Dental Saga: Part Two

On April 4, I went to the dentist for a root canal after intense pain all weekend. After 30 minutes of drilling and grinding the dentist stopped and sat me up and said he was having trouble finding one canal. I can find it, he said, but at this point i’m likely to destroy the tooth. He recommended pulling the tooth and inserting an implant. Okay, i said.

He had a horrible time pulling out the roots. He levered and drilled and kept calling for the pliers and then the lever and then the pliers and said he had never seen a tooth that wouldn’t come out like this one and my blood rose up the suction tube right in front of my eyes and he wanted the pliers again and he pulled and twisted and tugged and would of sworn if he weren’t Mormon but was surely swearing in his head and on and on and then hit a nerve under the abscess that had brought me in originally and for the 20th time shot more anesthetic into the area and took up the pliers again and . . . you get the picture.

Here’s what it looked like when he was done:


He then put in a bone graft from a cadaver and stitched up the wound and I walked out in shock, chilled to the bone, and drove straight home.

That was part 1.

Today part 2.

The plan was to surgically implant a titanium screw:


After the tooth removal, I was more leery of the dentist than usual. His assistant asked if I wanted laughing gas. I was about to say yes when the sound system started playing the Greatful Dead’s “Looks Like Rain” and by the end of the first verse

But I’ll still sing you love songs, written in the letter of your name.
The rain is gonna come, oh it surely looks like rain.

I was feeling just fine and declined the laughing gas.

The assistant left for a minute and I took a quick photo of the instruments on the table in front of me.


That wasn’t reassuring.

The dentist came in and inserted his horse needle into both sides of my jaw and squirted and squirted the painkiller. This procedure won’t be nearly as bad as the last one, he said.

I had no reason to believe him.

He started drilling — a slow, head-rattling vibration, repeated three times with, I supposed, three different drills. He started screwing the implant into the hole with what seemed like an allen wrench. And then he was done.

Was that an allen wrench? I asked. A very expensive one, he answered.

$1350 was the bill.

Here’s what the jaw looks like now:


Part 3 to come — several months from now.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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