The Dentist’s Paradox

I went to the dentist today. I’ve been there a lot recently, seeing as I hadn’t gone for a while. It turns out I have more than a little work to get done. This time around I was taking care of a couple of evil cavities gnawing away at my molars.

When I was brought in to the… uhm.. operating room (I guess), I was told to sit in the oft dreaded dentist’s chair. As usual, the dentist was off finishing another appointment making beautiful smiles, so I had a few minutes to contemplate not only the impending pain-staking experience, but also also to get bored. Normally, I find the controller for the operating chair, lay it back, and make myself comfortable. (Might as well take a nap while I wait, right?) This time around the chair was turned off, which meant I was stuck in the quasi-upright position the chair defaults to, or as I like to call it, the most uncomfortable position for a chair possible.

Looking around for something to do (other than read Fark on my phone), I noticed all the equipment used was out and, frighteningly, within my reach: the little spritzer of water and air, the suction vac used to suck up all the blood and spit, something that looked like a vacuum cleaner hose with an oxygen mask attached inside which you’re supposed to spit in when you’ve rinsed, a that big light that hovers above your mouth when it’s being worked on, the X-Ray cannon they shoot at your cheeks, and even some of the doctor’s sharper tools, like that mini hand mirror, that pointy scraper thing used to scrape out plaque and poke at your gums, and of course, the dreaded drill. Being curious by nature, I picked up a few of the items and decided I should learn how to operate them: flip a swich, suck a bit; Press a button, water shoots out, etc, etc.

It wasn’t long before mischievous thoughts entered my mind. “What if I stuck a ball of paper inside the suction thing?” “Can the suction from this thing hold up that tray with all the tools?” “Would this cup’s bottom get crushed if I put it here?” “If I poured water into this vacuum thing, would is just suck it all up, or would a tank somewhere eventually fill and back up?” (Ewwww…) Of course, I decided not to try any of those, or to play with any of the readily available sharp objects all over the room for that matter. I figured that being bored and trying to find something fun to do is one thing. Being bored and being stupid — well now, there’s the recipe for a Darwin award. After all, the last thing you’d want to do in a dentist’s office is screw around with the equipment that will eventually be used on you.

After the doctor came in, she quickly got to work. Numb the gum, poke a bit. “Hurts? No? Let’s start.” Then I heard the ever familiar whir of the drill.

As the drilling progressed, I came to a realization: both my doctor and her assistant were women. Mind you, I had noticed that they were women before, but I never really realized it until at one point during the procedure, both of them had their fingers in my mouth, along with two suction-type devices and a spritzer/air thingy, and neither tried to rip my cheek off or cause me more pain than I otherwise would have to had endured.

I guess that’s why I prefer female dentist over male dentists. Same goes for dental assistants, despite the fact that I’ve never actually seen a guy at that type of job. Aside from it fulfilling what I’m sure is every man’s dream of having multiple possibly beautiful women bending over him and sticking their fingers in his mouth (not that I want that or anything), ever since my old cosmetic dentist Kent, I find that female dentists are usually a bit more liberal with the anesthesia, and seldom use pithy, patronizing statements like “the rest of this won’t hurt”, “that didn’t really hurt that much, did it?” and “don’t worry, we’re almost done” as responses to requests for more anesthesia. Of course, another bonus is that it real easy to cop a feel with the more attractive ones, especially when they’re bending over you. Don’t worry, I’m not speaking from experience here. For those of you considering this, however, let’s think it all the way through: would you really want to try a and cop a feel from and likely piss off women who (a) outnumber you, (b) are currently holding sharp objects inside your mouth, and are (c) drilling at your teeth? Probably not, at least not any more than you’d try to cop a feel from a nurse right when she’s about to draw your blood, or more accurately, during the process.

As the procedure went on an odor began to arise out of my mouth. Was that… smoke!? Actually, yes. Since I’m not a smoker, this development was a bit disconcerning, but I figured the dentists was probably just using a blow torch to melt my tooth or something. No biggie. I surprised was, however, when I heard second drill type being used. Most people know about and hate the drill type with the high-pitched “whirrrrrrr” sound, the one the dentist generally uses to do in 1 minute what it takes cavities years to accomplish. Most people, however, haven’t met with the second drill, the one which causes crunching noises to come forth from your mouth as it grinds into a tooth. This is a much slower, much more violent drill which I can only presume is responsible for not only digging through old fillings, but also punching tunnels through redwood trees and excavating mountains. The sound was scary, true, but imagine how much more fearful I felt at seeing chunks of stuff formerly attached to my mouth fly out.

After using their brute-force excavation techniques on me, the doctor left the assistant to patch me up by sticking a blow dryer in my mouth. I should try that once in a while, you know, just for kicks. “Hey honey,” I could ask The Wife, “where’s your blow dryer? I need to superglue something to my teeth.” I have a feeling, though, that there’s a Darwin award waiting to happen there, too.

She finished, had me rinse and spit into the oxygen mask/vacuum hybrid, and sent me on my merry way — $110 dollars poorer.

As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of dentists. Sure, they’re usually nice people, even if they are a bit sadistic. Still, if the best way to describe the experience of meeting one usually includes drills, vacuums, and crunching sounds — all of which involve your mouth — I’m sure you can see where I’m coming from. Frankly, I wish I never had to see one again. Paradoxically, however, the way to see less of a dentist of to see more of the dentist. Go figure.

7 thoughts on “The Dentist’s Paradox

  1. As well, modern dentists don’t (or shouldn’t) make rough excavation techniques on the tooth. Old amalgam fillings (usually metal) are held in place by a mechanical bond. The filling material, as a liquid, is put into the hole, and it eventually hardens and expands to the point where the filling is too big to come out. The problem with this is porosity. It’s not impervious to liquid, and after a certain number of years they need to be replaced — more drilling to make the hole bigger.

    Newer techniques use composite fillings (usually tooth-coloured) are chemically bonded and completely sealed. As far as I know, most dentists use these fillings nowadays.

    Maybe it’s time to find a different dentist if you’re not getting the modern treatement, though you may pay even more. I’ve also had really rough female dentists, and really gentle male dentists before. As my current career in the dental industry has taught me, each has their own personality.

  2. Actually my dentist is now using the composites. The issue yesterday was that a few teeth were getting drilled right next to one with a filling, which caused the vibrations.

    Also I like to use colorful language. “Excavation” was just a… colorful euphemism for what they were doing. 😀 To be honest, the experience yesterday wasn’t all that bad, at least not until the “crunch crunch crunch” of the filling, and that was just circumstantial the positioning of both the “new” cavity and the old filling, which is going to be replaced soon anyway, as per request. (I don’t want metal in my mouth.)

  3. Oy! I’m off to brush and floss! The extent of my dental work is the oral surgery I had to remove all four wisom teeth. Thankfully I remember nothing of it and got to take a nap for the rest of the day while my husband and MIL watched the kids. Not a bad trade off- LOL!

    PS – my husband started his blog – – but I will be darned if he has written anything yet (baby steps . . .)

  4. @Melissa: Congrats on getting your husband to start a blog. ( would’ve been better — IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR HIM!) Be glad you haven’t had any dental surgery. Most of the time they don’t let you sleep, although I’ve learned that if you go to sleep in the presence of just about any doctor — unless you’re married to them — you’ll invariably wake up in more pain than if you had been awake.

    On a related note, I’ve been trying to comment on your blog but for some reason, Blogger and my browser don’t seem to get along. I don’t know if it’s the network here or if it’s something else, but nevertheless, my apologies for the seeming rudeness of non-reciprication.

  5. i have that coming, too.
    thanks for the nice read… perhaps i’m a tiny bit less anxious now… could need that… i’ll try thinking about your “colorful language” while they rape my mouth…

    anyways, you have a nice way of writing, i’m going to subscribe 🙂

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