The Dentist

In the last few months I’ve decided that good dental care should be a priority in my life since over the years I’ve mostly neglectful of my teeth. I’d been avoiding the dentist over the past few years because I had found a great one. I had found one that actually didn’t make me hyperventilate or hide in the corner and pretend not to understand when the nurse came to the lobby and said “Beth?” to try and coax me back to “the chair”. This doctor had a wonderful sense of humor and the best thing ever – rooms with themes. I personally was a fan of the Elvis room, but I didn’t mind the Safari room either. Giraffe masks swaying in the breeze of the vents plus nitrous oxide equals Beth having a grand time at the dentist’s office.

Now why did I stop going if I thought this doctor hung the moon? Well, I recommended her to a lot of my friends in need of dental care. All of them agreed that she had a great mouth-side manner, but we started comparing notes and coming up with some big dental bills. In my case, I can honestly say my teeth were really just that bad, but my friends who were actually diligent about their dental care weren’t so sure about what she was recommending for their teeth. In one case, a friend had been to her family dentist in the last 6 months and was only looking for a new dentist because she’d just moved to town; her diagnosis involved all sorts of procedures and oral surgeons. She’s the one who sent up the red flag with this dentist. Sadly, I had to admit that some of it sounded fishy and I simply stopped going.

Fast forward to November when I bit down on something and had one of those jolts of pain go through my jaw. It was time again to find a new dentist. I went with another friend’s recommendation and found myself in the land of no Elvis room, no Safari room, not even an overly large toothbrush. This was truly a sad day for my dental care. The new dentist didn’t even display one motivational poster on the ceiling that I could contemplate. Oh, and they are not liberal with the nitrous there either – all major strikes against them. They offer headphones and a radio that they’ll tune to your favorite channel as a condolence prize. The radio is nice and I can almost reach that Zen like place I do with nitrous, but I’m pretty sure if they hacked off my feet that I would definitely care. With my friend nitrous oxide, I’m pretty sure you can hobble me up to the knees before I might raise a brow.

I meet the new dentist and he’s pretty funny. He’s not as funny as the old dentist, but he’s a good guy and he remembers everything about you, which is certainly nice. At our first meeting where he gave my teeth a thorough going over I told him all about my dental problems. I was an expert on them because the previous dentist explained all the things happening with my teeth. I felt knowledgeable as I carried on about my advanced gingivitis, receding gum lines and my genetic disposition for cavities. He politely listened and kind of made grunts that sounded like “mmm” followed by nods – the kind of nod you use when you understand someone, not the kind you use when you believe him. Then, as I was making my way down the list of dental problems and about to whip out a Power Point presentation and hand out information packets he stopped me and said “Beth, you don’t have any of that.” OH! In fact I later go to his hygienist who tells me about how great my gums are and how some people are just lucky. Again, I make a groan in the direction of the old dentist.

Now, this was really a long winded way to get to my point. Since lately we have had to do a lot to get my teeth in tip top shape (I may not have gingivitis but there have been a couple of issues) I’ve had a lot of interaction with the dentist. Since I never get nitrous oxide and instead get only the radio, I’m also unfortunately very lucid when we interact which brings us to yesterday.

Yesterday, I’m being numbed up which I can’t stand. I hate the swab that almost tastes sweet, I hate the way they shake your cheek and I really hate super long metal needles that look like they first rolled out at the turn of the century. I also hate it that they don’t provide you with blinders. One of the final shots I receive hits close to my lingual nerve. I almost shoot out of the chair as what feels like an electric shock courses down my tongue. The dentist hit the same spot a second time and I’m about to die. Mind you, while he’s still got a good hold of my face and I can still see half of the 3′ long needle hanging out of my mouth the dentist inquires “did you feel that down your tongue?” I dare you to try and answer that question under the same conditions. Then we move onto the actual procedure which involves a dremmel and smoke billowing out of my mouth the dentist asks, “How are you doing? Is everything ok?” My responses all sound like I auditioned for the role of the monster in Young Frankenstein. I politely say “eehhhhh” every time and the dentist responds like we’re actually chatting “oh good!” Lord knows I’m not going to attempt to actually flap my gums at him. There would be some hideous dremmel meets mouth accident and there I’d be on the front page of the paper.

What is it about doctors in general that make them do that? You’re there at your most vulnerable and they want to talk. There are just certain times at any doctor’s office that I’m not up to chatting. In fact, on some of those occasions I want us to give each other a knowing nod and walk off and pretend the whole thing never happened.

Despite the dentist’s chatting quirk that seems to be shared by all of those sadists in the medical profession, I do like this guy. I find I can actually go in and not hyperventilate, which isn’t an exaggeration for the story. Now if I can just get him to gas me up, we’ll become excellent friends.

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