I went to the dentist tonight and almost escaped without incident or threat of a return visit.  Almost.  They say I need a crown.  I cannot accept this.  I have no scheme, no possible scenario in which I, a 29-year-old who grew up in the United States drinking fluoridated tap water, who faithfully brushes and flosses daily, and who doesn’t do anything stupid like bleach her teeth or gargle with acid, need a crown.   It just doesn’t make sense.

I can accept if my body has an issue.  I can go full-Monty to find a solution, a diagnosis, a treatment.  I am willing to undergo invasive testing, have cameras shoved down my throat, or tubes shoved up other parts.  If something goes wrong with my body, I want to find out how to fix it.

My teeth are a different story.  I take care of them, and all I ask in return is that they give me six months between Water-Pik torture sessions in the dental chair.  They have let me down again.  When I had my first cavity, I freaked out.  My dentist could sense this, and did all but hold my hand the whole time.  He even called later, from his home, to check on me.  Not on my oral state, but on my mental state.

He retired last month, and some random guy with a mask on his face told me I need a crown.  He doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my teeth, doesn’t know my history and my family.  He doesn’t know my old dentist had been watching “staining” settle into weird cracks in my teeth, and had been hesitant to drill.

I can’t trust him.  I can’t go back.  I can’t face any of it.  I couldn’t bring myself to ask any questions, so I don’t understand anything about it.  I can’t face my husband or my dogs or the “estimate” of $850 to repair what I can’t even accept is a defect.  My old dentist might just see it as staining.  Anyone else might be less alarmist, less drill-happy, and look further.

So, yeah, I have a healthy dose of denial.

I haven’t spoken since I walked in the door 2 hours ago.  I’m having a 29-year-old’s silent tantrum because I cannot process what is allegedly happening to my tooth.  If I keep my mouth shut, will it all go away?

We watched an episode of “Hoarders” yesterday, and one of the people on the show had a decent amount of insight into her problem.  She called herself a hoarder, called her house a mess, and knew it was time to do something.  Everything in the clean-up was going swimmingly, until Dr. Zasio, the condescending therapist called in to support the individual, pushed her too far.  She wanted her to give up a smelly, dirty old moving blanket.  And the woman refused, insisting it could be cleaned, bleached, used again.  Yet Dr. Zasio persisted, and pushed her too far.  She couldn’t read her client, couldn’t respond to her needs as an individual, hadn’t established enough rapport that the woman even trusted her.  The therapist herself was too wrapped up in the blanket, too insistent on what it symbolized.  The woman melted down, refusing to sort the heap in her home rationally, and exploding with mediagenic-drama, saying ,”Fine, throw everything out!  I don’t care.”  In her obsession with the blanket, Dr. Zasio had sabotaged the entire clean-up.  I spoke to the TV as her melt-down began.  Why didn’t they keep the stupid blanket for the time being, and show it again at the end, when the home is (relatively) beautiful and (relatively) clean, for the woman to make her own decision then, seeing the big picture?  Why did it have to happen then?  Why did they push so hard?

What followed was some analysis of the woman’s short fuse (or, in my household, the therapist’s insensitivity), and a discussion of how she cannot handle stressful incidents.  Like being pressured to throw away a filthy blanket.

Whatever her disordered mind may be going through, I am feeling a sort of identification, a kinship.  I’ve been given an ultimatum, with no decision, no choice in the matter.  I don’t trust the authority delivering the message.  Maybe to him, it’s no big deal.  Maybe he’s done dozens of crowns since he finished dental school last year.  Maybe to my parents, who grew up in a different era, and already have mouths full of metal and other foreign objects, it’s a routine inconvenience.  Maybe to my friend who lived in Russia for the first 12 years of her life, who has to accept the dental inferiority of the place she grew up, it’s just the cost of her heritage.  But it’s a little more to me.

I screamed as I drove home.  I wailed.  I’m too young.  It’s not supposed to happen to me.  What did I do for this to happen?  What didn’t I do?  What would my old dentist have said?  What would any other?  How many second opinions can I get before my tooth falls apart?  Why do I have to think about $850 for a crown when I’d rather think about earmarking that money for our trip to Ireland next week?  Why me?  Why does my husband have misaligned snaggly teeth that criss-cross his mouth every which way, but are still otherwise cavity-free and freakishly healthy?  It’s just not fair, and I can’t be expected to rationally consult my date book and make appointments 2 minutes after I’ve been told what’s wrong with me.  I can’t be expected to calmly make plans when I’m still mourning, grieving, processing, and, oh yeah, still in denial.

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