Dentists. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always tried my damnedest to avoid them. But alas, I have not been able to these past few years. Luckily, my husband and I found a great dentist years ago, Dr. Barry Faguy, who was recommended to us by my sister-in-law. So the two of us bit the bullet and went to see him, and wouldn’t you know, what a nice guy. What a great dentist! And, his staff is superb. They really looked after us both with compassion and patience. And believe me, you have to have patience with someone like me. Sitting in a dentist chair brings back memories of Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman. Have you ever seen it? If you haven’t, don’t. You’ll never want to go to the dentist again!
Apart from horror scenes from a movie, my other reason for ‘dentist anxiety’ is, as a kid I had a dentist who I swear would smoke in the room while he was checking your teeth out. His hands smelled like cigarettes. No such thing as hygiene in those days. He didn’t wear gloves either! It was just the worst place on earth. Maybe he was the dentist from Marathon Man? If I hadn’t known better I might have thought his so-called office was a hidden torture chamber set up by spies. I mean, he was that creepy! So a creepy, smelly dentist from my childhood and a horrific scene from a movie really put a bad taste in my mouth for dentists (excuse the pun.)
Afraid is not the word. A panic attack in full swing, shaking, nervous, bordering on passing out is how I get in the dentist chair. As I said though, all the staff at our dentist office know me pretty well now and try to make the experience as pleasant as possible. If it can, indeed, be pleasant. Just the sound of the drill makes my heart skip a beat, and not in a lovey-dovey kind of way. I swear I’ve seen the face of God looking down on me in that chair, with my mouth wide open, drooling saliva all over the place. What does God think of me sitting there, holding onto my shorts like it’s the end of the world? But it isn’t, it’s just that your mind kind of gets lost in the scraping and pulling and pushing and spraying. My eyes are always closed because I don’t want to see what’s happening. Lord no, that would make it worse. Bright lights and sterile pointy things that could slice your throat? No, it’s best not to know what’s coming! So I try to think of other things while in the chair, to visualize a peaceful scene, like me on a beach walking hand in hand with my husband. You know, stuff like that. But it doesn’t always work. Sometimes the face of God appears out of nowhere, like an omen, and then I feel it: the pinch of a nerve at the root of the tooth the dentist is working on. My hands grip the arms of the chair and I white-knuckle it until that pain goes away. I can almost see God laughing at my dramatic response, no doubt telling all the angels what a wussy I am, and don’t I see what’s going on the world? Third world problems, He thinks to himself.
I’m getting a crown right now, and no, not the royal kind, the expensive kind. And while my dentist was drilling my fake tooth, standing beside me with drill and tooth in hand, I asked him quite sincerely, “Is there any way I could just take all my teeth out so you could work on them like that?” “Ohhh,” he laughed, “in a perfect world Martha!” Damn, I said to myself. So I’ll be selling my firstborn in order to pay for my crown, and I don’t even get to show it off unless I walk around pointing it out to everyone. I don’t think, in general, people would go for that. Mouths are meant to be kept closed, or at least partially closed, at all times. I guess my new crown will not be something I can flaunt.
I always thought I had a good set of teeth. I mean, they’re pretty straight. But lately I’ve found I have teeth like my mom, in that some of them kind of overlap others. It must be a genetic thing. I, too, am like my mother in the sense that she never went to the dentist unless it was an emergency. My father would go often. He was either brave or crazy, not sure which, but he would never get his mouth frozen. He would have work done without anesthetic! My father and I differ drastically on this point, even though those needles make my heart pound! I wonder if he enjoyed Marathon Man? He may have. So I suppose I’ve inherited my lack of desire to go to the dentist from my Mom. I never saw her go! Even though she made us all go to ‘cigarette dentist’. I guess it was like the threat of torture to us kids – you better behave or I’ll send you to the dentist! Sounds funny now when I think of it, but maybe there’s just a little bit of truth to that?
Anyway, I can’t complain too much, I’ve been going to the same dental clinic for many years. They know me, my husband and our children. They’re like family to us, and even though Dr. Faguy retired a few years ago, his replacement, Dr. Taouk, is just as wonderful. Both men make you feel as comfortable as possible while in their chair. And the staff who work there, Madeleine, Sue, Angie, Johanne and Shani, are all so good to us. If only we could just take our teeth out and leave them with the receptionist and go back a couple hours later and pick them up. Wow, that would be awesome. Unfortunately that won’t be happening anytime soon!
So I’m just grateful things have gotten better for us as far as dentists go. If I’m going to have massive panic attacks, I’m glad it’ll be with these people and not Dr. Cigarette! Or that dentist from Marathon Man. Phew!
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