Fun at the dentist
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - March 24, 2019 - 12:00am

The last time I saw my three daughters was at my wedding. There — almost together — they said, “Mom, you should have your teeth fixed.” In that sense I was not at all like my mother. My mother loved her teeth, would not let anything wrong happen to them. If she lost a filling she would take a jeep, taxi, tricycle — though often enough she used my car — to immediately go to her dentist and have it fixed.

I don’t know why I lost one tooth on the left side of my face a long time ago. But when I worked in the upper echelons of management and made a lot of money I asked my friends to recommend a dentist and he did my teeth. He gave me two bridges — one upper, one lower and for some time I looked like I had perfect teeth. These two bridges cost me a lot of money but I was earning well so I paid. They stayed until a few years after I retired.

Then, one day, I was in Davao. I don’t even remember why. My upper bridge fell off. We were in Davao for a whole week. When we returned I didn’t go rushing back to my dentist.  By the time I did my gums had changed shape and the bridge had to be changed but I couldn’t afford it. So I went around missing some teeth. It shows when I smile. On the left side of my face there was a clear gap. I also have one on the right side of my face but that’s a little more interior and not so obvious.

So last year at my wedding my daughters decided to send me to their dentist. After a year — yes, I wrote “a year” because that’s how long it took me to try to make an appointment — I texted back. Someone told me they could see my child on a certain day. I texted back, “I am 74 years old.  The dentist is for me not for my ‘pedia.’ Please give me an appointment.” I never heard from them again. So here I was in search of a reliable dentist who would not scold me and who would work on the insides of my mouth, putting teeth where I have none. By the way, the reason why this became rather urgent was suddenly I had a moving tooth and it hurt. I needed help fast.

Once again my cousin Mandy saved the day. She gave me the name of a female dentist whose clinic was near where I lived: Tina Antonio Roxas. I texted for an appointment and immediately got a reply. She looked into my mouth, didn’t look distressed, didn’t scold me. I told her I was planning to travel to attend a family wedding in the third week of April and she said she could get all my teeth in by then. Of course, it will cost me but it will be nice to have my “teeth” complete in my mouth at last.

I have been going to see my dentist every Monday for the past three weeks. She has the greatest dental chair. You almost lie down in it. Maybe most dental chairs are like that these days but since I have not been to the dentist in at least 20 years everything is new to me. The drill is not as noisy as it used to be when I was a little girl. I hated the sound of that drill buzzing in my head through my mouth. And the small plaster of paris dwarves that our dentist gave us after drilling did not in any way make dentistry any better for me, though I have to admit those tiny critters were unforgettable.

Then there was my Tito Paquito Herbosa, our family dentist, who was very funny. I remember him fondly though I also remember the discomfort of having all those utensils in my mouth and him making a statement and asking you to agree or disagree and all you could do was make sounds that were supposed to say, “I can’t talk when my mouth is full.”

But today’s dentist, Tina, is really cool. She had to pull out two of my remaining teeth. She would say, “This will hurt a little because it’s anesthesia and I’m putting it in the back.” It’s true, it hurt a little but it was tolerable. I had to eat really soft noodles afterwards but I love overcooked linguini and spaghetti so I enjoyed that. But now we’re done with the arduous part of the dental work. Now we are moving into her drilling dentures into the least intrusive fit, so she’s drilling, but not in my mouth. I love that!

I realize now that I really did the right thing by procrastinating on dental work. Now I am old and accepting denture work. Really, getting old is more fun than I thought.

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