Friday, February 5, 2010

Dental Anguish

When I first moved to Florida, I had a dentist who was a consummate professional with two flaws: He had an irritable personality, and he wanted all of his patients to have perfect, unnaturally white teeth. He expected that his patients would gladly spend any amount of money to achieve this goal. It became tedious denying his grandiose plans for expensive crowns, braces and veneers, and then suffering through his demeaning lectures, so I eventually moved on to another dentist.

My next dentist was an ex-Air Force dentist, with a phony, annoyingly cheerful disposition. Once she got my mouth stuffed with instruments, she would tell me long, dull stories about her horses and her kids, in that order. If the procedure was brief, but the story was long, I’d have to sit there drooling on myself until she finished. When she leaned me back in the chair, I discovered that she had pictures of her horses taped on the ceiling, so that I could enjoy them and envy her.

I recently got fed up with the stupid horse stories and decided to find yet another dentist. Using the Web site of my insurance company, I found a few in my area, and examined the information provided. Some of them have degrees from universities in Pakistan or Costa Rica, so I crossed them off the list (not because they’re foreign, but because I don’t know which universities in those places are considered excellent schools).

Also, some of them are shown as bilingual, which always makes me suspicious that maybe they don’t speak English as well as I’d like.

Doctor Swaraminibintu: “Meester? You want Novocaine thees time? Or you want aspirin?”

Me: “No, Novocaine please.”

Doctor Swaraminibintu: “No Novocaine? OK but thees gonna hurt.”

Me: “NO! I want Novocaine!”

Doctor Swaraminibintu: “You say no Novocaine.”

Me: “I know I said no. No aspirin, not no Novocaine.”

Doctor Swaraminibintu: (long pause) “OK, but thees gonna hurt.”

Some of them have offices in inconvenient locations. Eventually, I settled on a conveniently located, English-speaking dentist with a degree from a good university.

On my first visit, the hygienist seated me in the dental chair, and made polite conversation while checking out my teeth. She seemed pleasant enough, but she had a kind of creepy, nervous laugh.

Eventually, it was time to clean my teeth, so she leaned me back in the chair, stuck in that suction gizmo, and started to work on my molars with that rotating rubber scrubber. As I lay there, helpless and gagging on the raspberry-flavored gritty polish, she said, “You know, I was reading Proverbs 31 this weekend? The part about the wife who must get up while it is still dark? And I thought that describes my life perfectly.”

Really? Bible lessons now? Is it possible to find a dentist (or a hygienist) who doesn’t take advantage of the captive patient in some manner? Shouldn’t that be listed on the Web site? “University of Kentucky. Fervent Christian. Owns horses. Irritable perfectionist.”


Holden said...

I feel your pain. (no pun intended) My most recent visit to the dentist was a bit of an emergency. My normal Dr. couldn't fit me in so the family got together and made calls to friends in the area and hooked me up with a guy. The waiting room was filled with hunting and religious paraphernalia...but it was an emergency.
He does a very brief consult and then without warning lays into me with the Novocaine needle...kinda took me off guard and I exclaimed "oh thit!" He stopped, looked at me very sternly and said, "I won't have that kind of language in here, you can get up and leave right now." I had to convince him I would behave...
Not going there for a follow up...

Anonymous said...

"Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the hopelessly mute, for they shall be called Dentists"...