I wrote awhile back about my traumatic visit to the hospital to check on stomach problems. Now I would like to balance that with a post about my completely un-traumatic visit to the dentist.

Apparently my wisdom tooth was a very clever little guy. He (apparently my tooth is a male. I will call him Gary) made my previous dentists think there were more than just one of him, and he waited over four years past the normal time wisdom teeth come down to make his appearance (I think Gary wanted to be fashionably late). I had a full mouth x-ray (at the hefty sum of around $100) before I left for Japan, and the dentist said I had only two wisdom teeth-- one on each side of my maxillary (that's the upper jaw for you yokels)-- and that they didn't look like they were coming down to bother me for awhile, so I should go to Japan without removing them. I know nothing about tooth migration, so I took the dentist's word for it. About two months ago my teeth seemed to start moving, and Gary the Smartypants actually broke through the skin. I debated back and forth if I should get rid of him, then after being told that dental work is really cheap in Japan, I decided to nip it in the bud and have Gary evicted.

I went to the dentist's office on Monday (my day off) with my friend, Nobu, just in case I needed someone to translate for me (plus, Nobu recommended the dentist and had to hear me complaining about jaw pain enough that he actually told me I should go to the dentist. I took that as him volunteering to come along). I filled out the obligatory first-timer forms and waited the obligatory half an hour until my name was called. Then I sat down in the giant, scary chair and told the doc in my best Japanese that I thought I had two wisdom teeth in my mouth. He did a physical examination and said, to my surprise, that I had one wisdom tooth and one tooth-shaped bone protuberance (I spelled that word correctly without spellcheck's help. Booyah). I looked at him in surprise, thinking he must be wrong because my American dentist said I had two wisdom teeth. I kept repeating in Japanese, "That's not a tooth? Not a tooth?" And he replied in English: "No tooth. Bone. Bone!" Then, probably because of all my bitching, he decided to do another full mouth x-ray. I thought, Great, now this visit will cost me my firstborn child. I was ushered into the x-ray room, given a lead vest, then told to stand in the appropriate spot while a red laser beam was directed onto my nose. The assistant left the room and turned on the machine. To my utter surprise and delight, the machine started playing "It's A Small World After All." I had to force myself not to laugh, for fear of messing up the x-ray.

I waited a bit for the doc to come back with the x-ray to show me, definitively, that I have one wisdom tooth and one bony protuberance. Then he asked what I wanted to do: leave it in my mouth to possibly hurt more and annoy me, or just yank it out. I decided to yank it out. Then the pain began. He injected a huge needle into my upper-left gums and began pumping me full of general anesthesia (also spelled that right the first time. Go me). This part hurt me much more than the actual tooth-yanking. But just in case it hurt, I asked if my friend Nobu could come in and, as the doc put it, "shake hands" while he was extracting. The doc pried Gary from his comfy little alcove and said, "finished!"

So many people had told me over and over again that having wisdom teeth removed is a huge pain and it hurts and you can't eat anything normal for a week, and it's really expensive. In my case, however, lil' ol' Gary was no problem at all. And the consultation, full mouth x-ray, tooth yanking with anesthesia, three kinds of medicine, and a check-up the next day cost me a grand total of about 3400 yen-- the equivalent of about $35. This is why I would love for our next president (please let it be Obama) to push for some kind of national health care plan.

The best part of the whole experience? I got to take Gary home with me.

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written by Ruthie @ 8:00 AM  
2 thoughts:
  • At 6/20/2008 9:30 AM, Blogger CLU said…

    love the cute little holder. so nihongo. i'm impressed he got it all in one piece. you go girl.

  • At 6/20/2008 8:12 PM, Blogger Becky said…

    I'm sorry, but Gary is grooooooss. Glad he was evicted; your mouth deserves better!

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Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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