I had lunch with one of the staff chaplains at the hospital where I did CPE. Our time together was delightful. I picked up a fish and chips burrito at Publico beforehand. This remarkable item has battered, fried fish inside it, along with French fries, queso, and chipotle crema. It takes about two days to digest, but is totally worth it. Afterward, I went to University of the Pacific for a second intake appointment. The dentist I had selected is just a second-year student and these appointments are usually conducted by third-year students, so I met with another fellow, with my own young dentist observing. The other fellow did not do an exam; that would have happened at yet another appointment. But he looked into my mouth for two seconds and said, “You’re going to need a lot of fillings!”
For a second, I was completely disoriented: What do you mean, I need a lot of fillings? I don’t need any fillings. He said that some of my fillings are worn and that if decay gets under them, that is a big problem. I’m sure that’s true, but I’m also sure that if there were any real danger, my former dentist would have replaced these fillings already. It’s not like I’ve been avoiding dental care. I’ve seen a dentist at least twice a year for about 50 years. Soon this person added that I also would need “a couple of crowns,” and somewhere along in there, my trust in University of the Pacific faded. I expressed my concern, and my young dentist tried to offer reassurance, saying that we would know more after the actual exam.
I really don’t want every single tooth in my head to get a filling or crown because that’s what the students at UoP need to practice. Mother Nature gives one just so many teeth, and I don’t want them treated aggressively. Nay, I would like them treated in a diffident, retiring, even avoidant manner. I called my former dentist and she looked at my X-rays while we were on the phone and said she doesn’t see anything that needs immediate attention and that metal fillings can last for 30 or 40 years and should be hung onto for as long as possible. I decided to stick with her and left my erstwhile new dentist a very nice voice mail saying that I had changed my mind (I explained why) and expressing my sincere good wishes toward him. I got an equally nice voice mail back from him.