Boutique experiences abound in tourist locations. For instance, my little mountain town has an organic beeswax candle shop, a visual artists’ collective and a dog-biscuit bakery. But this week I’ve been at a North Carolina coastal beach town, soaking up the sun and kayaking in the tidal creeks. I bought a cool pair of silky gaucho pants at one of the tourist shops and shrimp from the dockside vendor. I was so enjoying playing the role of “tourist”. And then it happened. I was eating a fat tomato sandwich when my tongue felt something hard (which obviously wasn’t bread or a fat tomato). I fetched it out of my mouth and realized it was a tooth. (Well, technically, only part of a tooth). Shit.
Great– just great. As I pulled my jaw out to examine the back tooth, I watched my short romantic vacation go to hell in a handcart. It was bad. I could see exposed tooth where the filling fell out, ugh! I knew I would need a crown so I called my dentist at home. He gave me the name of someone in the area and the realtor gave my sweetie the name of his dentist. Then the stars aligned: it was the same person. Even better, this dentist was a she.
Another miracle occurred: I got an appointment the next day. When we pulled up it was clear that this was not your ordinary dental office. The beach-side deck with rocking chairs and huge, bleached-wood frame that held a floor-to-ceiling exotic plant display was just the beginning. Inside, the receptionist greeted me by name and took me on a “tour” of the facility. The décor was all slate and silvery tones with strategically placed weathered-wood objects of art. The bathroom had a faux (I hope) tortoiseshell sink and real hand towels. It looked more like a page from House Beautiful than a dental office. Andy asked our tour guide for an appetizer and cocktail while he waited for me, and she smiled sweetly and showed him the fresh pineapple water and Keurig coffee station. As they led me to an exam room he whispered, “I hope you can afford this, honey”. It was clear that this was a boutique dental salon.
As I waited in the chair with my lavender-scented, heated neck pillow, I heard the click of tiny pumps on the granite floor. A four-foot, nine-inch beauty in a white jacket that said, “DDS” waltzed in. She was beautiful: long brunette hair, a perfect heart-shaped face and tiny hands. (I like a dentist with tiny hands. If you can avoid it, why have hands the size of a meatloaf in your mouth?) After the most gentle exam I’ve EVER had, she confirmed my self-diagnosis: I had broken a tooth and would need a crown.
She displayed a dazzling smile and said, “We can do those in one day, but it’s a long appointment. It takes about 3 hours.” Wow. It takes 2-3 weeks at home, and my dentist has hands the size of a meatloaf! She asked how long I was in town and when I told her just a few days she made the cutest frown I’ve ever seen. “Hmmm. I’m not sure we can do that. Let me see what we can work out.” As she spoke to me, the assistant pushed the button on her headset and queried the receptionist. They could do it the next day.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, girlfriend! Her tiny hands were gentle and meticulous. The shots hurt, but thanks to her tiny hands, I could actually open my mouth the next day. My crown was custom-made without an impression. A computerized cartography system created a map of the landscape of my mouth. It was surreal. My perfectly created, baked porcelain crown is the exact color of the surrounding teeth. It was ready in just under five hours instead of three, but it was done in a day. I was almost delirious from pineapple water and Lidocaine.
So now I’m almost back to normal and enjoying the rest of my little vacation. If you find yourself on Topsail and you’ve got an extra $1,500 lying around, you should check it out!