Cementing a single veneer. I check everything. And re-check. Hesitant to start. And then I begin. I remember the time cement hardened between the teeth and I spent hours trying to remove it. Can’t let that happen. So before the cement is fully set I floss between the teeth. And I remember the time I flossed out the cement and the veneer came off. Can’t let that happen. I check the bite, and the margins—everything looks good. I can exhale. I adjust the chair so that the patient can have a look. Jessica gives the young lady a mirror and the lady doesn’t say anything. Just stares and stares and then says,”The colour. It’s too dark.”
I avoid her eyes and sigh, “Okay can I have another look at it.”
I say,” We have funny lights in here. You have to see how it looks under different lighting situations. You need to get used to it. I think it looks good. It’s better of being slightly darker rather than slightly lighter.”
This last bit doesn’t go down that well. Eventually she agrees to see how it goes. To take it home with her-which as it is cemented in place was a touch inevitable. She goes.
My mood has changed the way a cool change sweeps across the city. The colours dissipate leaving behind dull, drab sepia. I cannot move. I sit motionless surrounded and enveloped by the surgery. The walls seem everywhere. I can sense muffled people moving but they seem a lone way away. The energy has been sucked from me the way water disappears down the plug hole. I must force myself to move. I stand and sigh. I move very slowly. Every step resembles a climber on Mt Everest. Laboured. I get the next patient and I can’t believe I was so stupid. Why did I make such a basic mistake. Dentistry 101. Jessica is irritating me. The way she leans over and holds the suction tube. And this patient’s tongue. If it does that just once more I will drill a bloody hole in it. Then it will learn what to do. Why do I put up with it? My back is aching. I want to curl up and make myself smaller and smaller. To lie still and let things happen as I lie observing the world go by through dull eyes.
I ring the lab. They took the shade. They ask me which brand cement I used. What colour did I use? Did I try it with different cement? Why did I cement the veneer if it was the wrong colour? This needles me. I know I made a mistake. They don’t have to rub it in. If I can get the models back to them and they can remake it’s not really there problem if I have to cut the veneer off.
I tell them that we should be alright. The lab says,” We are very happy to remake it.”
I don’t think she will ring back. She’s too passive— eager to please—too nice. Unlike me doesn’t know what’s possible. I think she accustom herself to the veneer. And I tell the lab,” I don’t think it will be necessary she won’t complain.”
They like the sound of that so they immediately repeat their offer. I tell them that it won’t be needed.
Next patient is a blur. He says,” I hope I don’t see you a while.”
Very funny. He goes and I sit motionless.
And then I reluctantly get the models out of the bin. I know what I have to do and I pick up the phone and ring the patient.
“We will have to redo the veneer. The colour is not right. We will make an appointment for you.”
She passively agrees with me. Sounding slightly stunned and confused.
And I immediately think about the next patient. Let’s get this show on the road. The colour has returned. And next time I cement a veneer I will have one more thing to remember.
This blog is the fictional story of a dentist. The dentist works with Jessica and Beryl in a town a lot like Hobart. The blog tells the story of what these people get up to and the work that they do. If you feel that you recognize yourself in one of the stories please remember it is fictional and the characters and stories are all fictional. Though all the stories are based on my time as a dentist in Hobart and are based on things which actually did happen.