Feb 21, 2007


So I think I'm somewhat more justified than most people in thinking that dentists are evil, and here's why:

When I was little, I sucked my thumb. I remember very clearly the feeling that there was nothing in the world more comforting than having my thumb in my mouth, and sometimes I miss it, though not so much the ever-wrinkly thumb or, come to think of it, the bacterial-farm thumb. It was very difficult for my parents to get me to stop--they tried putting tobasco sauce under a bandaid, which got in the papercut that was never allowed to heal because it was always in my mouth. I screamed. They tried this special vile-tasting nail polish. I chewed it off and carried on. They consulted a dentist.

The dentist put in a wire basket that cut into the roof of my mouth and my tongue, but made it impossible to fit my thumb in there. Food would get trapped in the basket but my thumb stayed out of my mouth.

Of course, all those years with my thumb made my teeth crooked. The orthodontist determined that I had too many teeth, and four molars needed to be removed. I was sent to a dentist I'd never been to before. He gave me laughing gas--which produced not the slightest chuckle, by the way--told me to lie down, and strapped me down like Frankenstein's monster. I kid you not. They gave me the novocaine, and proceeded to pull. And pull some more. Apparently, my "stems were crooked" or something like that, and they couldn't get them out. They tugged and wiggled at all four teeth, injected more novocaine, while I cried and strained against my bonds. IT HURT. Eventually the teeth came out, and they sent me home with a prescription for super painkillers, and while my mom was in the pharmacy, I was clawing the car seats in pain.

And now the orthodontists could get to work. They moved my jaw so that I couldn't close my mouth. My mom bitched them out. They put it back--mostly. I still have to work a bit to keep my mouth closed, and my chin still wrinkles slightly. And it's prone to pimples, but that may not be related.

Meanwhile, I went to the family dentist for my usual cleanings and cavity-fillings. Of which there were many. This frustrated me because, although I was very fond of candy, I took pretty good care of my teeth. The dentist would tell me I should floss more. I would say I floss every day. He would look at me and shake his head and say "really? every day?" And I would think back and hey there was that one time when I slept over at a friend's house and didn't floss because I didn't want to miss too much of Beverly Hills 90210, but I really didn't think that was the answer. But the cavities kept piling up, more with every visit.

On my last appointment, he told me I had eleven. Eleven cavities! That was the rest of my teeth! I'd had it. I was on my way to college, the chin was wrinkled but the braces were off, I needed some time off from everyone fussing over my teeth. So I ran away from the dentist and didn't make any appointments for fillings and never looked back.

And now, eight years later, I've gone back. Guy, horrified at my dentistry-free living, insisted I go to his dentist. I have two cavities. Two. Did the other nine just go away?

My mom still goes to that family dentist, and when she reads this I bet she'll remember things differently. But this is how I remember it--and I still floss every day.


leigh.drjoes said...

We have no problem with a patient going for a second opinion. Any honest dentist will have no problem with that. There are many conservative dentists and there are many dentists that are over the top. At our office, we have usually three options for a patient, basic, better and best plan. We offer free consultations on fridays too, we see a lot of patients for second opinions. Good Luck with new dentist.

Anonymous said...

No, actually, I don't remember it differently. (Loud sigh here.) I remember EVEN MORE efforts to get your thumb out of your mouth, and the patience of the nice family dentist who tried everything he could think of, including calling you at night once to check on how you were doing -- and utterly freaking you out. Perhaps we should have just let the thumb be. Of course, you'd have had teeth pointing straight out from your mouth. (Another loud sigh.)

Julie said...

Wow. Dentists calling and reading your blog? I am stunned by the power of your teeth.