Friday, February 15, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - Teeth - 2/17/08

When the prompt of teeth came up it made me consider writing about something that has been bothering me for some time. My dentist is old. He bridges the gap between the time barbers performed dentistry (I am sure glad they broke those two professions out) and today’s modern procedures.

I am sure there are requirements for ongoing education for a dentist to keep up with modern technology, but I am in South Carolina. I am not certain there even exists state requirements for dentists to attend dental school in the first place.

My dentist does have a framed degree on the wall, which makes me feel a bit more confident in his qualifications. But I am not certain that just because he attended Colgate University, I should assume he received dental education. That could easily be a professional joke among dentists. Maybe this accounts for that one out of five dentists that doesn't recommend Crest. He is a Colgate alum.

I still miraculously have most of my own teeth, though I have some constant issues, having survived 20 years of military dentistry, where a temporary filling often lasts a lifetime. And due to funding, they sometimes share equipment with the motor pool.


Back to my dentist. I sometimes wonder as he or his assistant is rooting around inside my mouth with something sharp, if there is some young high-tech dental whiz kid that can just aim some kind of phaser in the direction of my mouth and all my dental problems are zapped away. Plaque – gone. Tartar – gone. Gingivitis – gone. Calculus – gone. Painless and quick.


It seems he uses the same procedures that dentists used when I was a kid. Brush and floss. Through the years they have changed brushing procedures many times. Around and round, back and forth, up and down, hard, soft. I wonder where they are at now with respect to my dentist’s instruction. Has the main stream gone to some newfangled super-effective move and he still has me brushing in circles?

And what is with the arsenal of metal probes that he still uses to explore and scrape?

And the huge syringe. Junkies and diabetics have small needles, why not my dentist? Do those tools need to be on display on that tray right in front of me. Couldn't he keep them hidden until he absolutely has to use them? The assistant makes a complete Broadway Show out of lining them all up like I am a POW awaiting interrogation. Then they always leave me alone for a while to study them and make sure my anxiety and blood pressure are both spiking. My heart is beating so fast that should he draw blood, I will bleed out in minutes.

And everything he puts in my mouth tastes horrible. The polish they use after a cleaning. Holy crap, is that foul? And whatever that is that he rubs on my gums that he claims to numb them a bit before he injects me: xylocaine, novacaine, lidocaine, procaine, septocaine, or marcaine. It sure isn’t sugar cane. And since it hurts like hell anyway, why the added discomfort of that nasty stuff? They can make bubblegum taste like fresh watermelon, can’t they do something to knock some of the funk off of that stuff.

And if you have ever had to have an impression. Not only is the unknown viscous liquid material that they use in the tray cold and disgusting, but as it hardens it grows and crawls down my throat. The dentist always calls for the largest tray every produced and has the assistant mix up a batch and a half of the goo. I think the plan is to give me enough that I will gag. They probably have some sort of lunch bet on how much I can take before I actually choke.

Another concern of mine, due to his advanced age, is what if he has an attack of dementia while knuckle-deep in my mouth? Does his assistant have instructions to relieve him if he suddenly forgets he is a dentist and thinks he is carving a pumpkin or gutting a trout?

Of course if your own dentist has twenty-first century knowledge and procedures, you probably don’t know what the hell I am talking about. Except those of you in England, where I believe the barber is still performing oral surgery. Hey, if the Prince of Wales or Hugh Grant can’t be provided a decent set of teeth, the general public has no chance.

32 comments:

Lucy said...

HAHAHAHA! Barbers performed dentistry?? I didn't know that! This was so funny Rick!
You are so right about how they line up those implements like performing an interrogation!The funk, the taste, the lunch bet!! haha
As always you have me in stitches! I really needed a belly laugh this week! :))

Robin said...

Great take on the prompt - I was laughing and cringing all the way through.

PJ said...

I don't know whether to chuckle or barf!! Can I try both?? My dentist uses a clear plastic helmet complete with face mask. He looks like a bad Jetson's cartoon. And he's so young I wonder if he's passed Kindergarten yet!!!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely great writing, but hate dentists. I know two excellent young dentist's you would like. :) One did Any Griffith's teeth. He's in Wilmington NC> :)
Keep writing. I am reading more.
Miss Rose

myrtle beached whale said...

Lucy:

Yes, barbers did perform dentistry. Bloodletting and surgery too. I think the red and white pole is a reference to that history. I'll bet there was a lot of whiskey involved. I can't imagine how bad my toothache would have to be before I would let a stylist work on it. LOL

Anonymouse:

That is my whole point. If someone worked on Andy Griffiths teeth, he is either really old or he does it by mail-order.

Little Wing said...

Oh, OUCH, CRINGE!!!!!!
I may never go to the dentist again!
I hate having my teeth cleaned, it hurts!
I am such a sissy la-la girly at the dentist!!!!
Actually I doubt if they have changed much since the days of the barber/dentist!!!!!!!
Jeez, shave and a haircut and a root canal????????

chiefbiscuit said...

Reading this made me laugh and wince all at the same time ... but it was the gruesome instruments that caused the wincing - not the writing; that is funny and entertaining. :)

Beautiful Witch said...

I think I might have the best dentist in the world. They keep notes on me...so if they ask where I'm working or going on vacation and I tell them, next time they ask me about the vacation or the job. They also give me a menu of DVD's to choose from while I have my dental work done (last time I chose Finding Nemo), that's when they aren't putting a camera in my mouth so I can see exactly what they're doing. he only part that is terrifying and horrible for me is the part where they hand over the bill...great post!

The Brave said...

Oh My, that is some scary stuff right there. I think myself lucky to have had good dentists and modern technology along the way.

paisley said...

this was perfect stem to stern... loved every word....

forgetfulone said...

I don't know which part of this was the funniest! You crack me up. Yes, that goo is foul. And why can't they just aim, fire, and be done with it? I loved this post!

Lilibeth said...

What I liked was the Colgate University--does not a dentist make.

GreenishLady said...

this is why I went with the prompt of "Sleep" rather than teeth. Couldn't be thinking this kind of thought. I'm overdue for a dentist visit. thanks!

Jenn said...

true, true and true.. we went to the same dentist? haha. no, mine actually retired. i think because he didn't want anything to do with the fact that he was goind to have to start wearing rubber gloves!

tumblewords said...

Terrific! True! The stuff laughing gas nightmares are made of...painful, too! Love it!

amy said...

Terrifying! I must book an appointment for a cleaning/checkup tomorrow.

At what point does age and experience become a liability!?

missalister said...

Good lord this post is full of funny! The Crest/Colgate issue resolved, the all-purpose dental phaser, the dazzling probe arsenal show, the Brobdingnagian syringe, the bad-taste-ocaines, deep knuckle trout-gutting... And just as I was getting cranky because I really should leave the blogosphere and get to work! Thanks for the respite!

anthonynorth said...

I read this with my eyes closed.
I hate dentists.
But it was good :-)

forgetfulone said...

No fair bragging about being able to sleep like a baby!!!!!!!!!!! JK

javacurls said...

I've never laughed so much reading a SS posting!!

I agree with you completely about being left alone with all those dental instruments; my blood pressure goes up considerably! And that needle... oh god.. I feel like I'm in another century when they bring that out! lol!!

Great posting!!

gautami tripathy said...

I loved those tools!

:D

snooze time, baby!

nonizamboni said...

Wow, this was brutal to read. . .which means you did a great job grossing me out. [My old dentist in Idaho died recently--I didn't know how to feel. :O) ]
Thanks for sharing!

Heather said...

LOL You've done it again. I swear you can make any subject funny! Loved it! ;o)

Thanks for stopping by. I'm running late this week all the way 'round, and sure appreciate the visit!

myrtle beached whale said...

I appreciate all your great comments. Please come back. Your comments mean a lot to me.

Frankie said...

hahaha what a wonderful mix of humor and disgust you've brought me. Look at those tools! I couldn't tell right away if they were for your mouth or to work on a car. I know just what you mean about lining them up...my dentist does that as well. Do I really NEED to see the sharpness of them before he puts them on my gentle gums? I really enjoyed reading this and look forward to reading more!! Thanks for sharing!

Granny Smith said...

I loved every paragraph of this! I couldn't stop laughing. Just to make you jealous, MY dentist (or his assistant) offers me a choice of flavors for the final polish. The chocolate mint is so good that I have trouble not swallowing it.

myrtle beached whale said...

Granny:

See, that is my point. My dentist should know about flavored polish. His is flavored with the same flavor that is at the bottom of a bird cage.

UL said...

this was hilarious ...truth spoken so well, thank you.

lisrobbe said...

this was so funny. you have such a great sense of humor! ever thought of stand up comedy? I had an old dentist up until a year ago and I decided to call it quits, his hands shook too much in the long run for me I was afraid I would be injured.

p.s. the person in my poem is just fine.

Rivergirl said...

Augh! Brings visits for fillings just a little too clearly to mind!

Debby Wicks said...

Thanks for read! Enjoyed myself. You are a funny guy!! <3 ~D

Educator said...

Hilarious!! Colgate University? That's too funny. Your writing is wonderful. Why do they line up those torture tools right in front of us?