Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Life in the Dentist Office

I went to the dentist this week. I have my own room there. In fact, I paid for the move to his newer facilities last year.  He’s talking about putting up a plaque in honor of my American Express card.
I inherited a lot of positive traits from my parents. I have a great sense of humor, enough common sense to get in out of the rain most of the time, and a good work ethic. The thing I didn’t inherit is good teeth.
We didn’t have a dentist in Dora when I was a kid. The nearest dentist was in a town several miles away.
I had a jaw tooth that started going south on me which made my jaw swell up as if I had a golf ball in my mouth. My head listed a little to starboard for several days before my mom loaded me up and hauled me to the dentist.
He had an aquarium in his office, which I guess was supposed to keep kids calm, but I distinctly remember it didn’t work for me. Especially since the office was kind of small and you could hear his drill screaming like a tiny Weedeater.
The receptionist told me I was next and I can tell you I was not excited about seeing the tooth doc, especially after hearing the guttural moans, groans and wails coming from the back room.
I thought to myself that some kid was being tortured to death back there.  When the guy came out, he was as old as my dad and he looked as if he’d been in a fight with a lumberjack, and lost.
I remember the dentist had one of those reflector gadgets on his forehead to shine light into the mouths of his patients.
It made him look like a giant Cyclops.
As he approached, he had a syringe with a needle that was as big as a kindergarten pencil.
If someone had invented glasses in those days that behaved like the newer car mirrors – “Objects may appear smaller than they actually are,” they could have made a fortune! Anything that could have made those needles and other implements of torture appear smaller, would have been a big hit!
I survived that first visit but I had clinched my hands so tightly that my knuckles were white as chalk for a week.
I managed to dodge the dentist until I was drafted into the Army.  Uncle Sam was high on dental hygiene so I had to visit the dentist an average of three times a week just trying to salvage a few molars.
I was like one of those test dummies for dentists. The Army guys threw me a going away party when I transferred from Fort Monmouth to Panama.
Once I got home, I kept up the routine. Through the years, I replaced most of the teeth in my mouth and paid my dentist on the installment plan. I could have bought a beach house for what I invested in my mouth. Instead, I bought him a beach house.
I learned to take better care of my teeth, but one of the old bridges cracked during Christmas, which set off a flurry of visits to the dentist.
The equipment has improved dramatically through the years, and I must say, when they gave me laughing gas to relax, I wouldn’t have cared if they cut ALL my teeth out with a butter knife. But I have no plans to eat corn nuts any time soon.

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