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Just as Good or Better than the Old

Story ID:7856
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Halifax Nova Scotia Canada
Year:1976
Person:Me
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Here's the 3rd story I wrote yesterday



Just as Good or Better than the Old



My head tilted toward the floor. The dentist hovered over my open mouth, which was
stuffed with a metal frame with a protective rubber sheet stretched over it. His drill whirred.
The burnt smell of ground enamel made my nose tingle and my eyes water. I felt the splash of
saliva on my cheeks as he worked on my bad tooth.

The hygienist leaned in from the left, stuck her suction tube in my mouth and warned me
not to swallow. “Close your mouth around the tube and let the vacuum do its work.”

“Ah tay.” I mumbled through the mixture of fingers, tools and rubber in my mouth,
realized it made no sense at all and just closed my lips around the tube and nodded that I under-
stood.

The drill stopped. Dr. Shore packed my tooth, with what was probably mercury back
then, and adjusted the chair into a sitting position. “I didn’t think I could save that tooth, but the
cavity wasn’t quite too bad. You should be good for a few chews.” He chuckled at his own joke.

“T’anks, oc.” My frozen jaw didn’t work. I tried again. “Hanks, Hoc.”

He continued like he understood Novocain speak, which he probably did, after years
of practice. “Now I don’t want you to chew on that side for a couple weeks. It will be tender.”

“Akay.” I said.

On my way home I thought, “But that’s the side I always chew on. It’s a habit. How
am I going to chew on the other side?”

I bit my cheek three times that night, as I tried to learn to chew on the other side. A few
times I forgot and chewed on the new filling. The pain caused my eyes blur. I switched back to
the new side and bit my cheek again.

A few days later, the new side was the normal. It became the side I always chewed on.

Change is not easy. It can be painful. However, it doesn’t take long to become the new
way of doing things. Embrace change; suffer the pain. A new way can be just as good or better
than the old.

Michael T. Smith