Note for the squeamish: I won’t get into the gory details of what actually happens during a root canal. You don’t want to know. (Neither did I, but that’s another story.)
The road to a root canal goes like this: Your regular dentist can’t figure out why your teeth hurt so much that you’re considering hara-kiri, so he/she sends you to an endodontist. This is like being moved from the county jail to San Quentin.
How did the profession get saddled with the term “endodontist,” anyway? Who wants to visit a specialist with “end” in his name?
To be fair, my endodontist is a caring and highly competent professional. He also wears colorful ties, a la Dr. Flicker in “Blue Jasmine.” And he knows that my sensitive mouth needs “enough Novocaine for a mountain lion,” as a previous dentist discovered through trial and error.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here
I’ve been to this endodontic office several times, so I already know the drill (arr, arr). The waiting room, just as promised on the website, includes “soothing” features like a bubbling waterfall and a tank of colorful tropical fish. I’ve noticed, though, that those fish are smart enough to stay in the waiting room. Once you enter the torture – er, the exam room, you’re on your own. A therapy dog on one’s lap would be a nice touch, but doggie slobber and rolling tumbleweeds of hair are incompatible with ADA standards of cleanliness.
The patient’s chair, made of rich Corinthian leather, provides perfect neck and back support. It’s way more comfortable than a La-Z-Boy, and I’m looking into getting one for our living room. The staff even drapes you in a warm blanket. But as your limbic system relaxes, your cerebral cortex is screaming, “It’s a setup!”
Next, you choose a movie and watch it on an HD plasma screen while wearing headphones. There’s nothing like the horse-head scene from “The Godfather” to take your mind off what they’re doing to your mouth.
From here to eternity
The procedure lasts quite a while. Last time, Fredo was sobbing over the bullet-ridden body of Don Corleone when the technician finally shut off the WiFi and tilted my chair upright.
Unlike my regular dental office, this place doesn’t hand you a yummy milkshake on your way out. Maybe it’s because all that Novocaine makes it impossible to suck from a straw for about a week.
Oh, and here’s the best part. Sometimes a root canal doesn’t “take,” and you have to go through it all again. As Dr. Flicker explains it, dental nerves are like tree branches that get progressively smaller as they extend outward. The fact that my teeth still hurt means we need to send the Roto Rooter down there again.
So that’s where I’m going today. This time I’ll ask for “Gone With the Wind,” and I hope to get out of there before General Sherman burns Atlanta to the ground.