I imagine I’m like a lot of people who hate going to thedentist.

    If I could get those “No cavities; see you in six months” dentalevaluations, I think I’d like dentists more. Instead, all my lifemy visits have been, “fillings … blah, blah, blah … root canals(plural) … blah, blah, blah.”

    I’m sure the “blah, blah, blah” had something to do with regularbrushing and flossing. And that’s certainly good advice.

    I took that advice early on, but for some reason I never saw goodresults. It was always more fillings for cavities and eventuallymore involved procedures.

    When I was a child, my dental visits involved a mixture of pain andpleasure.

    Usually, Mom, my grandmother and I would make a day of going toJackson for me to see the dentist. Why we didn’t go to one inVicksburg I never knew, but I suspect it had something to do withthe after-appointment activities.

    We would go to the old medical arts building on State Street to seemy dentist, I think his name was Finch.

    I don’t have fond memories.

    With its medicinal, antiseptic atmosphere, his office was nearlythe polar opposite of today’s dentist’s offices with theirtypically bright colors and “Smile!” posters everywhere. The powerof positive persuasion wasn’t practiced much in 1970s.

    After the unpleasantness of the visit to the dentist, the rest ofthe day would be spent doing what’s now called “retail therapy.”I’d usually come home with a new toy and all the agony of thedentist’s visit – and those admonishments about dental hygiene -faded into memory.

    As I got older, new dentists started practicing in Vicksburg and wevisited several of them. I can’t remember the progression, butevery couple of years I was seeing a new one – usually after thelast one had done one too many root canals.

    Contrary to what some may say figuratively, I don’t have a “bigmouth” literally.

    As such, any extended dental procedures would cause my jaws to achefor hours afterwards. I hated that feeling and it was likely acause for my continual dentist search.

    As I said, most of the dentists I’ve visited over the years havebeen friendly people whom I know were genuinely concerned about mydental health. I had a good rapport with them during thevisits.

    Nevertheless, problems persisted. I think part of my dental issuestraces to heredity, as Mom did not have strong teeth, either.

    I remember in my teen years being told I could not get bracesbecause my teeth were too soft. Not that I wanted that typical teenrite of passage, but still braces may could have helped.

    A good number of years ago, I had to have a crown placed on one ofmy teeth. It was so long ago that I often forgot it was eventhere.

    I was reminded the other day while enjoying a really good hamburgerduring a trip back to Vicksburg.

    I knew something was amiss when I bit on a hard object. I soonrealized it was the crown that had finally come loose.

    After a quick visit to my dentist earlier this week, the crown issafely back in place. I’m also looking at some longer-term answersto my dental questions.

    My dental path in life has traveled a rocky road, but dentists havebeen there to at least try and make the journey a little smoother.Maybe they’re not so bad after all.

    That’s all for now.

    Write to Managing Editor Matthew Coleman at P.O. Box 551,Brookhaven MS 39602, or send e-mail tomcoleman@dailyleader.com.