a trip to the dentist

I hate going to the dentist. Hate it. It probably has something to do with getting 6 teeth pulled at once as a child and a jaw expander and having a root canal by the age of 12. I have horrible, terrible teeth. It's genetic. I take care of them, but something is always happening to them.

Yesterday was my dentist appointment. I pushed it back three months because of insurance issues slash I had no desire to go slash I was terrified of dealing with the horrors of my mouth. But yesterday I put on my big girl panties and I went.

As if the heavens were crying for me, it was pouring the whole way there.The rain coupled with people's inability to drive in it made me 5 minutes late to my appointment. I hate being late. Almost as much as I hate the dentist, but not quite as much. That kind of hatred is only reserved for dentists and terrorists.

I sprinted into the waiting room and up to the front window, ready to explode with apologies for being late. But the receptionist was in another world while covering a door with wrapping paper. I watched her fight with the wrapping paper and the door wondering what to do. Do I tap on the window? Open it? Is that presumptuous? Why am I too shy to even tap on the window? Can I leave and pretend like this never happened? She finally noticed me, recognizing me immediately since I've been going there since I was just a gangly little thing with braces.

I sat down in the waiting room. Maury was blaring from the TV in front of me. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. My anxiety escalated with every scream of "YOU MY DAUGHTER'S BABY DADDY! YOU IS! AND YOU BE CHEATIN' TOO!" from the TV. I looked for a magazine to read, but AARP and The Deer Issue of Field and Stream weren't going to do the trick.

Deers: the giant killers
 I scanned the walls of the waiting room, my eyes falling on the picture of my dentist's kids. One of them being a girl I graduated with. I hadn't forgotten about that, but I was trying to and those pesky pictures weren't helping.

30 minutes later, my favorite hygienist called me back. The one who taught me the importance of swishing with salt water. The one who understands my deep frustration of stress related gingivitis. She's good people, that one. She got me settled in the chair, aka the torture chamber. I caught her up on all the goings on of my mouth. I told her my mom was deeply worried that my one recently and randomly discolored front tooth was rotting and would soon fall out of my mouth, since that exact thing nearly happened to my dad. I laughed it off, acting all cool, calm, and collected in the chair. Little did she know I was internally preparing myself for "Well, Michelle, your mother is right. In fact, it's not just that one tooth. It's every tooth. We have to pull them all out, and oh! we ran out of Novocaine."

She had me open wide, and she stuck her pitchfork in my mouth, scraping and digging for buried treasure in my gums. I wanted to assure her there was no gold to be found, but she seemed intent on finding something. Every so often she would exclaim "look at this!" and I would open my eyes to see a hunk of lunch that had taken residence between my molars. Not so appetizing when it's dangling off the hygienist's pitchfork.

I gripped the arms of the death chair while she continued to poke and prod and talk about her love of horses. I nodded, winced, grimaced, sighed with relief whenever she would rinse my mouth with water, getting rid of the taste of blood. I think that's their tactic. To poke and dig and search until you think you're going to die from choking on your own blood. Right when you think you can't handle it a second longer, they stick the vacuum in your mouth and tell you to "close tight." I welcome that thing in my mouth like it's a piece of strawberry cheesecake. It's a symbol of hope. That I might actually make it through the cleaning alive.

And then. Because your gums haven't been punished enough, they pull out the big guns. The floss. Floss's only redeeming quality is that it doesn't have any sharp ends. But used correctly, in can still be just as painful. Like a noose around your teeth. So now that your gums are bleeding and sore, they rub them with a string of minty wax.

I somehow managed to stay conscious through the pain. I'm tough, I know. I thought I was done, but the pitchfork made a reappearance. It scratched my discolored tooth like the way one might scratch a giant mosquito bite. She went to town on it while I anxiously awaited the verdict I knew was coming: your teeth are dead. 

Turns out, I just drink a lot of coffee. The stain is gone. My teeth are white again. And then I went to the front desk to pay, because they don't torture your mouth for free these days.

In other news, today is my one year anniversary at this job.

I think I'll celebrate with a cup of coffee. The dentist isn't looking so bad all of a sudden.


  1. I don't mind the dentist much since I've been blessed with good teeth genetics. But I didn't get my favorite hygienist last time and this Russian lady made my gums bleed like there was no tomorrow. Ow.

    I'll be at my job three years in April. How have I let myself go for this long? It's a miracle surely.

  2. This is one case where we are not twins. I love going to the dentist. :) Trust me. I've had my fair share of dentistry issues. My baby teeth wouldn't come out, so my permanent teeth started growing in slightly behind them. A had someone pull out a loose/nearly out tooth with her bare hands. I had a retainer in elementary school. I had a root canal at 10. Said retainer caused my crown to come out, so it had to be put on again. I had braces from 11-14. I had a few bottom braces on again in college.


    BUT... I love going to the dentist. I know, I know. Twisted. But I love having clean teeth. :)

    And... happy anniversary. I'm sure you're jumping for joy.

  3. YES! another person with genetically bad teeth! i use a special flouride toothpaste because, apparently, my saliva does not have the enzyme it needs to fight cavities. whatever. its stupid. but i like knowing that its not all my fault.

  4. Ugh- you have officially made me push back my appointment EVEN FURTHER, lol. I used to have nooo problems at all with the dentist, and then 4 years ago (yes. it's been that long. i'm disgusting, i know) I got my first cavitity and I am forever scarred for life. The filling sucked, but what was worse is that they cut the corner of my mouth while they were in there yanking stuff around. It wouldn't stop bleeding and it left a scar!!!

    I have issues.

  5. I share your hatred for the dentist as well as horrible teeth. However, I see mine 5 days a week. I am a receptionist in a dental office. I will be here for 2 years in February. Sometime I cannot sleep at night knowing I work for a sadist. However, I get free dental care so it may just even out in the end.

  6. I don't lik the dentist! Makes my gums bleed. It was even worse when I was pregnant.

  7. I am SO with you on being terrified of the dentist. I am honestly terrified of all doctors because I have a paralyzing fear of dying (but that's a story for another time). On a lighter note my best friend is in dental school, so I am trying to dodge all appointments until she graduates and I can actually trust the person who has their hands all up in my grill.

  8. True life, I cancelled the appointment I had yesterday because a. I was sick and b. it was too early in the morning. I did not know stress related gingivitis was a thing! So will all the xanax in the world prevent further dentist appointments? Let's hope.

    Justin is a tooth nazi/fairy. Since him, I have flossed (almost) every night with those handy dandy flossy tools and brushed (nearly) every night. But then I cancel my appointments so who knows if that is helping...

    Also, this was a post to beat all posts. Great storytelling my dear :)

  9. Pretty sure it'll be another 6 years (at least) before I even think about going to the dentist again, after reading this. Sounds like every dentist experience I've ever had, ever. I haaaaaate it.

    Happy one year anniversary!!!! Think of it as surviving a year's worth of torture...and they haven't killed you yet. BOOYA.

  10. I'm two weeks short of my one year anniversary at this job. It's a milestone I'm okay with not making.

    I CRINGED reading this post. Seriously. I thought I was going to have to abandon it. It just brought back so many memories from last week. One good thing I've noticed is that my teeth are whiter than my whitening ever made them. I guess that was kind of worth it.

    Glad to hear you don't have to get all your teeth pulled. That would be traumatic.

    I actually love going to the dentist... weird. I think it has something to do with my hildhood dentist being named Dr. Burger... his assistant told me her name was Mrs. Fry... after further thought I think she was joking.

    Happy One Year anni? Celebrate with some Chipotle?

  12. I should have known that since we have so many things in common, we would both also have weird mouth things going on. I also had an expander. Also, I had this super-rare condition where my mouth tried to make 6 of my baby teeth permanent fixtures in my mouth, even after the adult teeth grew in behind them.

    Oh yeah, the dentist and I are not on speaking terms. Mostly because I haven't had dental insurance for 5 years, and that shit is expensive.

    I feel like you deserve a medal for having braved hell for an entire year. God has carved out a very special place for you in heaven. That much is certain.


    I swear, you are me, just in another time zone.

    I drink a LOT of coffee too. And the occasional soda at work. I get a lecture every time I get my teeth cleaned. I like to go ahead and squeeze a lot of months between cleanings. I'm definitely due. And dreading it. I'm hoping to wait until next month, in the hopes that the Mayans were right, and the world ends in a couple weeks. Fingers crossed!

    Happy stupid anniversary. Hoping you won't be stuck there for a second!

  14. I'm no fan of the dentist but I prefer him to the doctor by a long shot. I'm blessed with good teeth now, but apparently I had horrible baby teeth and my adult teeth grew in crooked, so I had all sorts of teeth pulled and got braces when I was 8. That's all so long ago that I barely remember the torture, though. I did get my wisdom teeth pulled 4 years ago and if I knew how bad that would be before I did it, I probably never would have agreed to it!
    At least it's over for another 6 months. I think I'm due for an appointment about a month ago but I'm kind of ignoring that because I truly think our dentist is on a mission to steal all our money.... :P

  15. I hate the dentist so much. My dentist has giant sausage fingers and I have a little mouth. The combination is not good. When I asked for an appointment with a dentist that had smaller fingers, they looked at me like I was crazy. And the last time I went in for a cleaning, the hygienist was 7 months pregnant and my head was pretty much squished up on her belly the whole time. I hated every second of that. I don't even like to touch my friends pregnant bellies, much less a strangers.

  16. I used to love the dentist when I was a kid, but as I get older I really, really dread it. I just don't want someone that close to my face!

  17. I’m definitely very glad that the most major problem you had to deal with were a few stains and nothing worse. I totally understand your trepidation about going to the dentist though, considering what you had to go through when you were younger. That’s not an easy experience at all for anyone, no matter what age you are! Still, it’s a good thing that you were able to set those fears aside long enough to be able to go through with a procedure as simple as a cleaning. At least you only have to do that a maximum of twice a year!

    - Jamar Schaffer -


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