I have always taken great pride in my teeth. I suppose it stems (as most things do) from my mother. I remember her telling me the story of my Granpa Groner who was interviewed at the age of 95 for a story in the Saturday Evening Post. The main gist of this interview had to do with the fact that at that ripe old age he not only had all his faculties in tact, but also everyone of his teeth. She has always impressed upon us how she, and certainly we, had these terrific teeth genes. Naturally, I was proud of them.

So you can imagine my shock when I was informed I would have to have a root canal. Groners do not have root canals. We study them, we paint them or we write about them…we do not have them. It appeared my genes had failed me.

My regular dentist, a truly wonderful and gifted man, had made the arrangements. I was to go to a dentist who for propriety’s sake (not to mention liability’s sake) shall henceforth be referred to as “Dr. X”. He specialized in root canals. I’m sorry, but nothing sounds more boring than making your life’s work root canals.

My dentist’s receptionist had been instructed by “moi” to tell Dr. X he absolutely must use nitrous oxide. You see, I have this nasty habit of fainting at the sight of a needle. His receptionist informed my dentist’s receptionist that he didn’t like to use it because the procedure was so long….one to two hours.   One to two hours?!?! ONE TO TWO HOURS!!!!!   Lord, have mercy.

Alas, the dreaded day arrived. I was seated in Dr. X’s waiting room surrounded by all those familiar smells thinking this sore tooth wasn’t so bad and making a long list of all the places I would rather be right then. I had just about talked myself into exiting the joint when the nurse came in to usher me into the operating room.

“I’m going to need nitrous oxide, at least for the shot”, I said, very matter-of-factly.

“You will need to talk to the doctor about that.” she added, also very matter-of-factly.

Soon, Dr. X came into the room and introduced himself. I introduced myself and in the same breath added,

“You know I tend to faint.”

I knew he was aware of that since I put it on my information card, not to mention getting the word from my dentist’s receptionist, and from his own nurse. Lord, I practically had it stamped on my forehead.

He looked at me with a faint hint of disgust on his face and said, very matter-of-factly.

“Do you, or don’t you faint?”

“I do faint.” I answered emphatically. What a jerk I thought to myself. Sometimes I do faint and sometimes I don’t. I did faint from Novocain, once…many years ago, in Denver, in Mamie Eisenhower’s dentist’s office….but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Without another word he very unceremoniously plopped the nitrous oxide mask on my nose. My visions of “feel good” gas and soft music were beating a hasty retreat back to my dentist’s office. Somehow, this guy’s bedside manner was ions away from my regular dentist.

“Do you have earphones?” I asked. A reasonable request, I thought.

“We don’t use earphones.”

Wait, this is a joke, right? Whoever heard of a dentist who didn’t use earphones?

“You will just have to sing to yourself” he retorted. What a jerk, I repeat. This guy obviously was unaware that even though the Groners have excellent teeth genes, their melodious vocal genes are sadly lacking. This guy was just going to have to learn who he was dealing with…

“Okay, whatever you say”, I responded meekly.

Nitrous oxide without the music just wasn’t the same. Sort of like cookies and milk. They just go together. I couldn’t even begin to relax knowing at any second, he would be coming into the room needle in hand.

Did I say needle? Let me rephrase that…NEEDLES, plural, MEGA plural. And all of a sudden they were all in my mouth, in places I didn’t even know I had in my mouth.

Then he quickly told me something he was going to do and before it actually registered he had done it. This is what he said:

“Now this last one might sting a little…it’s going to be in the roof of your mouth.”

The ROOF of your mouth??? This guy wasn’t Dr. X, he was Dr. Frankenstein. What was the deal here? I didn’t sign up for this.

Is this some kind of well kept secret? Does everyone on this earth know about shots in the roof of your mouth except me? and two hour procedures? and no earphones?   and no nitrous oxide?

I have never had anything hurt so badly in my life as that shot in the roof of my mouth, not even having a baby….well, maybe….having a baby.