Over the course of an hour, during my unexpected root canal, I looked at the only thing in front of me on the wall. A large poster advertising perfect smiles, with before and after photographs, labelled with the problem underneath the before smile: 1) gap between front teeth (I thought of my younger brother and Lauren Hutton, the actress and model.)
2) stained teeth or unevenly colored teeth (I didn't have time to think of anyone except myself as Novocaine wore off while the dentist did something that made me levitate in pain off the chair.)
3) missing teeth (I thought of hockey players and my goalie grandson, who is still losing his baby teeth, in addition to goalie tooth loss, in general.)
4) receding or sensitive gumlines (Honestly, by this time, I felt like this could be my salvation.)
NEVER WORRY AGAIN ABOUT YOUR SMILE. GUARANTEED FOR AT LEAST 20 YEARS. THIS IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ADVANCEMENT IN DENTISTRY IN 4,600 YEARS (So, I did the math, thinking if I get this done now, I'll have a perfect smile until I'm 80 years old. Simultaneously, I wondered why they picked 4,600 years...kind of an unusual number, but then I remembered some creationist Christians believe the Earth is younger, despite the fossil record and carbon dating.)
When the dentist was done with his torture, I asked him what the process entailed. He was making notes on his computer about my teeth, his back to me. "Don't get it done. First I'd have to roughen up the surface of all your teeth. You're too sensitive, like my wife. You and your fibromyalgia. The most significant advancement in dentistry is the use of Lidocaine. In Russia," he paused, as if in great and deep anguish, "in Russia, teeth are a big problem, so I come here. My children, they do not know how bad life can be."
Today I have a two hour appointment. He advised against it, but I said, "If I'm going to get vertigo, I want it all at once and not during the holiday season." And who knows if I'll still have dental insurance next month...