Monday, December 24, 2012

A Tribute to the Dentist

At 7:35 AM on the morn of  Christmas Eve most children were snuggled in their beds dreaming of sugarplum fairies and most adults were drinking coffee by a tree or doing last minute Christmas shopping, I was doing none of those things. Instead, I was reaping the consequences of too many sugar cookies during the month of December and getting THREE cavities filled. Three.

In all reality, it was as pleasant as a trip to the dentist could be. My dentist is funny, kind, and gentle, and she even gave me a stuffed bunny to hold while my cavities were being filled. I wanted to ask to take a photo of the fluffy bunny for this post, but I had already made the stuffed bunny wave to the dental hygienist when she walked in the door and dance to that "Last Christmas" song on the radio, I figured taking a picture would be one step too far.

My only purpose in writing this blog is to share the ridiculousness of getting cavities filled on Christmas Eve and to make a little tribute to the dentist. Below is a paper I wrote for a college creative writing class and I thought it was rather appropriate to share today.

The Dentist: Friend turned Foe?
I have good news and bad news. Even though people usually say they want to hear the bad first, I’m going to go ahead and start with the good news: you get to leave work early. The bad news? You have a dentist appointment. You could be leaving work early to go to the dentist for a number of reasons: a root canal, a broken tooth, or you might just want to take advantage of your health insurance in combination with your paid sick leave and get out of work at two instead of five. Perhaps you are scheduled just for a regular checkup; possibly during which your dentist will offer you a choice between gritty flavored toothpastes, such as cherry or fruit punch.  After that tough decision has been made, your dentist will proceed to scrape your teeth with some invasive metal instrument. Maybe you need a cavity filled, which will most likely end with your dentist giving you the sage advice that you really should be flossing more.
I have to bring it up . . .the smell. You can smell the dentist’s office while you are still standing outside. Even Mother Nature cannot conquer the stench. It is potent enough to cover up the smells of the fall leaves, the fresh grass, blooming flowers, or new snow. I googled what this smell is and found many Facebook pages dedicated to the hatred of the dentist office smell, multiple studies on how this smell evokes fear in people, and a list of origins for this smell which includes an extensive list of unpronounceable chemicals . . .and bone. Yes, bone. Part of what you smell when you enter a dentist’s office is the bone of the teeth that were drilled out of those who have come before you.
One Thursday afternoon, I was making my very own trip to the dentist to get a cracked tooth fixed. After I made it through the force field of the too recognizable stench that protects the door to the dentist office, I found myself alone in the waiting room with nothing but four other empty chairs, a plant posing as a miniature tree in the corner, and a magazine holder hanging from the wall to keep me company. There was no music playing, no mother comforting a crying child; all I heard was the sound of the drill. Having music playing in the waiting room at the dentist’s office is not an innovative idea; it is common sense. So, I went to the magazines. Reading about celebrities’ lives in People or UsWeekly is a guilty pleasure and a waiting room gives a justifiable reason. No luck. I found Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, Family Circle, and Woman’s Day. I have neither husband nor garden. And what were to happen if a man needed to get a cavity filled? Or, maybe all of the men just floss regularly.
During my lunch break on that Thursday, I was talking to my coworkers about the fact that I was going to leave early to have my broken tooth fixed. The third grade teacher told me to bite my dentist. The fifth grade teacher told me she would rather go to the gynecologist than the dentist. Is the dentist really such a pure form of evil? I don’t get this stream of negativity when I talk about other doctors, such as a foot doctor, skin doctor, or eye doctor. Then again, an optometrist doesn’t have to drill into my eyeballs. I remember the next comment as if it were a preview to a bad horror movie. Almost in slow motion, the sixth grade teacher looked up form her sandwhich (mid-bite) and had a look of warning in her eye as she said to me, “If I had to battle the devil or the dentist, I’d choose the devil.” 


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