Today I went to the dentist.

In preparation for the loss of my health insurance, I had to get permanent crowns put on two teeth I had root canalled a few years back. Might as well get it all out of the way at once, so today I sat in a chair for two and a half hours, while noises like a slow-motion car wreck occurred in my mouth, and two laconic interns studied the process and applied copious amounts of clotting medium. (Ursula’s a bleeder.)

“What’s that gunk?” I asked, as they pried a purple goop with an imprint of my stubs of molars out of my numb lips.

“It’s to take an impression, honey,” said the dental assistant.

“No, I know. What IS it?”

She blinked. Apparently people do not regularly ask the composition of the purple goop. She turned the vial and haltingly read off a multi-syllabic name, the important bit of which was “vinyl.” (It’s definitely an improvement over other forms of goop I’ve been subjected to, which generally were more like cement, I must say. This stuff peeled off nicely once it had set.)

Then back to the drilling and the grinding and the clotting and the “Hmm, I’m gonna have to rebuild up this tooth, there’s not enough left on it…” and other scary noises. My mouth has that limp, swollen Novacaine feeling, and I was handed four ibuprofen on the way out the door, with a warning that I was in for an exciting three days. (Gums grow up quite a bit in three years, and must be carved down so that enough tooth is exposed to anchor the crown. Bad things have occurred in the back of my jaw.)

For the privilege of these lengthy two hours, I paid a chilly thousand dollars.


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