Yesterday I went to see the other man in my life, with whom I’ve enjoyed a 17-year long relationship:
While I don’t mind switching doctors now and then, I’ve faithfully stuck with the same dentist all these years, and I will stay with him until the bitter end – his or mine.
Because I’m paranoid when it comes to my teeth.
Born with a cleft palate and following years of orthodontic treatment and a painful jaw operation, I’m left with considerable scar tissue in my palate, a gap where two teeth would normally have grown, a false tooth and a (real) canine refashioned as a front tooth, and more.
After all these years, my dentist knows the ins and outs of my mouth so well that I couldn’t bear leaving him for someone else. Better the devil you know.
Years ago, when I lived in New York City, I found myself needing a root canal near the cleft area.
It was an especially tricky job for the dentist in charge, partly because of interfering scar tissue in the palate and because the anaesthetics made my face swell up so much that in the end, we had to do without it.
I remember the dentist telling me that all the years of orthodontic treatment – moving teeth around – had traumatised the roots and could lead to erosion over time.
Horrified, I imagined my teeth literally falling out of my mouth and to this day I have nightmares about my entire palate caving in.
When my current dentist suffered from a prolonged respiratory illness last year, leaving him unable to work for months, I panicked. What if I had to find a new dentist?
Thankfully, he recovered, and our relationship continues. Yet, traumatised by the threat of losing him, I always inquire about his health when we meet.
“I’m fine,” he told me when I saw him yesterday, “but one of my colleagues died suddenly, and completely unexpectedly a couple of days ago. Mind you; he was only in his 50s. And how are you, Jenny, all well?”
Looking at him, I noticed for the first time that his hair was greying and his wrinkles were growing deeper.
He’s ageing, I thought to myself, and he’s not as handsome as he was 17 years ago. But I’ll never break up with him.
Some relationships are for life.