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Published June 2, 2020


The dentist

By John Toth / The Bulletin

A few days after the State of Texas allowed dentists to reopen, my phone rang.

“Mr. Toth, we’re calling to confirm your Wednesday morning appointment,” said the pleasant voice on the other end of the line.

“What appointment?”

“The one you made three months ago - for your cleaning.”

That appointment. With all this pandemic going around, I had lost track of it. “O.K., I’ll be there.”

Perfect timing, I’d say. I made the appointment pre-pandemic days, just in time for the dentist lockdown to end. I have one of these cleanings every three months and let the experts work on keeping my teeth and gums healthy because doing so is cheaper than a $30,000 implant - and a lot less painful.

They make it sound easy on those TV commercials, how they can do an entire mouthful of implants in one day. That’s got to be a pretty tough day, though. I’ve had two tooth implants, and they were no cakewalks. There were some serious surgical procedures done in my mouth. I was asleep, but I read all about them when I got my itemized bill.

I was a little apprehensive that the appointment came so close to the reopening of dental offices. I always like to wait a little while to make sure that everything is running smoothly, and they iron out the kinks. This is also one reason I don’t get on brand new airplanes just off the assembly line.

Let others test it out and make sure they work right. If the Titanic passengers would have thought this way, Leonardo DiCaprio would not have frozen to death at the end of the movie.

I made an exception this time and headed - equipped with facemask - to the dentist. I kind of looked forward to it, actually. With the quarantine limiting my excursions mostly to the supermarket, this would be a nice change of pace.

Isn’t that a sad statement on how we have had to live since the pandemic shut down everything but essential businesses? A trip to the dentist has never been my favorite excursion, but this time I was almost glad to go.

The place looked different - fewer chairs, everybody wearing masks. The people waiting for their appointments kept to themselves, playing on their phones - well, at least that part hadn’t changed.
One of the assistants came to measure my temperature with one of those fancy thermometers that shoots a beam out. “This can’t be right. It’s 92.” she said.

“If I had a 92-degree body temperature, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” I said jokingly.

She shot me with the temperature ray again, this time closer. “It’s 96, that’s close enough.”

A few kinks still needed ironing out, but the main goal was to establish that I didn’t have a fever. I measured my own temperature before I left the house, so I knew it was as normal as it gets. We hot-blooded Hungarians tend to run a little higher. (Just joking to cheer you up as a reward for making it all the way down to this point in the column. After all, my topic is visiting the dentist during a pandemic. How much fun is that?)

I actually had a good time talking with the technician when she didn’t pack my mouth full of instruments. And the dentist and I had a nice chat about world and county events.

“I’m glad you’re back,” I said as I left with super-clean, shiny teeth. I tend to say that a lot these days.
I’ll be back in three more months. Gotta keep those teeth and gums healthy. I don’t have $30K to spend on a new smile right now, even if it can be done in one day - or can it?

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)