As a kid we went to the family dentist a lot. He didn't look like Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors, but boy did he act like him.
He's the kind of guy who would drill holes in your teeth and then tell you you have cavities. And he didn't really feel comfortable unless he could get his whole arm in your mouth. When installing the metal band around my teeth so the braces would stop coming off I had bits shoot out and damage the window.
Of course, I had real dental problems, too. I jammed a tooth which damaged the circulation. It changed colors for awhile and went dark. "It's dead." he said, and covered it with an enamel shell that still didn't match the other teeth and made that one tooth protrude. All the teeth in my head want to sit up front where they can get a good view. So things got a bit crowded and twisted out of shape. Braces were put on, but my teeth put up a fight and would routinely shake them off. Thus the aforementioned metal band. Teeth were pulled to make room for everyone. Before I left for college and left the tooth tyrant behind the braces were removed and placed on the back of my teeth. "Don't worry." he said. "They'll come off on their own with time. All the cement will come off."
I went to the dentist this week for the first time in 20 years. Partially because they hurt and partially because I sold a house and can afford it.
The tooth cleaner said my teeth were surprisingly clean for having gone this long without dental care. She was done pretty fast. What took the longest was trying to remove the remaining cement from the back of my teeth.
The cavities that exist are obvious. There are no minor cavities. And the ones that I have are the result of poorly filling the ones the last dentist drilled. One tooth may or may not have to go. I'm seeing a consultant Wednesday to evaluate our options.
My front tooth is actually still alive. The enamel coating on my front tooth is further from the color of the rest of my teeth than the actual tooth. So we're gonna have it off.
All my wisdom teeth came in. They're not really a problem. One of them is sideways, but since we'd have to break my jaw to get it out we're going to try doing nothing. In fact, if we have to take out the tooth that's a problem, the sideways tooth may be manipulated to replace it.
But for what I got charged for a cleaning, X-Ray, and diagnostics I don't know why I waited so long. It was only a few hundred bucks. The upcoming work will cost more, but I wasn't hearing numbers that would worry me even before I sold a house.