The Many Hats of a Dentist, A Tooth-Chattering Tale (Not Really)

I don’t take care of my teeth as well as I should.

There. I said it.

Despite not always doing what I should, I remain cavity free—*KOW*—and have been told I have very good “dental genes”— whatever that means.

Why, then, do I dread going to the dentist?

DENTIST AS “THE SHYSTY MECHANIC”

From the time my teeth came in until I got married, I went to the same dentist every six months.

When my wisdom teeth arrived, Dr. Karfeld made the call to extract only the bottom two (since, during the braces incident of ’95, two of my premolars had to be removed, and I had the room up there).

The first time I went for a checkup in Georgia, the new guy was all over me about pulling them. There wasn’t anything wrong with them, he’d said, but I needed to have them pulled as soon as possible.

Yes, that is Steve Martin. (LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS)

Um. Why?

My dentist of 20-some years didn’t see a need for it—this new hygienist had even complimented me on my tooth-cleanliness—so, why?

Because going to the dentist is like going to a mechanic or handing over your computer to some technician.  You need this person to do something you can’t do.  He (or she, I know, I know . . .) has the means to do the job, and you don’t, so you’re pretty much stuck doing what he says because he’s the expert.

When I didn’t go back to Captain Extractor, D.D.S., I got a letter from the office saying they were “concerned about my teeth.”  Really?

DENTIST AS A JUDGING MOTHER

So, I went back to my old dentist when I visited Cleveland.

My normal hygienist had the day off, so some new girl lectured me on how I needed to be flossing.

Yes, yes—eeeevery night. I know.  <eye-roll>  Does anyone, other than my friend Rockie, really do that?  Don’t try to act like you’re my mother and you caught me smoking in my room—we’re talking about flossing.  Even you had to admit my teeth were pret-ty clean for belonging to such a flossless heathen.  Still zero cavities, bee-otch.

I kept mum about my wisdom teeth when Dr. Karfeld came to evaluate my mouth—and he didn’t mention them until I told him about the other dentist.

His response?

“You could pull them, but as long as you keep them clean—which you’re doing—it’s not really necessary.”

(Karfeld = not a shyster)

DENTIST AS A PSYCHOLOGIST

So . . . I put off going to the dentist as long as my conscience would allow, now that we moved states again.  I walked into my new, Virginia dentist with trepidation.  Would this guy want to slice up my gums like Dr. Drills-a-lot?  Would the hygienist detect that I had forgotten to brush before bed once last week?

Determined to “beat” the dental system, I flossed three times prior to my visit, changed the tip on my battery-powered toothbrush, rinsed with mouthwash nightly and vowed not to utter a peep about my wisdom teeth . . .

. . . and as soon as I put head to dentistry chair, I spewed my entire tooth history for some reason.  The hygienist hadn’t even said the dreaded “F” word, but it was like I had entered a psychologist’s office.  Maybe they had me rinse with truth serum instead of water?

THE VERDICT

Dentist #3 is all for me keeping my remaining wisdom teeth, as long as they keep looking as good as they do now.  So YAY!

Still no cavities.  Double YAY!

So I guess I needn’t fear the dentist anymore.

Oh, and this new guy’s son is a writer, so I might even gain a writing pal out of the deal.  Hooray for Harrisonburg!

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5 thoughts on “The Many Hats of a Dentist, A Tooth-Chattering Tale (Not Really)

  1. HA! I can totally relate. I went to the same dentist for years and had a run in or two in my quest to find a new one. I also get busted every time for not flossing—but I wear the fact that I’ve never had a cavity like a badge of honor as I thumb my nose at flossing! But,I fear my luck will run out some day!

    • Me too. It’s like Catholic guilt for your teeth – but that fear of my first cavity is what keeps me doing *some* of the right things.

      . . . which isn’t to say my teeth aren’t clean, BTW. My new hygienist said, and I quote, “You have some clean teeth, girl!”

      • I totally get that analogy! I have one more month to see if I can remain smug and cavity free! EEK. I might floss a few times for good karma!

  2. For the record, you have another friend who flosses every night: me. I’m pretty sure it is the only new years resolution I have ever kept. I guess it’s a good thing because I am not blessed with good “dental genes”

    See? I told you I read your blog 🙂

    • Erica – LOL.

      Yeah, I don’t know what they meant by “dental genes” either, but I’ll take ’em if I’ve got ’em!

      Thanks for the comment, and congrats on all the flossing – and making me feel more guilty about my poor flossing habits! 😉

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