Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Visit to the Dentist: Part II

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A Visit to the Dentist: Part II

We had to wait about half an hour before the dentist returned. The last time I had been to the dentist with my mother I was in the dentist’s chair and she sat nearby, so it felt strange sitting there with my mother in a reversal of roles. What was not like the long-ago trip to the dentist, though, was our conversation. Whenever my mother is in an unfamiliar place she gets very confused, and this time it was no different. My mother knew that a tooth was to be removed, but was mixed up about whose tooth it was.

        “Don’t you have to get back to work? You don’t have time to get your tooth pulled,” my mother said, looking at me.

“Mom, it is your tooth that has to be pulled. Not mine. Are you trying to get out of it?” I said, trying to use humor to help her save face.

A few minutes later we were talking about my daughter when she said, “How can she have her tooth pulled today when she has to take care of the kids?”

“Now I know you are trying to get out of it,” I said. “You are the one with the loose tooth. Can’t you feel it in your mouth?”

My mother pushed her tongue to the side of her mouth. “Oh yes, it is loose.”

The dentist finally arrived along with a large syringe filled with Novocain. I always wonder about the size of syringe dentists use. You’d think they were going to knock out an elephant, not numb a gum! The dentist had to give my mother five doses before she said she couldn’t feel anything, and then it only took two minutes to remove the tooth.

After the nurse packed her gum with gauze and we listened to instructions from the dentist, I went to the front desk and made an appointment for the hygienist to clean her teeth.

This appointment, it turned out, had to be cancelled twice, because of a “lockdown” at Atria. I know, it sounds like a terrorist threat, but it wasn’t. There was an epidemic of gastrointestinal flu among the residents and everyone was confined to their rooms for two weeks. Residents could not leave and no one could visit. So the last time I saw my mother before the restriction was lifted was the day after the dentist appointment when I stopped by to see how she was doing. “You’ll never guess what happened yesterday,” she said, when I sat down to talk. “I didn’t want to worry you, but I had a loose tooth. But it’s OK now. I pulled it out.” She opened her mouth and showed me. The gum was healing nicely.

Toothbrush Dilemna

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 Toothbrush Dilemna

My mother’s teeth look terrible.  I knew she had not been brushing them.  I hated to think for how long!  She complained for a long time that, “I can’t brush my teeth. Someone is using my toothbrush.”  When I ask “How do you know?” she replies,”Because it’s wet.”   When I bought her the twenty pack of toothbrushes from Costco I thought the problem would be solved.  The next time she complained I checked under the sink.  The pack had not even been opened.  Maybe, I thought, it is hard for her to brush.  It may be too much effort to move her hand up and down.  I came up with, what I thought, was the perfect solution.  I would buy her an electric toothbrush. I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond armed with my 20% off coupon.  After looking at all the options I decided on a simple battery run model without a stand.  I didn’t know if she would use it so I didn’t want to invest too much money into it.
I took the toothbrush to her and she seemed pleased with it.  She assured me she would use it.  After I opened the package and installed the two batteries, I handed it to her. “Just press this button down,” I said as we watched it vibrate.  She made several valiant attempts to start it, but could not press it hard enough.  I needed to take her to a dental hygienist.  An understanding one. Soon.

When I called to make the appointment to have her teeth cleaned I was told, “She will have to see the dentist first to see if there are any problems.”  When I asked for my dentist, he was booked for a month.  “We have a new dentist, Dr. Cartter. He has earlier openings.  I can fit her in in two weeks.”
“Perfect,” I said, thinking she would probably like to see a young face. We agreed on a date, and I decided to wait on the hygienist appointment.  One thing at a time, I thought.

The week before her appointment I called Atria to make sure they could take her to and from her appointment.  If I tried to do it, not only would I wrench my back lifting the wheelchair, but I would probably drop her when I tried to get her in the car.  I would meet her at the dentist’s office for her appointment.
When the Atria driver wheeled her in that day she was confused, as I knew she would be, even though I had told her the day before that she had the appointment. “Why am I here? You didn’t tell me I had an appointment,” she asked over and over, followed by, “I have my own dentist, why would I come here?”  She also told me it did feel like she had a cavity on one of her back teeth.

My decision to go with a new dentist for my mother was a good choice.  Not only was the dentist  young, he was also very good looking, friendly, and patient.   After he checked her teeth over and they took X-rays he told us the reason for her “cavity” pain. She had a loose tooth that needed to come out.  And it had to come out that day.    . . . to be continued