The Dentist Who Treated My Divorce

Bestinau got that-

“Yes, I said. I felt the tears welling up. “That’s it.”

My childhood was plagued with jitters and loss associated with problems of the mouth: tooth decay, grinding of teeth, irregular spacing, several missing molars that an early dentist joked was either spectacularly evolved or prehistoric. But worst of all were the extra channels in my roots. Most teeth have one. Molars often have two. Three is unusual and four, like me, is even rarer.

A root canal I had in my twenties got complicated when a dentist couldn’t find multiple canals and, annoyed, stopped halfway through. This turned into bone loss around that tooth when I was in my thirties and an excavation of the molar at 40. Eventually a titanium post had to be implanted into my bone and a counterfeit tooth, a porcelain crown, was pressed into it. It took multiple visits over several months, and was the most painful thing I’ve experienced postpartum.

My dentist’s office is located in a busy downtown Midtown Manhattan, 18 floors up. Lying in the ocean of numbing dental offices, I didn’t know how I would ever get out of the chair. I couldn’t imagine the 45 minute subway ride home, the key turning the lock on my house, the void that would meet me there.

Then, as if watching a movie clip of my mind, my dentist took off his two-layer masks and said, “Listen to me.” His face was surprisingly full of skin. “My wife left me and our sons when they were 2 and 4.” There was a long pause. “Then she died.”

I stared at him. I had met his now teenage sons in the office. Their picture hung on the wall above us.

“I thought I was going to die too,” he said. ‘But I didn’t. I took a serotonin inhibitor for a year and it helped me through it. I could get up in the morning. I could walk to work myself.”

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