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The D-d-d-dentist

My childhood dentist had a basement office. With fake wood panelling on the walls, a massive poster of BJ Birdie holding a toothbrush, and toys of the 80s. I picture his receptionist with blue eyeshadow and hairsprayed bangs; whether this memory is accurate or not, I do not know.

I do know with great certainty that the door into his office was located past the furnace room. This is the room of strange noises, thumps and wheezes: terrifying to a child. Deadly, when located next to the dentist.)

There was no hygienist in this little outfit. The dentist did everything. He was tall and old-ish and had very bushy eyebrows. When he was leaning over my face, I could see his nose hairs. This was the first time I realized such a thing existed.

He was not much for talking. He gave instructions: "Open. Again. Spit. You can rinse now..." And at the end of every visit, he would say the same thing. "Well, there doesn't appear to be any problems, but I'm going to take an x-ray or two just to be safe."

Then he would put that heavy blanket-vest on top of me, and I wondered if I might stop breathing from the weight of it, and he'd snap his pics, and I'd be back to the waiting room while the other siblings went through.

Then, in a day or two, the receptionist might call with a message that there was a cavity or I needed braces, and off I'd go to get drilled or tightened. And eventually, I wondered why he never saw these things before the x-rays, until finally I realized that it was just a line to keep me calm.


In Vancouver, when I had trouble keeping my mouth open for a cleaning, and my jaw hurt so much, my dentist told me I have TMJ disorder, and that weird clicking-popping of my left jaw joint is actually a thing. So I am not supposed to chew gum, or eat big sandwiches or crunchy apples, and I should try not to yawn.

Yeah, no yawning for me.


So is it any wonder I'm not a fan of dentists and maybe waited too long to find a Toronto one? I just hate shopping around, and everywhere I looked seemed too pricey or too sketchy or too...something. So it was easy to keep putting it off.

Then Karen picked a dentist, and she went, and she raved that he SHOWED HER HER TEETH and was incredibly thorough and I though, I like the sound of this. So I asked for the clinic's info and then I did nothing.

Until Wednesday. I called and asked about an appointment, and they said, "We have one available tomorrow at 5," and I took it and then I sat in dread for 24 hours. And then I went, and what do you know?

This office was BIG and BRIGHT and BUSY. The receptionist was friendly. The hygienist was friendly and EVEN THE DENTIST WAS FRIENDLY. He showed me pictures of my teeth and he showed me my x-rays and he asked questions about my jaw (Did I ever have head trauma as a child? Did I break my jaw? - No, but I played a lot of soccer and definitely took a ball or two in the face. - That could do it.) and gave me helpful mouth-care tips for my non-opening mouth.

He remembered Karen and then when he saw I have no insurance, he knocked $50 off the cost of this initial visit, and I said, "Thank you!" and he said, "You seem like a nice person and I like nice people. I don't like mean people. I'd rather you spend the money on taking care of these cavities." and I said, "Oh, I will."

I am not looking forward to the fillings, but if I have to go through it, I'd rather deal with them now. And have a very thorough (and slightly excitable) dentist take care of my mouth.


Ariana said…
Oh wow, my childhood dentist's office was JUST THE SAME. But there was a treasure chest of prizes for when you were done.

I can't believe you got in to see the dentist the next day. I had to make my first appointment with my new dentist over two months in advance.

That said, I generally like going to the dentist. My mouth feels so clean when I'm done. I'm glad you've had a positive dentistry experience now.
crouton4 said…
Good thing you are so nice, Beth! What a blessing. You didn't tell us if he was young or not... ;)

Dentist is definitely NOT my favourite place to go. Didn't like it when I was young and don't like it now. Little R....she LOVES the dentist! Had her first appointment before she was 3, she begged so hard to have 'her turn'. We keep telling her she's going to be a dentist someday!
children are very enjoying.Thanks for sharing.

Daniel Hirsch said…
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