“Is it safe?”

I recently went to the dentist.

For most normal people that’s roughly a twice a year event. For me, it’s a bit more involved.

Intellectually, I know that going to the dentist is really not that big of a deal. I’ve had c-sections. I’ve had cancer. I had a 12″ crochet hook removed from my lower back (and THAT is a whole other blogpost). But tell me that I need to go to the dentist and I just want to curl into a fetal position and die.

I know it isn’t my personal dentist. He’s friendly, knowledgable, works quickly. Totally reassuring. I think it’s just the whole process that gets to me. I mean, when I had surgery, I didn’t actually SEE anything. I was awake during the c-sections, but my lower half was strategically draped so my vision of everything was blocked. During other surgeries, I was asleep. At the dentist, they keep a little tray at eye height filled with all sorts of pointy sharp metal utensils that look like they date back to the 13th century.  It’s like being in that last scene in Braveheart. You know. The one where he dies.


The other nerve-racking part of the experience is the dialogue. Any procedure that starts with, “Let me know if this hurts,” can never turn out well. In terms of my own nerves, they might as well just ask “Is it safe?” and start drilling into one of my healthy teeth a la Marathon Man.



And then there’s the smoke. And the sounds. And the moment that you get to rinse and watch pieces of enamel and gum wash away in that cute little sink. How adorable!

It really isn’t any wonder that dentists get such bad raps. I can’t think of one film that portrays a dentist as someone even remotely on the spectrum of “normal”. They’re either serial killers, misanthropes, abusive fathers, or heartless, fish-stealing, Aussies. I wouldn’t be surprised to find one of those blue paper towels attached to those little clips in Christian Grey’s red room of pain.

Though there are always masochists, clearly I am not alone in my skewed version of dentistry. According to wikipedia, there are five different ways to refer to “fear of dentists.” There’s a relatively new type of service called “sedation dentistry” where you can get your teeth cleaned while you sleep. There are hypnotists who help people with this fear. And then there are the others who just say, “Screw it all,” and just avoid the dentist until things get so bad they are about ready to knock out a tooth with an ice skate.

I never got over this scene.

I never got over this scene.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. It’s true I spend most of my time at the dentist gripping the seat handles and lifting myself roughly 6 inches above the chair and I will deal with tooth pain simply by eating on the other side of my mouth and pretending that the pain doesn’t actually exist. But I do suck it up and go for teeth cleanings and humiliating dentist visits where I find myself justifying my pathetic behavior to hygienists and doctors who probably couldn’t care less.

Truth is, my trips to the dentist would probably be a lot easier if I flossed a bit more. Or didn’t ignore that nagging toothache. Until then, I’m still going to be a rabid anti-dentite:

I just have to make peace with it, that’s all.






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4 replies

  1. I was reading this and hearing Steve Martin singing “To be a dentist” in the background the ENTIRE. TIME.

    This is all so true.

    I personally turned a corner when I saw a Colgate commercial where a kid wore earphones and a Walkman to the dentist and from then on I had Bono and the Edge and Joshua Tree with me at every visit. Man, that sure helped a lot. Certainly with drowning out the noise from that frikkin DRILL.

    Great post!


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