Dental pain always trumps weight gain

By Grant McGee

I’ve been saving money to go to the dentist.

It’s kind of funny. I’ll save money to go to the dentist or to get new glasses. I’ll make plans to go see those guys but I’m reluctant to go in for a medical checkup.

I know what’ll happen when I go to the doctor anyway. I’ll be told, “you’re overweight, your blood pressure isn’t good and your cholesterol is high.” I know this stuff and I work on it. I really don’t want to hear someone else make me feel guilty about it.

Going to the dentist is more important to me. Anyone who’s had a toothache understands this.

The last time I went to the dentist I had some cavities. One tooth was dangerously close to needing a root canal. I think “you need a root canal” ranks right up there with phrases you don’t want to hear in life like “you’re going to the electric chair,” “you have to pay your ex-wife alimony for 10 years” or “welcome to your I. R. S. audit.”

Dental visits are also important because I never want a repeat of the exquisite hot tooth pain I experienced three years ago. It was like a branding iron was being rammed in my jaw. A friend who was a dental assistant had a gander at my teeth and saw the source. A wisdom tooth had gone bad under the gum line.

I called dentist after dentist. No one would see me right away (this was in another city, so if you’re a Clovis dentist you can un-furrow your brow). To top it off, the lowest price quoted for the visit would be $250, which I didn’t have. And they wouldn’t bill me.

“Go to a Mexican dentist,” was the advice from a friend. She gave me a number to call across the border in Naco, Sonora. Sixty bucks was all they wanted to extract the bad tooth and they’d see me the next day.

I parked my car on the American side and walked over. Into the dentist’s office I went. It was nice and clean. No sooner had I sat in the waiting room than they whisked me into a dentist’s chair. In the hallway Spanish was being spoken, but when they talked to me the dentist and his assistant spoke impeccable English.

Painkiller was administered. Then they left. I felt the left side of my jaw go numb. Minutes later the dentist re-appeared with a pliers-like dental tool (hmm, maybe it was simply a pliers). He wrestled and tugged and wrestled and tugged. There was no pain, just the pressure.

“Ha ya ga da too ya?” I gargled out.

Amazingly, he understood me. He smiled and held my wisdom tooth before my eyes.

I was amazed. The tooth was cratered. Fully one-third of it was lost. The pain was from the cavity eating through to the nerve of the tooth. I was sort of embarrassed such a thing had been a part of me.

So that’s why I save my money to go to the dentist. A heart attack may drop me, cholesterol or high blood pressure may be the ruin of me, the doctor may tell me I’m overweight but please, I don’t ever want to feel another nasty, painful toothache like that again.

Or get a root canal.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: