Well Shut My Mouth

A few weeks ago I noticed that one of my teeth seemed to be a little bit angry. It wasn’t throwing a full-blown temper tantrum or anything like that, but it was definitely annoyed. I kept waiting for the pain to go away, and while some days were better than others, there was always a lingering something going on, even when I tried my best to pretend Okay! All better now! I really think it’s better! Must have just been a little sensitive!

I knew that I needed to call the dentist, but I put it off because, well, I was scared. This has absolutely nothing to do with my dentist, who happens to be a delightful and personable man, but it has everything to do with some painful experiences that I had at the dentist’s office as a child. My childhood dentist was a really kind man, but the late 70s were a different dental time. I mean, Alex’s dentist has patient rooms that are built around a giant aquarium. Kids get to wear cool sunglasses, pick their favorite flavor toothpaste for cleaning and select a prize from the toy chest at the end of their visit.

But when I was growing up? We pretty much just sat on a folding chair in a cinder block room and waited for the dentist to walk in with his pliers and ice pick. There may have even been a sign that said “NO MERCY” above the doorframe.

So, given all those special memories I have from childhood trips to the dentist, I’m not always as proactive as I should be when it comes to dealing with something like a toothache. However, last Sunday night I was at church when that tooth – the one that had been annoyed for a few days – decided to bring it with THE FULL-ON SMACKDOWN. Oh my word it SMARTED. It hurt so much, in fact, that biting my lip really hard was the only way to get my mind off the pain. And when I finally got home and took an Excedrin Migraine, I decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to also rub Icy Hot all over the left side of my face. It stung like the dickens, but it helped.

Needless to say, I called the dentist’s office the next day.

Tuesday morning I saw my regular dentist, and after he looked around for a few minutes and did a quick x-ray, he told me that I needed a root canal and a crown. So basically, you know, ACES.

This morning I went to an oral surgeon for the root canal, and y’all, I am here to tell you that THE MAN HAS A GIFT. He was incredibly kind and patient – and I didn’t feel a thing. Not even the shots. Now granted, I used the nitrous oxide because the sound of a dentist’s drill is my least favorite sound in the world and makes me all nervous and anxious and fidgety, but I honestly didn’t feel a second’s discomfort.

We’ve come a long way since the days when we had to sit on folding chairs, my friends.

After I finished at the oral surgeon’s I had to go to my regular dentist’s office so that they could fit me with a temporary crown (for some reason all this talk of dental procedures makes me feel like my name is Mildred and I just got fitted for a fresh set of dentures). Since they were using that buffer/sander/high-pitched whirling dervish thing-y that also makes me hark back to the days of the NO MERCY dentist, I got the day’s second round of nitrous oxide – which, as you know, is A LOT for a Baptist.

As best I could tell my regular dentist had the laughing gas dialed up a notch or nine compared to the oral surgeon, and I say that because Mama here was a wee bit loopy. I kept thinking about stuff that was straight from the heart of crazytown: contemplating whether or not Melanie and I should dress up in costumes at LifeWay’s .MOM event this fall, wondering if I have ever fully appreciated the fact that tennis is a sport for a lifetime (note: I do not play tennis), comparing the Zaxby’s chocolate shake to the Chick-fil-A vanilla shake and thoughtfully considering the merits of both, etc. and so forth and so on amen.

(And come to think of it, the laughing gas probably had nothing at all to do with that whole milkshake thing. I could do a shake-to-shake comparison on any given day of the week, really.)

So all that to say: it’s been a big day. I’m about to grab a blanket, settle in on the couch, turn on Food Network, and try to rest a little bit before suppertime rolls around.

My new tooth and I are just as tickled as we can be.
Don’t forget that the Compassion Bloggers are in the Philippines this week. This post of Emily’s is so humbling and so beautiful – as is this post of Stephanie’s. If you’ve been on the fence in terms of sponsoring a child through Compassion, I hope you’ll read what they have to say.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email


  1. I feel your pain (literally); I have never had a bad dental experience (well except fir ALL OF THEM) but I was born with weak teeth. That means every trip to the dentist is always bad news! Too bad we don’t have Austin Power’s standards for teeth these days!

  2. Whew. I feel your pain. I had a root canal not long ago, and I’m going back for my crown this weekend. Worst part- none of that fancy, I-don’t-have-a-care-in-the-world laughing gas. None. Not a fun day with these nerves. Glad to hear everything went well, and I can promise that you will be glad you did it- no more pain here!

  3. Terrie Cash says:

    Once again, you have me laughing hysterically to the point my daughter had to know what was so darn funny.

    A week ago she had her 3 wisdom teeth taken out so she can so relate to the laughing gas while I can only imagine the scenes at the two different offices. If you are anything like my daughter, you gave them material to talk about for at least a few hours if not a few days.

    Glad you and your angry tooth are doing much better.


  4. Hi. I’m so sorry, but this was really funny! :) I hope your pain gets better soon!
    I am a Christian teen girl who just started a blog with crafts and inspirational stories. I would love if you would check out my blog at http://www.projectpaperie.blogspot.com.
    Thanks and keep up the great writing!

  5. Valerie says:

    I am 32 and so far I have had 2 bridges (the equivalent of 4 crowns each), 4 regular crowns, 2 root canals and most recently a lingual frenectomy. I swear I look normal and have normal teeth – just really bad luck. (also – thank GOD for my flexible spending account) Preaching to the choir sister! I must say that with all my experience with my many dentists – you have to firmly ASK for that nitrous oxide. Some give it freely, some are stingy and make you pay for it (really??) and everyone has their own level of flow for the stuff. Sometimes I am mildly loopy and sometimes I feel like I have downed a bottle of vodka. My favorite and current dentist likes to joke and ask if I would like a glass or wine or two margaritas! (2 please). I do feel your pain and am glad you are over the worst!

  6. Thankfully I’ve had no real dental issues as an adult.

    My childhood dentist’s name was Dr. Payne, and he was in practice with Dr. Con.


  7. Did you grow up in Richmond, VA? Because I think we had the same childhood dentist! Due to all that “childhoold trauma”, I still don’t like going to the dentist!!

  8. Such a funny post, Sophie! It is the kind of post that makes me giddy at the thought of reading your book.

  9. As a former certified dental assistant you had me rolling! I’m sorry. I know your toothache wasn’t funny, but your description of what you were feeling on the nitrous just made me giggle. When I had my wisdom teeth removed I made my dentist (also my boss) promise not to kick it up too high because I just KNEW I would say something completely inappropriate and stupid. I’m not sure he complied to my wishes, but since I can’t remember most of it I guess it’s OK.

    Talk of aquariums in dental offices reminded me of my favorite kiddie movie, Nemo. The dental scenes and the talk of K-flex vs. Nordstrom files, plus all the other dental jargan and fears was spot on. Did they use K-flex or Nordstrom for your root canal?

  10. I love love love laughing gas. Seriously. When I was a kid, I had lots of tooth ish-ahs. In my baby book (that should tell you I started with the dental woes pretty early!) my mom wrote under Interesting Habits: “Sarah loves going to the dentist.” That was strictly for the drugs, mom! I’m a Baptist, too. Gotta get it where we can, right?? LOL

  11. Oh my, do I feel ya on the dentist thing.
    Just got myself a new crown. . welcome to being almost 40.

    Get some rest!

  12. I also got to see my dentist today. It was a nice visit except for the part where I have to go back in two weeks and fix one of my crowns. And it was going so well too…

    I am laughing at your thoughts/conversation on laughing gas, and wishing my dentist used the stuff still. I would love to be a bit “out of it” when I have work done!

  13. p.s. we already found room in the budget finally – and sponsored our first compassion child earlier this week!

  14. I had to do all that last year, too! I’m only thirty flippin four…why all the dental problems all of a sudden?! And–yay me–my crown broke a few weeks ago, so I get to go get a new one put on in a couple of weeks. I really know how to kick off a summer! ;) luckily it’s been less than a year so I don’t have to pay for it. I blame the sour patch kids for it all.

  15. Looks like you have a lot of company in the root canal department! I had my first one this year too — on one of my top FRONT teeth. Apparently, my tooth died sometime and it’s been just fine for years . . . lo, decades even.

    Circa 2000, my dentist took the x-ray to a convention to show his pals the freaky dead tooth that wasn’t turning colors. Except then it started to — late last year, one of my kids asked me why my tooth was tan. Nice. So, in he went with ye olde drill.

    Eat looks of pudding, ice cream, etc. tonight . . . or maybe a shake!

  16. For some reason a couple of years ago I agreed (had my arm twisted) to accompany a friend of mine to her son’s dental appointment. When we pulled up it looked strangely familiar and I got a case of the nervous laughs. I asked what the name of her son’s dentist was and it was THE SAME ONE I went to as a little bitty annie. To say I had issues with the way my dentist conducted visits is a huge understatement. I got all sweaty and nervous being in there and I hated every second of this visit. Same smells, same office and same doctor. (I’m 38 so shouldn’t he be like 94 by now?) I finally decided to drop the grudge though on one of my final visits when they put me in my own little private room for the four tooth extractions he was going to perform. They cranked that laughing gas up full blast and proceeded to forget about me back there. About 30 minutes later the nurse about knocked the door down and screamed, “I think she’s ready!” Then I screamed for them to not turn it off. That’s the day I fell in love with laughing gas.

  17. Cinder blocks? NO MERCY? Finally, someone understands my torment!

    The last time I needed nitrous oxide, I STILL had tears streaming down my face. Doc said he had it cranked to the level required for a full grown man and didn’t feel safe dialing it up anymore. His recommendation for next time was a tequila shot from the Mexican place next door or a Valium/ chauffer combo.

    A LOT for a Baptist? That’s some ‘slap-your-granny’ funny.

  18. Speaking of Baptist? My post from yesterday.


  19. Jennifer says:

    I am ALL about some Nitrous Oxide…..! I do not like the smell of my tooth being grounded to the size of a piece of Chiclet gum or the sound. Hygenists just look at me and say, “FOR REAL”…..yes FOR REAL. If you were brave like me and decided to check out what the internet has to say about root canals you may think they need to be performed under general anesthesia and in an OR suite. But loopy Nitrous got me through !

  20. We had a dental experience around here last week. Child 2 had some work done and spent close to 45 minutes with the laughing gas. We got a glimpse of what intoxicated Emma would be like. OH.MY.WORD. She was hysterical. After we left, we headed to have lunch w/ daddy. She was allowed a milkshake, but that was okay w/ her. What had us cracking up was her freaking out that she could only flare one nostril. We may have taken a video for later use. :) We are nothing but classy around here. :)

    Seriously, glad you are feeling better. I would rather give birth than have dental issues. :)

    Hope to see you at DS next week! I’ll have mom and Emma w/ me.


  21. I have chosen the denial path in tooth pain, too, and my pain implosion/explosion/eruption occured on an Easter Sunday as i was welcoming a houseful of guests to a baked ham dinner after church. I had to turn my home and dinner table over to everyone else while I crawled into bed with stat pain pills that caused me to lose a day of my life. Good times. (And PS: Are you sure all those random thought were really just THOUGHTS and not spoken out loud? I head I had no filter over my mouth when on the oxide…Just saying.)

  22. Too funny. I was at the dentist today too. I still do hate the dentist, but you’re right–it’s much better than the Dark Ages of our childhoods.
    P.S. I want aquarium-themed dentist’s offices too!

  23. Aww… That IS a lot for a Baptist!!! You better go fix you a little something to eat and go take a little nap… I’m glad you & your tooth are all fixed up now:)

    My grandmother was our dentist’s receptionist, so my early dental memories are clouded by having to get all dressed up in the frilly bubble suits my grandmother bought me (80’s). That’s probably a good thing, because our dentist was OLD SCHOOL and didn’t wear gloves when taking care of people whom he considered family…

    Yes, you read that correctly! I’m a nurse and just typing that sentence just about did me in!!! But apparently when they were in dental school, they were taught that wearing gloves was offensive to the patient. I’m so glad I wasn’t a nurse back then!

  24. Oh my goodness, you are just too funny!!!

    I have just started reading your blog and I feel like I should introduce myself! So, hi I ( am sticking out my hand to shake yours), I’m Keisha, a Southern mama, a Baptist pastor’s wife and a pediatric dental assistant. Being that I chose dentistry as my career, I thought that your post was sooo funny, especially the line ” I had my second dose of Nitrous Oxide for the day, and that’s a lot for a Baptist”. I completely understand what you mean though!

    Take care and I am going to keep on reading your blog!

  25. OUCH!! Glad you are doing better and it is all over.
    Just for the record, I am totally for you and Melanie dressing up for the Dot Mom event. You guys would be cute in anything. :-)

  26. Reminds me of the time my sweet Baptist mama got a bit giggly on the gas at our family dentist and proclaimed loudly, “Oh! I’ve never been on drugs before!”.

    They made a note in her file to use the N.O. sparingly thereafter.

  27. Lisa S. says:
  28. The only reason I got to the dentist is for the nitrous oxide.

    I kid! I kid!

    But I know exactly how you feel and know all too well those 1970’s dental offices and I do believe that those early practices are why “sedation dentistry” is all the rage right now! Glad your tooth is on the mend! :)

  29. You are the funniest person in the world.

  30. I had laughing gas when I had my wisdom teeth out, and it was awful! I didn’t feel anything, but I threw up non-stop for about 24 hours. I still think I’d choose it over feeling the pain of the dental procedure though. I’m such a wimp!

  31. Meredith says:

    Well, I was already chuckling when I read, “it SMARTED,” but then you just had me guffawing when I read, “you know, ACES.” Sometimes I don’t know what I’d do without your blog in my life.

  32. My orthodontist growing up was the worst! He would constantly ‘slip’ when he was changing the bands on my braces and cut my gums. One time he hurt me so badly that my natural reaction was to nearly slap him…I caught myself at the last second but he looked horrified. I guess it scared him enough that from that point on he always told me to ‘sit on my hands’ any time he came into the room. I would never want to re-live the days of braces!

  33. Christina says:

    Oh I feel your pain! I had my last, in a long series, dentist appointment on Wednesday. I was actually relieved because it was “only” for a cleaning!

    I apparently have “groovy” teeth. Not groovy as in cool, though. Groovy as in deep grooves that capture every.single.particle.of.anything….and cause cavities. All of my molars now have fillings. One is headed for a crown the next time anything happens to it. And last summer, on July 4th night, I broke one of my wisdom teeth which pretty much sealed the deal that they had to go ASAP. And so they did the very next day, with my first ever round of nitrous oxide and an oral sedative. Let me tell you….that oral sedative was some seriously good stuff. I fell asleep waiting to have my wisdom teeth out. (Mind you, I didn’t even manage to fall asleep the entire night before from anxiety.)

    Anyhow, this is the long way of saying that I can totally relate, I LOVED your post (well, all of them) and I’m glad you and your new tooth are happy again.

  34. My dentist is one of my best friends and I still have a bit of fear about going to her for actual work on my teeth. Needles and drills have no place in the mouth.

    Hope you are feeling better!

  35. Can’t believe I stumbled upon your dental saga, Boomama, inasmuch as I’d written about a similar experience recently. http://www.fitwomenover60.com/category/pearly-whites/ Of course, you’re a youngster so I’m hopeful you’ll get your phobia in hand before you reach my demographic. Ha.

    God bless you, dear heart.

  36. I am 58 so the teeth issues have been going on for a while now. But in childhood, mom used to take us 17 miles away to Dr. Drill-Fill-and Bill. The only thing he knew how to do back then was drill to China and then fill it with a nice dark gray filling. There was no nice gas, no frills of any kind. And because we were 17 miles from home we all had to go at the same time. So you waited the whole day in that smell, listening to your brothers and sisters go through the high pitched Whirling Dervish thingie. It was a joy let me tell you. We all wanted to be first just to get it over with, but someone had to be last eh?
    Crowns – God bless em but they aren’t worth the money they are printed on. I’ve had the same one replaced 3 times – it just won’t stay on.

    Hope you got your rest – cuz you deserved it after that.

    Hugs from Minnesota

  37. Oh, for the love of nitrous.

    I too had a “No Mercy” dentist, but it was when I got my wisdom teeth removed. I was 22, and my dentist removed ALL FOUR TEETH in his office and I only had Novocaine and nitrous for the entire procedure. Yes, that’s right. They sat me in the chair on the gas for at least 30 minutes before I even got the Novocaine shots, and I was listening to my yellow waterproof Walkman at a volume of 11. By the time they got started with the extractions, I was so loopy that my body parts were having conversations with each other. My head would tell my finger, “Hey Finger! Turn up the volume more!” and my Finger would reply, “Sure thing! I love this song!”

    I don’t know how in the world I DROVE MYSELF HOME safely, but I do know my laughing gas hangover was indeed the worst I have ever felt. (But it wasn’t so bad that I don’t ask for it for any procedure involving any humming noises whatsoever.)

  38. So with all the stress and anxiety and uncomfortable underwear in the world – don’t you think a nitrous oxide spa would be available to the public – properly overseen by nice motherly ladies in some cute pants outfit from the Steinmarts of course. We could have a short snort and a teeny bit of a zonk out in comfy cushiony chairs and when we fully awoke – there would be a nice container supper for us to take home so we wouldn’t come down too quickly to the reality type world of what the blazes to make for supper? ah a girl can dream

  39. Debbie in Texas says:

    Oh my! I need a root canal/crown too! Except that my insurance won’t cover it until August! Yes. I am going to try to wait, but I’m not sure I’ll make it. I am totally going to try that Icy Hot stuff the next time my {broken} tooth gets angry. The heat pack helps so I’m sure the Icy Hot will too. Without the part about me walking around holding a rice bag to my jaw.

  40. When I got my wisdom teeth pulled, that gas was like crack. It made me so happy. And they’re no joke about the whole laughing-gas thing. I’ve never been funnier. To myself.

    And thanks for your kind mention of our trip to the Philippines. Shaun Groves had such lovely things to say about you – said of all the bloggers he’s ever taken on a trip, you are the one who stands out as the person who is most like her blogging voice. I think that is a high compliment.