So I headed in for my appointment. It took a little longer to get there than I thought, but it still wasn't too bad. I knew I wouldn't be in the best of spirits after having my tooth pulled, but I still figured I could drive myself home easily enough. By now the pain was such a driving force I was desperate to get rid of it. I headed into the dental office and filled out the forms, eager to get the day behind me. In no time the dental assistant called me in and led me down a hallway to the examining room. She kept up a steady stream of chatter as she listened to my complaint and then asked me to open wide. Yes, she could see the offending tooth, and yes, she was sure the dentist would say it had to come out. In order to get a good view of this, they would need to do a scanning x-ray. Would that be okay with me?
Well I certainly didn't want them doing anything without getting an x-ray first! So I said sure. She led me back down the hall to a small room with an x-ray machine. There was a place to rest my chin and forehead and I almost got confused for a moment as to whether I was at the dentist's office or the eye doctor's. She already had me remove my earrings, and at the last minute I remembered my partial. I removed that, too, and placed on the paper towel on the counter. The assistant buzzed about, setting the machine, until her attention was captured by my partial.
"You have a nesbit!" She exclaimed.
I wasn't sure if that was a good or a bad thing. I started to apologize until I realized she was talking about my partial. She beamed at me. "You don't see those much any more."
I thought it best not to ask why. I needed to focus on the goal: get the wisdom tooth pulled. If I needed other dental work done, that could come later. Get rid of the pain. It almost became a mantra.
The x-ray machine had a metal plate that did a slow circle around my head. I guess that's why they call it a scanning x-ray. It worked well too, until it hit my shoulder as it went around. Even so, the picture was still clear. Moments later I was back in the dentist's chair and the assistant was calling my x-ray up on the computer monitor. They were all digital now, she informed me. That way the patient was exposed to less radiation. It made sense at the time. How was I supposed to know that radiation exposure was the least of my problems?