Kristin Emery is a meteorologist at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, an O-R columnist, and writer for Total Health magazine and other publications. Kristin is a Washington native and a graduate of Washington High School and West Virginia University.

I had a great run.

After years and years of good semi-annual dental checkups, it was bound to happen. Rather than sending me off with the normal thumbs up and a new toothbrush, my dentist and hygienist had some news that I did not want to hear: I had a cavity. Two, to be precise. .. and there was more bad news.

It appears those fillings don’t last forever and the ones in at least two of my molars were past their expiration dates and crumbling.


How did this happen?

There’s nothing more disappointing than hearing your dentist say he has to do some repair work in your mouth. It’s kind of like when your car has a problem and you know it will be both inconvenient and expensive.

I really can’t complain though since those crumbling fillings have lasted decades. In fact, the guy who did them is my current dentist’s father. This makes me feel really old but also glad that my parents got their money’s worth from my original fillings when I was a kid.

Not only did I have two new cavities in need of filling, but the two old fillings that crumbled were so big and beyond repair that they had to be replaced with crowns.

Once I learned that insurance would cover a big chunk of the cost, I felt a bit more at ease.

I scheduled the appointment and was a bit anxious, but my dentist promised I would feel nothing – well, nothing except the “little pinch” of the needles to inject that magical numbing medicine. I told him to make it extra strong just in case. I don’t mind that numb jaw feeling and actually get a laugh from it.

All was well and I was good and numbed up – then came that sound. You know the one. Why in the world after centuries of dentistry hasn’t someone invented a silent dental drill?

I think the sound of the drill makes you more nervous than anything! If they could numb my ears to the sound of that drill, I wouldn’t have been anxious at all.

Can’t we task Elon Musk to devise a silent dental drill?

I know he’s busy building rockets and that vacuum tube that will send us cross-country in a hour, but maybe he could find time for this. Better yet – the Dyson vacuum fellow invented a super quiet hairdryer, so maybe we should get him on it.

After just a few minutes of drilling and two weeks of waiting, my new crown was in place. Then I had to do the whole thing again a few weeks later for the second crown.

In the end, I didn’t feel any pain and my anxiety was all for naught. Still, and I mean no offense to the nice people at the dentist’s office, I don’t want to see them for another six months!

Kristin Emery can be reached at

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