A dental torture device that was new to me

The upper right side of my mouth started bothering me several months ago and I worried it might be the start of gum disease, but when I went to my dentist’s office for an already-scheduled regular cleaning, it turned out my gums were fine. I just had a cracked fillings in two of my teeth. Luckily they were able set up an appointment for me the following week.

That visit was pretty routine up through the drilling phase, but when it came time to put in the actual filling I got to experience something new. To prop my mouth open for comfort and convenience (theirs, not mine) they employed a complicated looking piece of clear plastic, slightly flexible but still firm (al dente and then some), that comprised two distinct sections. The front was a roughly box-shaped “bite block” that was jammed between the upper and lower teeth on my left side, opposite the work zone, to force my jaw open more or less like a python's. Growing out of the back was a sort of flexible vertical beaver tail, but sideways, as if the bite block were a beaver sleeping on his side. The tail crossed over to the right side of my mouth to keep my tongue out of the way. It also had tiny little holes in it so a suction hose plugged into the front of the apparatus could suck out saliva.

Now, this may sound petty unpleasant, but the reality was worse than you might imagine.

I bravely held on through the filling of the back-most remaining tooth on the upper right, which is number 2 as dentists count (clockwise from top left according to their viewpoint; this will be on the exam). When that was done I started gesticulating, first pointing at the evil plastic thing and then up and out, like Ralph Kramden reminding Alice where the Moon was. This proved sufficient to convey my meaning, and to their credit they did remove it pretty quickly. (Btw, the entrance to my dentist’s building has a sign indicating that firearms are not allowed on the premises. This may be why.)

Hero that I am, after some whimpering and moaning and recovering I valiantly let them stuff the vile thing back in, but not so far back, so they could fill number 4. This proved slightly less awful, and I survived. In the end it cost under $600, and my teeth no longer hurt.

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