Dental Truth

The dentist is my frenemy. I’ve been laid up for the past few days mulling over that fact while eating anti-biotics and pain pills. Dentists have an important job but it’s hard not to hate them. They aren’t known for their sensitivity and we despise them for all of the needle poking, plyer-pulling trauma they deliver to us. It’s hard not to envision some 1980’s b-flick horror movie when you visit them. Truth be told though, we find ourselves in painful situations and the dentist, by default, gets the rap for it. We learn to associate them with our pain. Yes indeed, frenemies they are!

My negative associations towards the dentist aren’t without merit though. When I was around fourteen years old, one dental visit, above all others, left me in a very shaken state. I’m over it now but it I still think about it (every time I brush my teeth).dental truth

I forget the crux of the problem that took me to the dentist that fateful year but I’m sure the words ‘root canal’ were used. I was fairly new to the dentist at that time in my life but, in a few short visits, I had learned to enjoy the smell of a surgical rubber nose mask while blissfully inhaling the good doctors inventory of nitrous oxide. I may have hated the dentist but I loved that dreamy state of ‘I don’t care’. It wasn’t much of an escape from those piercing needles but you take what you can get in those situations.

With the nitrous cranked up and the novacaine hard at work, I let Dr. Frankenstein do his worst. His hands were in my mouth. His wife’s hands were in my mouth. Countless metal tools were clanking away at my teeth and, behind the smell of all that laughing gas, I could detect the odour of tooth dust that had been drilled out. I hate that smell with a passion! Despite my disdains, the good doctor seemed to love his work and was most diligent in his oral onslaught.

If I remember anything about that dentist, I remeber that he was big. He was real big. He was football player big and he had hands to match. I recall thinking he must have been some kind of masochist to have hands so large and the desire to be a dentist. What was his second choice, proctology? His wife on the otherhand was a teeny tiny, petite woman with a frame so small you had to wonder how they ended up together. None the less, the weight and size of things did not balance out when I had both of their hands in my mouth.

So there I was, blisfully reclining in that blue vinyl chair of torture while the good doctor and his wife yanked and pulled at the innards of my mouth. The situation really sucked but at least I could enjoy the nether regions of my imagination, completely intoxicated by the laughing gas (which never made me laugh). My blissful daze was not to last forever though. I found myself gently pulled from chemical nirvana to realize that saliva was backing up near my throat. I had no desire to be awakened to reality so I reassured myself that the good doc would use his oral vacum and get to it in due time.

Suffice it to say the good doc never got to it. I managed to waken myself and, with two pairs of hands in my mouth, I squeezed out the words “SUKSHUN PEAS”. If they don’t teach sensitivity in dental school, they certainly do teach linguistics because I was (as always) understood completely. That fact still amazes me. Anyway, Mr. Dentist reached for his suction tube and shoved it into my mouth to lessen the ever growing pool of saliva I had accumulated. His good intentions were a little too late.

When the suction tube was placed into my mouth, the plastic tubing added just enough weight to the pool of spit so that some of it slipped back down my throat. My gag reflexes lost control and I threw up all over myself, all over the nice blue chair and all over the arms of my tormentor. It made a bigger mess than it normally would have by virtue of the fact that half of my face was numb from novacaine and thus I had little muscular control over my face. Vomit came out of my mouth like a water hose on full blast with no one holding it.

Somehow the dentist & I managed to continue through the final 10 minutes needed to finish up the procedure. I was nauseated, had horrible mouth pains and I was covered in puke. The doctor was likely annoyed at the loss of his office for a day, certainly tired from the long procedure he worked and he was definitely not too thrilled (albeit professional) about being spewed upon by my digestive juices. It wasn’t a good day for either of us.

I did not visit a dentist for many years after that incident. It has ever since been ‘like pulling teeth’ to get me to one. Yes, pun intended. Shortly after the whole mishap, I heard the dentist resigned from the medical field and went into architecture. There’s probably no customers puking on him there. Half of me feels guilty for destroying his career but the other half of me feels like a hero: I saved the world from a dentist with large hands.

I haven’t told this story to my current dentist. I probably won’t (she may raise my rates). I was however quick to warn her of my rather sensitive gag reflexes and I now prefer not to use the nitrous oxide. Even if she is stabbing me with needles, she’s only trying to help. It wouldn’t be polite to puke on her. Maybe one day the science of dentistry will progress into an art that is simple and painless. Until that time, the dentist will remain a frenemy.

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