And Nothing But the Tooth

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***I will stop there and let some of you shiver and cringe until you’re ready to move on***

Not going to lie – not my favorite person to visit even though most of the dentists I’ve had in my life have been awesome.  They were awesome people (one of them was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met in my life) – but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re, well, dentists.

For the longest time, I had awesome teeth (I’ve always needed braces and never got them, but that’s besides the point) – I didn’t have my first cavity until college.  After that, I’ve had a few, but, for the most part (knock on wooden teeth) they’ve been awesome. Strangely enough, even though I was extremely phobic of doctors for most of my life (up until my little “almost dying” thing a couple years ago), I never really had a fear of dentists.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hop around gaily strewing confetti and flower petals on dentist day, but I didn’t dread it either.  Of course, there is one thing that dentists find a little strange about me…

I don’t want Novocain.

Now before you get a picture in your head of Bill Murray from Little Shop of Horrors, no, I’m not some wacko masochist.  I just had a terrible fear of needles and I was more afraid of the needles than I was of the pain of having a cavity filled.  It’s a weird phenomenon – believe me, it sucks – but the pain doesn’t last nearly as long as the pain from the shot does after the Novocain wears off!  The drill gives you a cold, dull pain – but as soon as the drill comes off your tooth, the pain stops.  By the time I’m leaving the office, I feel like nothing happened.

Most of my dentists didn’t have a problem with this – or anything really – they were laid back, roll-with-it kind of folks.  I just had a bad habit of picking dentists that were nearing retirement so I never got to keep one for more than a couple years.  But there’s always one bad apple…

My dentist had recently retired and I needed to find another one fast – I had lost a filling.  I looked through the phonebook and found one that was taking new patients and I made an appointment.

I should have known I was going to have issues when I had to go around the back of another business and up the back stairs to an unmarked office to find this guy.  I checked in at the front desk; the receptionist handed me a clipboard and pointed to the chairs.  No warm fuzzies there!  I filled out the patient information and brought it back to the receptionist who then pointed at the door to the office.  I walked in and saw the dentist sitting at a little desk in the corner.  He turned around and looked at me as I entered and told me to have a seat in the chair.

He was all business.  Asked me a couple questions and then had me open my mouth and got to work.  During the exam, he started scolding me.  I knew he was scolding me because before he started he said, “Now that you can’t talk back I’m going to scold you a bit.”

Who says that?!  I chuckled a bit because there was no way this guy was serious.

He was.

He said my gums were angry.  Angry?  They always seemed pretty chipper to me.  They held my teeth pretty solid, I treated them to some Juicy Fruit now and then – we had a good relationship.  They never voiced their opinion to me; never once told me that they were unhappy in the least!  What hurt the most was that they wouldn’t tell me themselves, I had to find out through a stranger – one with psychic gum reading abilities, no less!

He said I needed a much stiffer brush (I chuckled again, not because I thought he was joking – just because I’m not mature enough to handle the word “stiffer” – he was not amused) and I needed to brush my gums until they bled.

Hold up…I’m SUPPOSED to have bleeding gums?!!  1) How would making them bleed help my gums with their anger issues?  If anything I was sure that would piss them off even more!  And 2) what kind of weird bizarro doctor wants you to cause yourself to bleed?!!  If I were to go to my general care physician and tell her that I exercise until I bleed, she might have an issue with it.  If I go to my optometrist and tell him I put my contacts in until I bleed, he might steer me in a different direction.  If I go to my proctologist…okay, never mind.

He went on to tell me if I keep neglecting my gums like I do my teeth would fall out by the time I was 35.  Um…just turned 37…still NOT making myself bleed…and still have all my choppers nice and secure!  BOOYAH!!!  If I wasn’t scared to death of that guy, I’d go back and give him a serious “I told you so!”

Then came the main event.  The drilling and filling.  He brought in the needle and I cringed.  I told him of my phobia and I told him I didn’t want the Novocain.  He looked at me like I just farted in his chair.  “What do you mean you don’t want it?”  Now what I wanted to say was how most people get a shot in their gums that numb the area before he starts to drill and I want the same thing except the exact opposite…but I figured my usual sarcasm and sass should not be used on this man.  I explained again politely and he slowly put the needle behind him, never taking his eyes off me and never changing his look of dumbfounded disgust.

I gripped the arms of the chair and took a deep breath and he started drilling.  At one point the drill hit the nerve and I winced.  He stopped and yelled – “Well, it’s not going to feel good!”  That’s when I snapped.

I pushed his hand away, stood up and got in his face.  I yelled, “Look, doc, I’ve had just about enough of your attitude. I didn’t complain, I didn’t even whimper, I think I’m being pretty badass here and I’m even saving you some time and medicine in the process.  So how about you do your damn job so I can get out of here and we can go our separate ways.  Or you can keep this crap up and I’ll report you to the ADA for harassing your patients!”

…okay, none of that happened.  I just nodded sheepishly and closed my eyes again.  Seriously, I think the dude was crazy – not even sure he was a real dentist – I wasn’t going to get lippy with the guy drilling into my face!

He finished drilling, put in the filling stuff, and asked me to bite down firmly.  Then he told me to open up and repeated that two more times.  Then he said, “Okay…” like you would before you said or did something else.  He went into the next room.

Ten minutes later the receptionist came in and yelled at me.  “Why are you still here?  He’s done.  He already went to lunch.”

Dude!  I still had cotton in my mouth!  I was still wearing the little bib thingy!  He just up and left!!!  So I cleaned up my little area and walked out.

I still don’t have a problem with dentists…but I did develop some slight abandonment issues thanks to that guy and, needless to say, my gums and I have been in counseling so that we are no longer afraid to share our true feelings with one another.  It has made all the difference.

“Happiness is your dentist telling you it won’t hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill.” ~ Johnny Carson

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