Ordinarily, I’m wary of all things dental.  I had too many cavities as a child.  As a young man, I had a root canal done on the wrong tooth, followed immediately be the correct one.  My dental memories are a bit tainted.  Not an indictment of the entire profession so much as a kind of PPSD…post procedure stress disorder.

But when I moved to South Carolina, my wife and I found a wonderful general dentist in Dr. Ronald Moore, in Seneca, SC.  Rarely would I ascribe the words ‘painless dentistry’ to one of the practitioners of that esteemed profession.  But I have to give credit where credit is due.  His hygenists, and Dr. Moore, have all been the pinnacle of gentility.  Even my children aren’t afraid to go for cleanings.  And when I need anesthesia, well Dr. Moore is an artist with a needle.  Heck, if he were a tattoo artist, I’d think about it…

Sadly, when I was recently in his office for a crown, he felt that I first needed a root canal.  The very words inspire vague nausea and general panic.  From my own experience, ‘root canal’ is right up there with ‘waterboarding,’ ‘fingernail removal’ and ‘shark attack.’ 

Still, I knew I had to ‘cowboy-up’ and have it done.  My tooth was too painful and too annoying to ignore.  So, with my oldest son, Samuel, along to drive (in case I needed some sort of veterinary tranquilizer), I went to Dr. Mark Bowers in Easley, SC.

The appointment was scheduled for 2 PM, and as I live and breath, I walked out at 3PM.  Although I was less burdened by pesky money as I left the facility, I was pain free.  I was in possession of a shiny new root canal.  And I had been witness to what can only be described as a ballet of endodontics.

Dr. Bowers and his assistant, Amber, practically pirouetted over my tooth.  The anesthesia was the opening music as the show began, and as the performance took off in earnest,  all I saw, heard and felt was a whir of drills, burrs and fillings punctuated with aersolized bits of tooth and old filling, flying in microscopic, aerosolized jettes.   Like partners who had done the dance for thousands of audiences (which they likely had, and for a bit more change than your average dancer), the ballet was exquisite.  In fact, when it was over I really wanted to stand up, applaud and whistle.  But it was a quiet office, and my lips were numb, so there you are.

I think that when we pay our bills for services like that, it’s easy to focus on the money and entirely ignore the years of education, the dedication to excellence and the remarkable perfection that comes with doing complex, exacting procedures over, and over and over.

When I left, I shook his hand and thanked his assistant profusely.  As a physician, I can appreciate excellence.  Granted, as an emergency physician I don’t have to engage in that sort of exacting precision very often, unless it’s reattaching a piece of lip removed by a  canine, or pulling a plastic bead from a nostril.  And granted, many of my patients are less in need of anesthesia than sobriety.  But I can admire a job well done.

So to all of those involved in repairing my poor tooth, thank you!  Take a bow! 

Artists come in many forms, and I can now add ‘dentist’ to the list of arts I have truly learned to appreciate.  They’ll come in right above Italian opera and interpretive dance.

Edwin

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