Tuesday 06 Dec 2016

Nitrous Oxide
Matt Seinberg

I’m not a chemist, nor do I pretend to be one on TV. I’m just someone who hates being in any type of pain, especially at the dentist. Two weeks ago, I went for my semi-annual cleaning and exam, and in the course of the exam, Marissa the hygienist took X-rays and looked at them before calling in Dr. Ron.

Marissa told me that it looked like I had an abscess in one of the upper left teeth that previously had an apicoectomy, or apico, for short. Dr. Ron came in, looked at the X-ray and my teeth, confirming I had an abscess. I would need to see an oral surgeon, again.

I knew that I was going to see Dr. Tracy once again, so I looked up the procedure, and here is the definition.

An Apicoectomy, or Root-End Resection, is the removal of the root tip and the surrounding infected tissue of an abscessed tooth. This procedure may be necessary when inflammation and infection persists in the area around the root tip after root canal therapy.

Luckily, my abscess was draining and it hadn’t swollen. Had it swollen I would have known about it sooner, and it was just by chance I made this dental appointment when I did.

To me, the best thing about going to the dentist is having nitrous oxide gas given during certain procedures, such as fillings, caps, crowns and other painful things that Novocain alone won’t numb.

When I was a kid, the dentist asked me before getting a filling if I wanted laughing gas along with the Novocain, and, of course, I said yes, without knowing what it was. I asked and got some gobble de gook answer that made no sense at the time. All I remember was someone saying it would make me feel good.

Comedian Robert Klein came up with the best answer concerning nitrous oxide. He said even though you might feel the pain, you don’t give a shit about it. Well said, Robert; I still live with those words today.

The first time I got it, I felt great, and didn’t care that the dentist was sticking a drill in my mouth, and all sorts of noises and odors were them coming out of it. Nitrous oxide is a wonderful, legal drug that everyone should keep in their homes for the times they feel a little stressed out, and need to feel good for a few minutes.

Whenever I’m under with nitrous oxide, I always here the same noises, and feel the same way. I hear a slight clanging noise, and feel like my body is floating upwards to a cloud. I always keep my eyes shut when I’m under, because I believe that not having any outside visual stimulation only enhances the effect of the gas.

I made the appointment for the apico with Dr. Tracy, and was given the choice of Novocain alone (NO!), nitrous oxide or general anesthesia. I went with the nitrous oxide because it’s easier to recover from it. It turns out she did the same procedure on the same tooth five years ago, and if it happens again, some major work may very well have to be done.

Dr. Tracy gives me three or four shots of Novocain, turns on the gas, and it’s off to the races! It only takes a few minutes for the gas to take effect, and I’m flying high. They could do whatever they wanted to me, and I wouldn’t care. I guess that’s there’s always stories in the newspapers about male dentists being caught abusing female patients while they are under nitrous oxide.

Time flies, and the next thing I know I’m back on Earth from my little trip. The left side of my mouth is rather sore, and I have a wicked headache. Dr. Tracy gives me two prescriptions, one for the antibiotic Amoxicillin and one for the painkiller, Vicodin.

I know I’ll need the Vicodin that day, and possibly the next, as I have a killer headache and the left side of my mouth really hurts. I’ve had Vicodin before and it is my painkiller of choice.

There is a follow up visit with Dr. Tracy four days later, and she removes the stitches and says everything is looking good. A couple of things about Dr. Tracy; first, she reminds me of my sister in size and demeanor, and second, she’s really quite a good-looking woman. How many people can say that about their oral surgeons?

Two last things about nitrous oxide; did you know it is a natural substance that comes from the manure of farm animals and it is once “soup up” automobile engines?

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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