– and other dentist lies.
Imagine how excited my two teenage boys were when I reminded them they had an 8:00am dentist appointment one Friday morning. Now imagine how delighted they were when they realized it was a PD Day.
I know. I just might win an award.
To inform them how lucky we are to have dental insurance was not a selling feature at that moment. I had robbed them of their rightful hours of extra sleep, and I’m pretty sure they were going to make me pay for it with attitude … once their brains woke up. So while one son was having his gums prodded and poked, and his teeth picked and scraped, I tried to chat it up with my older son who is in no mood for reconciliation let alone his upcoming floss and gloss routine. So I was returned to my scintillating article in National Geographic on The Teenage Brain.
The sounds that permeated the office produced for me a flash-back:
“Doctor! You better come take a look at this!”
That’s what the assistant said one day when I was at the dentist having yet another cavity filled. After injecting me with an anesthetic, the dentist and assistant promptly disappeared while the meds took effect, leaving me to ponder the ceiling tiles and listen to the swish and gurgle of the spit bowl. About 156 ceiling tiles later, I began to take a keen interest my expanding right cheek. I noticed from the lower line of my vision that one side of my face was turning into a zeppelin. I was about ten years old at the time. Needless to say, I developed a fairly significant mistrust of dentist from that day on. Subsequent visits filled me with loathing and apprehension, and then I avoided dentists altogether once I left home. To quote Dr. Seuss, dentists are as cuddly as cactuses and as charming as eels and my fear of them has not entirely wavered since that hematoma-filled memory some 37 years ago.
I’m curious what motivates a person to become a dentist. Of all the Nurse, Teacher, Police Officer and Fireman crayon drawings that adorned the walls of my kindergarten class of 1968, I don’t remember a single 5- year old’s rendering of a dentist. Seriously, no amount of financial gain could motivate me to enter a profession that millions require heavy medication to endure. No one has ever heard about ‘anesthetized accounting’ and yet ‘sedation dentistry’ exists. Why is there such a thing as sedation dentistry? Because it is believed that 75% of Americans experience dental phobia to some degree. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes dental phobia as a “marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable”. The fact that dental phobia is even listed in the DSM causes me anxiety and apprehension that is excessive and unreasonable, and surpasses the level of anxiety and apprehension I feel at having referred to this manual yet again.
So when both boys had finished their PD Day field trip, the dentist came out to inform me that all was fine. For my oldest she added, “We might take an x-ray of his wisdom teeth next time, though, and see if they’re ready to come out.” I had this sudden longing for noxious oxide as the memory of the removal of my 4 impacted wisdom teeth resurfaced.
Later that day, my son finally he asked about his wisdom teeth (and I pondered his future dental phobia). “Why do we have wisdom teeth if we don’t need them?” To which I responded with wisdom, “They go with your tail bone that doesn’t have a tail.”
“Haha. Very funny. Why are they called wisdom teeth, anyway?”
“Well, ” I began, “I believe they are called wisdom teeth because they grow in during adulthood, long after our other teeth have grown in…”
“And obviously,” he smirked, “yours were taken out a long time ago?”
Ha. Ha. Very funny.
“Did you also just lose your short-term memory teeth?”
“Anyway,” he continued, “when do you think I will get mine out? He asked.
Why, over the summer holidays, of course, or perhaps on your birthday.