Meet My New Dentist

dentistryI had some very awful experiences with dentists when I was a child. It started with the elderly guy who still used the same equipment he had started out with during World War I, including a hot drill which simultaneously burned out the decay and the nerve endings while scorching the sinuses — for what seemed like hours to my four-year-old mind. He also had an aversion to that new-fangled Novocaine stuff. (It was for sissies — which I was happy to be at that tender age. To this day, I still have no problem with being one.)

After one very bad session with him, we moved on to Torture Expert #2. This one didn’t like little girls who wanted their mommy in the room with them. So, when I continued to fuss, he slapped my face, then promised me more of the same if I didn’t quit crying. (His assistant did not intervene. I quit crying.)

After those two horrifying experiences, every time I went to the dentist for decades after, my stomach tied up in knots for days before the visit. I finally confessed my terror to one kind young doc, who assured me dentistry did not have to be painful anymore, and he wasn’t going to hurt me. He was true to his word, and the next thirty years went by without any further trauma — no more knots, and no more slaps.

Enter my new dentist. I didn’t ask for him. Let’s just say it was sort of an inheritance. We’ll call him Dr. Sadistic, because, you know, “The names have been changed to protect the guilty.” I mentioned to the hygienist that one of my wisdom teeth had been aching sometimes at night. So, she took an x-ray to look for an abscess or anything else abnormal. There was none to be seen. I was satisfied.

However, the clean x-ray was not good enough for the new dentist. He decided to do an “intense” test using extreme cold, to look for cracks. First, he wanted to test a “healthy” tooth and see how that one reacted. Then, he would do the same test on the “unhealthy” wisdom tooth and see how the two compared. I suspected what “intense” meant — PAIN. I should have said no on the spot, but my brain cells sometimes go into hibernation. It takes them a while to get it together. Often, it is too late to retreat by the time they accomplish ther mission.

So, he tested the molar next to the wisdom tooth in question. Now, I had not been entirely sure from the get-go which of those two teeth was the actual problem. But I neglected to mention that. He applied the cold what-ja-ma-thingy. I yelled,”YOWWW!!! We are not going to do any more of this, OK???!!!” (This is why they play music none too softly in the dentist’s office — to mask the sounds of agony in the next cubicle.)

He was disappointed that I refused to continue. Surprised, he queried after half a minute, “Is it still hurting? That’s unusually sensitive.” He had figured on six seconds. It still hurt minutes afterward, and in fact, when I left the office half an hour later, it still ached a little. The ache returned at suppertime, hours later.

Long after vacating the torture chamber, the brain cells began to hum along a little faster. “Wait a minute. He was looking for cracks in a wisdom tooth? Why? We’re not going to put a crown on it, and if it breaks or there is an abscess or decay, we’re going to pull it. And the x-ray found neither abscess nor decay, so why did we even do this? If it needs yanking, that will eventually become evident without this crazy test. … Wait another minute. Did I pay extra for this?”

I will be on my guard against Dr. Sadistic in the future. In fact, there may not be any future relationship at all.

 

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