1. Pee. Being trapped for more than an hour with an entire Teamsters union plus all their industrial-grade tooth-pulverizing tools crammed in your mouth is not the time to discover your bladder is painfully full. So take a moment to make a pre-emptive pee before you climb in the chair.
2. Sit still. Apparently I spent the early moments of my filling-replacement procedure on Monday wiggling my feet to distract myself from the fact that four adult human hands plus two suction tubes plus an assortment of super-glue-strength bonding compounds plus a rock-boring drill borrowed from the Manhattan subway expansion project were wedged in my delicate little mouth. I wiggled so much that my dentist’s assistant eventually had to ask me nicely but firmly to sit still. Like a big boy.
3. Breathe through your nose. Despite recent advancements in suction technology, water and pulverized tooth bits and probably clumps of leftover pudding from a nearby grade-school lunch program will puddle in the back of your mouth as your cracked old fillings are being drilled out of your head. Resist the urge to think about how easily this gunk could become a fatal choking hazard. Or to valiantly compare yourself to a waterboarding victim.
4. Don’t bite your tongue. It will be numb to the point you won’t even be sure you even have a tongue. Especially when you’re pumped full of enough Novocain to mask the horror of two filling removals. Keep in mind that your teeth are designed to chew meat. And your tongue is meat. So keep whatever bit of it you’re aware that you still have away from your molars.
5. Reward yourself with something nice when you’re done. My dentist is across the street from the Mac store. I went home Monday night with two new fillings, partial control over my lower face and one of these pretty kitties: