– 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.

27 Responses to "Now, this won't hurt a bit …"

  • PA days and the dentist office. That made me laugh. I do that to my kids all the time, and I’m sure they hate me for it. Never fun going to the dentist no matter what. My daughter just had her wisdom teeth taken out in March. It went pretty good – no problems. Now my dentist tells me my 19 year old son needs his out as well. I guess money is no object to the dentist.

    • I know – I don’t think they’ve forgiven me yet. I’m glad your daughter’s experience was ok. My early relationships with dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons were nightmares but I did actually find a wonderful dentist who practically held my hand and helped me get over my fear of dentists. I do now go every 6 months now, just like a good girl:)
      I know dentists charge according to some fee guide but I had a friend once without dental insurance and she was charged half what my insurance company was charged … not sure how the fee guide is determined…

  • Ah! You had to remind me—I’m sooo over due for a cleaning! I love my dentist, she’s a delightful woman, a neighbor and has always been great to my kids. BUT, she’s only held in such high esteem because since I’ve been availing myself of her services she’s never had to do any real work on me. I don’t know what I’ll think of her should I need any type of drilling.

    • Well, Lynne, if your dentist’s meds are good, you won’t notice the drilling! But here’s hoping it never comes to that 🙂

  • I think your kids are hysterical. But I hate anything to do with dental procedures. I go, but I am a total wuss about it.

  • Your son is obviously quick-witted and very smart. Nice to see you pull the power card at the end when he crosses over into smart-ass. You might ask why people choose to become parents as well…both “professions” are disdained for doing their job at times. Meds work both ways you know…

    • Can’t let them get too many steps ahead of me, now can I? You know what else he told me one day? “Guess what the top 3 drugs are in Canada today?” I went through a litany of illicit drugs trying to sound like I was in the know. Answer? Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. All legal. Meds indeed! Pass them over here!
      Thanks for reading, Amy! 🙂

  • I can totally relate since I hate the dentist and put off making the appt. way longer than I should because I know he’ll yell at me for not flossing! Great story! Lisa

  • “Over the summer or on your birthday…” BAHAHAHA! If I’d taken better care of my teeth when I was younger, I wouldn’t have grown up to be the root canal queen. I’m with your son on the wisdom teeth thing. Clearly, God was rushing to get to his Sunday golf game.

  • Very amusing. I, too, love the last line. But, maybe I’m dense because I have to ask, what is a PD Day?

    • Professional Development Day for teachers = no school for kids. I think they’re also called professional activity days? My kids have about 4-5 of them over the course of the school year. Thanks for stopping in, Monica!

  • Astra, I think I may have been one of the case studies that prompted the DSM IV to include dentist phobia. Oh my Jesus, I hate going to the dentist. I kid you not when I say that it takes a lot of prayer, meditation, and bargaining with God himself so I can actually make it to the dental office. Once there I can literally feel the symptoms of a panic attack coming on and I start to think I’m going to swallow that skinny hose they put in your mouth to drain your saliva. The room almost always spins and the dentist looks like an extraterrestrial with his surgical mask and glasses. My heart goes out to your boys today. Thank goodness it’s over, right? 🙂

    • Bella poor you! I can sure relate. There are upsides to sedation dentistry right? Just make sure you don’t operate heavy machinery immediately following your appointment!

  • This is a hoot!

    I *never* ran into anyone in grades 1-12 who said ” I wanna be a dentist when I grow up”. I mean, the thought of rooting around in some mouths would make me want to blow lunch. People who are dental-phobic are just not going to have the best looking mouths around. Bleh.

    Here’s one for you. I clench/grind my teeth at night (now wearing a night guard) but I didn’t believe the dentist for years. Oddly, this can cause damage that makes your gums recede. I know, this makes no sense; didn’t to me either. So, I had to have gum grafts. They take little strips from the roof of your mouth and suture them to your gums. This really isn’t as bad as it sounds, and the surgeon had this marvelous chair that gave you a back massage and some fairly decent drugs. But for about a *year* I had no feeling in the roof of my mouth. Weird.

    Maybe your kids wisdom teeth will just fly away…. best of luck!

    • EMC – I don’t think that’s as uncommon as you might believe. My son too grinds his teeth at night. We’re keeping an eye on it (the dentist is, that is) and hopefully we’ll avoid gum grafts! If my own experience with wisdom teeth is anything to go by, my kids’ wisdom teeth will not just fly away 🙁

  • Too funny! : )
    When I was a kid, I hated going to the dentist. Loathed and dreaded it. He was my parents’ professional of choice because he happened to be the brother of one of my dad’s colleagues — absolutely nothing to do with skill or credentials.
    We lived in a small rural town and drove an hour further into Nowhere-er to get to his office. (Pretty sure that’s when and why the DSM might have been invented…; )

    • Thanks for stopping by! Sounds like your childhood dentist would make for a good [horror] story too! I’ve no doubt that many a parenting moment gone bad has served as the basis for new disorder added to the DSM!

  • Oh the joys of being a parent Astra! I am looking forward to my eldest daughter coming for a few days after being in India for 9 weeks. Something tells me she’ll really enjoy some R and R before flying back to S. Korea; she’d better!!!

    • Oh Elizabeth I’m sure your daughter will have so many stories to tell 🙂 and hopefully none will have anything to do with doctors or dentists!

  • You crack me up. 157 tiles and swish … excellent descriptions. Thanks for dragging me along for the ride ( I loathe the dentist. I had an terrible experience as a kid which damaged me forever). Of course, kudos for torturing your son about the timing of his teeth removal. We moms really do take a lot of grief for our lovely children’s best interests at heart. My favorite part of being a mom (ok there are a few) but one is the banter as you have shared here.. I enjoy the dialogue between adults and ‘tweens, which you so perfectly captured.

    • Thank you Brenda! The banter is not always so jovial and pleasant, given they are teenagers, but that is what we wish to sustain in our memories, right?

  • Too funny! I tell my children to look forward to the prize they get at the end.

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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