Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dentists

is for dentists.

I dread going to the dentist.

I find myself thinking the exact same things every time I'm sitting in a dentist's chair, usually in the exact same order:

I feel twitchy just thinking about going to the dentist.

The smell and the creaking and the pain would be enough on their own, but I also manage to be at my most awkward when sitting in a dentist's chair. I don't know where to look when another person's eyes are inches away from mine. I hate making small-talk at the best of times, let alone when my mouth is filled with metal and fat latex-covered fingers. I become hyper-aware of just how loudly I breathe.


One time I spent what felt like hours with a dental assistant's breast cupped in my hand as she leaned over me and tried to find a vein in my uncooperative arm.

What exactly is the appropriate etiquette in that situation? Do you pull your arm away mid-needle-poke? Do you make a joke about not wanting to pay for extra services? Do you politely say "Excuse me, but I think that I'm holding your breast"?

In the end, I chose the rather less straightforward "stare at the ceiling and pretend I'm somewhere else" approach. But from that point on, I worried that any dentist's appointment might end up with me grabbing someone's appendage - as though I didn't already have enough to worry about.

The last time I went to the dentist, I found myself in a room with a young man who cheerfully announced that he was the dentist.

Did I say man? I meant to say boy.

Please note: despite the look on my face, I wasn't bothered by the fact that he was young. I was mostly just bothered by the fact that he was a dentist.

Does thinking that someone looks too young to be a dentist mean that I'm not young anymore?

After lulling me into a false sense of almost-but-not-quite-security with his pudgy baby face, he picked up his instruments of death.

When he'd finished using pointy things to make holes in my mouth, the dentist stepped out for a moment and returned with my x-rays. Now, I generally find x-rays pretty cool. But the things that he was saying were so boring.

When people talk about boring things - like flossing, or directions, or why I should take better care of my bank card - I tend to zone out.

I glanced at his ring finger.

It was only when his voice trailed off that I realized that I hadn't glanced at his ring finger.

Glancing would involve looking quickly and then looking away.

No, I was staring at his ring finger, a stupid little half-smile on my face as I imagined him and his girlfriend in their dentist-smelly apartment.

My stomach flip-flopping and my toes curling up with embarrassment, I slowly looked up to find him blushing and fidgeting, a look of dismay on his baby-young face.

He shifted from one foot to the other and avoided eye contact, obviously horrified that his patient had been gazing so purposefully at his ringless finger.

What was the proper etiquette in this situation? What should I say?

"No, you've misunderstood. I don't find you attractive at all. You remind me of a pudgy toddler."
"You have very...ummm...clean fingernails."
"I'm a hand doctor. I'm researching hands. I'll have my assistant call you about the bone deformity that I noticed on your upper right index."

There was no right thing to say. It was like the boob-in-the-hand, all over again.

In the end, I just cleared my throat, said thank you, got up and walked out of the office.

Oh well. At least I didn't find myself clinging to any of his appendages.

* Please note: for the sake of the story, I decided to make my dentist stab my gums with pointy things and then helpfully point out that I was bleeding. In reality, that's actually the dental hygienist's job. Artistic license, along with the fact that I didn't have time to make another clay person. The rest of the story is true, though.

. . . .

Want more? Luckily for you, there are 3 whole letters before D in the alphabet!

A Clay Baboons Alphablog: 26 Things That Annoy Me, Confuse Me, Creep Me Out, or Otherwise Make My Life More Difficult.

Click on a letter to read more.


  1. oh, you have just described every single visit to the dentist I have ever had!!!!!!!!!! My recent dentist was a hot George Clooney type, so NOT prepared for that. I kept being embarrassed about my teeth while he was talking about his latest golf trip........


  2. Wait until you're my age and realize that almost ALL of your doctors are younger than you! Too funny, Stephanie!

  3. that was great.
    My uncle is a dentist and when I was young (maybe 13?), he pulled a tooth to make room for my 'adult' teeth. He gave me laughing gas and then returned to the room with like 2 foot long pliers - I freaked out- but was also laughing hysterically, tried to escape, and almost passed out. He was super embarrassed that he almost injured me for a joke. Can't say that it made me anymore comfortable going to the dentist- even it was a funny joke.
    I often stare at the ceiling and wonder why they don't put screens up there to make us more comfortable or at least silly kitten pictures like they do that obgyn.

    1. Just had to say they have TV's "up there" where I go.

  4. Omg, I almost wrote about dentistss. I already had my post wriitten and scheduled when i was forced to go tto mine yesterday by a tooth in need of a roo canal. It hurt so bad i wanted to rock in the corner and cry like a child. The tooth, not the trip to the dentist. He gave me vicodin for my birthday and promised to pull painful tooth on Monday. This is how bad it hurts, I want it pulled sooner.

  5. I am totally with you on hating the dentist and how awkward the whole thing is! It is beyond traumatizing!

  6. I'm going with the deformity option. ;) HAH!!

    The last time I went to the dentist I had to go back three more times. For "deep cleaning." I was like, WTF?! Isn't that why I went in the first place?!

  7. this is an absolutely fabulous blog post (or should i say divine since it is "d" day), stephanie. what a hoot to read.
    i love all your points about the dentist experience: the smell, the awkwardness of talking with your mouth full, the stabby, i don't mind the dentist, and i have to laugh because my dentist is a workaholic and the joy he finds in being a dentist is way too funny.
    hope you don't have to go again for a while!
    i love the clay figures, as always - the blushing dentist is award-worthy.
    (i call police officers "child cops" because they look wayyyy too young to be enforcing the law).

  8. For some strange reason I always think of the film The Marathon Man. Not a good idea but it is now part of going to the Dentist........AAAAAAuuuuuuugggghhHHHHH

  9. Are you sure we're not sisters from another mister? Dear god in heaven, I need nitrous just to get my teeth cleaned. Dentists are really, really scary. And hearing the scraping noise in your head while they're cleaning? *shudder* No matter how loud I turn up my iPod, it just doesn't seem to drown that out. Ugh.

    You're going to do spiders for S, aren't you?

  10. You're so amazing with clay. Apparently I'm lame again, I like going to the dentist for cleanings. I leave and I don't want to eat for hours. What if something gets them dirty!?

  11. I just went to the dentist, orthodontist, dr. and eye doctor on Monday. I enjoy going to the dr. and orthondontist because I like to pretend we're friends. I agree with the dentist though, definitely not my favorite activity. I kept getting wafts of latex smell for the rest of the day. I think it left its stench on my face or something, if that is possible. Also, my dentist told me that he just had another baby girl. It is hard to congratulate someone when their instruments of doom are in your mouth.

  12. My sister is a dentist. I cannot understand what motivates people to stick their hands in other people's mouths all day. I mean, sure, there are some disgusting aspects to my job, but I don't have to suck in halitosis all day long!

    I'm not a fan of the dentist either, but the one I have now is really good. However, I do recommend the flossing, because periodontal disease and gum grafts are no joke. There's my PSA for the day.

  13. oh man... this reminds me that i really should go to the dentist...

    but dude...
    i don't want to!

    i know she's just going to tell me i suck at teeth - in general.
    and make my gums bleed.

  14. My favorite visit to the dentist was when I was about 8 years old. Always hated going because the quack refused to use Novocaine or anything he did.
    One time he put this horrendous flouride paste on my teeth. After about two minutes of that horrid crap dripping into the back of my throat (this was long before they had that little vacuumy thing they put in your mouth to suck out the drippage), I threw up all over him and the hygienist.

  15. Laughed out loud at this, had to explain to my coworkers, then made them all read it. All while reminiscing about the time I went to a rather busty hairstylist whose boobs ended up all over my shoulder/lower face while she vigorously shampooed my hair. How do you bring up, "Excuse me, your breasts are jiggling in my face?" without, you knowing, saying "Excuse me, your breasts are jiggling in my face."

  16. This is hysterical! I am not a fan of the dentist. I don't think my dentist is a fan of me either--I white knuckle it on the armrests. I'm very jumpy--except of course when I take valium :)

  17. Ooh, they used the "it's not pain, it's pressure" line on me when I had my wisdom teeth removed. LIES, I tell you. LIES!

    -Barb the French Bean

  18. I just got back from the orthodontist. Last month, I was promised an easy appointment. Currently, I'm waiting for my Aleve to kick in while flinching and eating Cup of Noodles because they "just had to adjust it a little bit"... That's totally why I feel where my tooth moved.

    I'd like to see them on the other end of the sharp and painful torture devices.

  19. LOVE it!.. you are freaking funny.. so glad I found your blog. Great D word! Happy A-Z ing... :-)

  20. I hear ya! Going to the dentist is an uncomfortable part of life. Thankfully I haven't had the cupping of any body parts fun (and hopefully will never have it), but I'm definitely with you on wondering where to look. I just try to put myself in my happy place.

  21. How ironic you chose this subject. I am in the midst of have a partial lower plate and full upper denture installed due to bad dental hating it so much I have not been in forever. At least now nothing hurts anymore and I don't mind going. At least I'll have new teeth when I go to Belize!

    Also, I find it extremely laughable that once your in the chair they want to take your blood pressure. Then remark about how very high it is! I want to see anyone go to the dentist and have a normal BP reading. Only a masochist could do that.

  22. Oh man, I hate going to any kind of doctor, dentists included. I tend to look in the dentist's eyes when he's working on my mouth, since the rest of his face is covered, and he's pretty much blocking anything else I can look at. Then he inevitably notices me staring at his eyes and appears to get creeped out. So don't worry, your dentist isn't the only one who mistakenly thinks his patient is in love with him.

  23. AAAAAhhhhhh I hate dentists. They have the longest needles of any dr person. Aahhhhhhhhhh.
    Loving those x-rays though. LOL.

  24. I had a few hygienists along the way who thought I should watch them floss my teeth. Yes, I want to see how my gums bleed, as I wouldn't believe you otherwise, there'd be no clue. They had to know that I help their dorky mirrors at just the right angle to count the ceiling tiles!

  25. Agh! Staring at this ring finger! That is totally something I'd find myself doing. "You remind me of a pudgy toddler"--hee! The dentist with pointy instrument models are great.

    I always forget how much I hate the dentist until I'm actually in the chair. I have amnesia every single time.

  26. This is hilarious! The entire dentist's office now thinks you are overly flirtatious--male, female, young, old... who cares? You don't! I love it. When I was a kid, my dentist used to hang posters on the ceiling so you would have something to look at while they poked in your mouth. So thoughtful. And he was pretty cute (and 35 years older than me), so I didn't mind.

  27. Ha, ha you just made my day with this. Thanks for the laugh!

  28. I got twitchy just reading this. Ugh. The dentist.
    Mine is not so young, but he's really kind of unfriendly and grouchy. I thought I'd prefer that---no small talk. But the unfriendliness is awkward too.
    Maybe I'll just never go back.

  29. "Excuse me, but I think that I'm holding your breast" Bahahahah! Awesome. Made me LOL. For reals.

  30. Hahahha this is fantastic. Also, I hate the dentist. I love how you point out its the hygienists job - I doubt anyone would call you out on it :P

  31. cute post. and, i don't like going to the dentist... yet, i have no clue why?.....

  32. Great. I have my check up appt. tomorrow.
    Yes, I hate the hooks! Having them go at me with the hooks and then watching them wipe gunk onto gauze is what got me into the flossing habit.
    My other favorite part is when the saliva starts flying into my face during cleaning. Good stuff.

  33. I usually feel as if most doctors and dentists are impossible to please. And when you put off going to them for an issue, they feel offended that you didn't visit them sooner. It's awkward. Like a junior high school relationship.

  34. Yeesh, dentists. But you still brought me a smile with your pics and words. I'll say it again if I haven't said it already---I love your blog voice!

    Look forward to your challenge run…
    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  35. When I was a kid I was really scared with the dentist.
    Do check out my E at GAC a-z

  36. Hehehe you're funny but really you're at their mercey - it's like mouth rape...
    I remember having a horizontal examination in the doctor's surgery once with the doctor's erection making itself known to my unsuspecting forearm. Ew

  37. "Excuse me but I think I am holding your breast" HAHAHAHAHA so funny. I HATE the dentist too... I have put it off for far too long and now I will probably need to have ALL my teeth taken out and new ones screwed in. Oh man!

    Loving your A- Z!!! :)

    Love Elle xo

  38. I am loving your clay stories! This one was brilliant (to me, possibly less so for you!). I had been to the same dentist forever, and have fond memories of jumping happily up onto the dentist chair while my sister screamed her wishes to be anywhere else. Now I've moved away I spend my whole time praying I never need to go to the dentist again - mine was the only nice one, the others are scary...not as scary as hairdressers though *shudder*

  39. Mass response to everyone: thanks for your comments! I don't have time to respond to each of these individually today, but I loved reading every one of them. I guess a lot of us are in the same dentist's chair!

  40. Oh yes. Dentists. I have five teeth that do not have to have any work done, and have never had to have any work done. Five. Every other tooth has at least one cavity, and I have 4 of 7 crowns I need donw.

    I blame Mountain Dew.

    But the dentist cringes when I walk in because I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME I GO, because the novocaine shot hurts so bad, and he usually hits a nerve (I apparently have too many) and makes my nose go numb and feels like someone just shocked the tip of my tongue with a cattle prod.

    D is for Dentist, indeed.

  41. You. Are. Brilliant. This was hilarious.

  42. Oh how I LOVE this! I hate dentists (not only because mine isn't young or cute) and anything remotely dental related, but absolutely ADORED your fabulously funny & creative post! :D

  43. do you think the women who drag their boob across us during services performed are aware of what they're doing? maybe they should get their nipples pierced - it might improve their tips.

  44. My old dentist would listen to Rush Limbaugh as he was working on if being poked and prodded by pointy things wasn't painful enough!