a tribute and the thrill of the drill

Turn the clock back to 1848 and a prospetor’d have a field day in my presence!

Because there ain’t a molar without gold!

Crowns, bridges, I got ’em both. Standard silver amalgam fillings? Pfffffshaw! Long vanished with the theory that the world’s flat.

Over the years, molar by molar, enamel was lost through various reasons and causes and in its stead was placed gold. Which as you’ll know if you’re semi dental-savvy is the better material over porcelain for too many reasons to list so google it if interested.

Then there are the root canals – with an s – and broken front tooth acquired in childhood when Greta — the neighbor’s German shepherd who was made neurotic and unpredictable by being excessively penned up — chased me and I leapt onto the hood of the car and whammo! Bye-bye chunk of front tooth.

So I was maybe 12 or 14 when I had my first root canal, on said tooth, to secure a post. Dr. Jessup, my childhood dentist of 10 years, is to this day lo the decades passed praised, deservedly, for his exceptional skills and work. He did not only my general care, including needed extractions (except for wisdom teeth – that came later), but orthodontics, heavy-duty work that spanned the years, AND the repairs to the front tooth that remain to this day!!

He was that damn good.

When I’m joyfully relieved of this mortal coil, I’m going to reunite with the spirit of Dr. Jessup and shake his hand and thank him both for who he was as a dentist and his outstanding contributions and work bridging childhood and adult teeth. He truly earned my respect in my maturity.

Dr. Jessup was worthy of respect and of trust. Higher praises there are not.

And with the many hours there, my memories of his office are quite vivid … the layout … receptionist on the left, waiting area to the right … Highlights educational magazines on a small table in the corner … a door by the receptionist leading into a larger circular area with some toys for the kids … past that to the last opening on the left … the chair where I normally sat on the left (one of two, if memory serves) … the holes in the ceiling white board … his presence to my right … the blue paper bib with the silver link chain … and the drill.

To this day, oh so so many years now in the rear-view mirror, I still love the sound and smell of the drill.

It comforts as one might be comforted by mashed potatoes, a song or the lavender scent of a grandmother gone.

When the whir begins, I’m home. Sounds strange perhaps to someone with dentist fears or unaccustomed to extensive lengthy procedures. Comfort. Whether the origins lie in the trust of Dr. Jessup, his steady hand and impeccable work or the familiarity with the environment, I couldn’t say.

All I know is that when the whir starts up and the odor of drilled-out enamel hits my nostrils, and, it used to be, the faintest spray, I go “aaaaahhhhh.”

Those days of simple drilling are long long long gone. Life and genes and misfortune have advanced me along a course of Dentristy 1A to 100A.

Still, I had the thrill of the drill a couple months ago (at my former residence) … a short spin through the gold crown of the diseased tooth to insert medicine — with an odor like bleach btw — into the roots. It’s not exactly like sinking into an onsen (Japanese hot springs) but something like it in an alternate universe.

Right now, if I met Dr. Jessup — Dr. Warren Jessup — and opened my little jaw to him, I’d turn away, unable to look at him in the face; his light only draws forth my shame.

And you know what? I do believe that if we crossed paths, he’d remember me from the sea of children he treated in his practice. He’d remember me as the girl who was always at his office, for one thing or another!

He’d remember me as a very cooperative patient. I never whined. Doubtfully ever cried, except when I got home after another round of tightening those metal braces!

He’d remember me as afraid at times (what child isn’t?) but always strong and accepting of my fate, tirelessly.

I reckon he wouldn’t be a bit surprised by the path, work and gold riches manifested in the mouth that followed our decade. He was an astute fellow in his profession.

So through the darkening shame, my pen seeks the light to dedicate this post to Dr. Jessup. You were a blessing in my youth, a master and a craftsman in dentistry.

Thank you.

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