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I Went To The Dentist During A Pandemic

Right before non-essential businesses went into lockdown, I went to see my dentist. I’d been watching a movie when I bit into the wrong kernel of popcorn and chipped a tooth. It wasn’t super painful, but it put me on edge about the whole thing falling out, so I sent a frantic email about my misshapen molar. The next morning I had an appointment booked for the afternoon. I was surprised at not needing to wait even a single day, but my dentist is known for going above and beyond.

I arrived early – eager to get my smile straightened – when I discovered the dental office was already changing. My fave receptionist mentioned they were prioritizing emergency patients since they didn’t even know if they would be open in a week. My dentist and her assistant were maybe the fastest they’d ever been, setting up the barrier and reshaping my poor molar in record time.

I was delighted to have gotten such a quick fix, especially as social distancing was starting to set in, but after a few salads and a slice of cold pizza, I realized something wasn’t aligned properly. A week in, the left side of my mouth was sore whenever I ate. A month later there was pain.

While everyone was busy learning to be a professional chef, I was refreshing my dentist’s website and Facebook every morning. When I’d had fillings done my dentist was always clear: If anything is wrong, phone or text or email us! We’ll get it fixed ASAP. COVID made me feel like the victim of bad timing and all I could do was learn to chew on one side.

Months later, on a Monday afternoon, the blessing came by email. My dentist was scheduling patients and ready to reopen. I was elated, but I was also concerned. I’d avoided stores and restaurants as restrictions eased because someone in my bubble had a compromised immune system. Luckily, my dentist was as thorough over email as she was during check-ups. The email told me everything about being allowed to schedule an appointment, how it would all work, what the office would do, and what they expected of me.

I hadn’t seen anyone that had been traveling, and aside from my sore jaw, I was as healthy as I’d ever been. I rushed to reply, asking for them to take another look at my chipped tooth. They were clearly opening later than usual each day, but I still had appointment options.

Friday afternoon, I got an email from my favourite receptionist about my visit. He needed me to confirm nearly 4 days ahead – which was new – while also answering health questions. Lucky for me, I could just log into her website and update the info myself. Once Tuesday rolled around I bid my roommates adieu, and drove to my dentist’s office. I texted them when I arrived, just like they asked me to, and then they asked me to wait outside or in my car for a few minutes. I haven’t been nervous about the dentist since I was a little kid, but I’ll admit I could feel my heart thudding away while I listened to the radio. 

When the call came I answered after one ring. The receptionist asked me to enter, leave my mask on, and follow the path inside. ‘Try not to touch anything other than the chair!’ was the last thing I was told. I walked through the front door and it was like night and day! The waiting room furniture was just about gone, but my receptionist waved from behind his desk and plexiglass. He pointed to a door and curtain that were both held wide open so I could slip through. I followed the tape on the floor to the chair.

Taking my seat, my dentist came in alone almost immediately. It could be a little tough to understand her through a mask and face shield, but I figure it wasn’t any more difficult than telling her about my family vacation with her tiny mirror lodged in my mouth. She apologized for not having been able to see me sooner and asked me to take off my mask while she adjusted the chair.

Everything was pretty normal after that, to be honest. She checked out my teeth and compared my bite. Then there was drilling and asking to open wide – all the typical stuff. Just before we wrapped up, the receptionist stood outside of the room to ask if my insurance or address or anything else had changed. After my dentist finished working, she pulled herself back, asked me to put my mask on, and we were done!

I went from that chair back to my car in under a minute, and I could already tell my jaw was closing more naturally! I checked my phone to see a text message from the receptionist with my bill, a quick follow-up survey, and what to do if I noticed other issues. While it was great to see them take COVID so seriously, I loved how convenient it was with the waiting room cut out.

This pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone, but all it took was one lunch for me to appreciate my dentist and her amazing coworkers. They continued going above and beyond for me from the minute I stepped inside their office. Letting me log into their website from home, use my own phone for updates and billing, and generally being awesome made me feel totally at ease – even if I felt like a science experiment. During the whole time, I knew that I was being taken care of and that I was safe.

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