It was the summer between by freshman and sophomore years in high school. A tooth emergency arrived. The ache was in a molar on the bottom left rear of my mouth. From my folks all I got was, “don’t worry about it, in a few days it will disappear.” Well after a few days the pain wasn’t gone, it just got worse. Finally, finally my mother took me for my first visit to a local dentist, who resided in a nearby tenement.
The dentist looked at the tooth and said it was too far gone to fill. He would have to pull the molar. Nothing was mentioned about Novocaine so I didn’t mind. I knew nothing about having a tooth removed, this was the first time.
The dentist was soon ready to extract the tooth. He grabbed a pair of pliers that looked like it had paint on the handle from a previous non-dental job, and began to yank at the tooth. What he got was the top half of the molar and left the bottom, with the nerve exposed. I was now in agony. The dentist was finished and told my mother to take me to the local hospital where they would give me gas and finish the job. He could do no more.
My mother was livid for the state he left me in, and as we got ready to leave the office she told the dentist mockingly, he should take gas.
When I got home I went straight to bed. I was in agony trying to sleep with the nerve exposed.
In the meantime my father had found an oral surgeon located in Manhattan who had at one time resided in our neighborhood. An appointment was made for the next day. My Dad and I traveled by train to a stop called Amsterdam Ave. in Manhattan. The dental surgeon’s office was located three blocks from the train station.
Arriving at the surgeons office I waited to be called to hopefully fix this bum tooth of mine and alleviate the pain. Twenty minutes later I was called to sit in the dental chair as the surgeon reviewed by current problem. He poked around for a few moments and called my father for a little powwow a few steps from where I was sitting.
In the course of the surgeon’s chit chat with my Dad I over heard the words, “I will have to inject the needle with Novocaine directly into the nerve for the way it has been exposed.”
Upon hearing this bit of conversation I was off the chair like a shot, ran for the door, opened it and ran down two flights of stairs heading for Amsterdam Ave. My bib was still on and flying in the breeze just like the red baron. I was heading for the train to go home as quick as possible. Thinking of the dentist’s needle was chilling.
Little did I know my Dad was right behind me and finally caught up with me. When he did he grabbed me by the nape of the neck.
He turned me around, holding my arm, and headed me back to the dentist’s den of pain. I was seated back in the hot seat and the procedure continued. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a slight smile from the dentist. I think he enjoyed what I didn’t. My Dad kept a sharp eye on me, for there was no way he was letting me out the door again without the job being completed.
After the initial belt from the needle everything calmed down. The bottom of the tooth and nerve was removed, the bleeding stopped, the dentist was paid and my Dad and I were soon heading back to the train. There was no running this time, but my Dad could’ve used a drink.
Arriving home I slept for ten hours. When I awoke most of the pain had subsided. I was glad it was over. In the future there would be other dental events but that’s for another time.