June 5, 2012

Dealing with Dentistry

Oh man. Since when has the dentist become such a traumatic experience? It's not like I enjoyed it as a kid (I remember gagging when they tried to make me sit with my teeth in those fluoride foam trays and spitting pink stuff all over the place) but it wasn't a place that I dreaded beyond comprehension. My lukewarm feelings are no more. The dread is real.

Exhibit A: Gentle Dental.

A hellish, cream-walled prison of confusion, pop-up fees, receding gum lines, and Novocaine.  The first visit almost exactly one year ago should have been enough. I was sideswiped with a need for different x-rays even though I had recently had x-rays and would have to pay for these out of pocket. Already smarting with this indignity, I was forced to bite down on unpadded bite wings (they were out of the pads) which cut into my gums quite painfully, while staring at a ridiculous mural of a tropical white sand beach dotted with palm trees. This kind of crap (the mural, the missing pads) does not inspire confidence. The resulting struggle was epic and in an embarrassing turn of events I found myself glaring at this woman in her baggy scrubs and telling her she was hurting me. With exclamation points. Because she was. I realize this is somehow against the rules of modern dentistry. Going to the dentist sucks but you deal with it. You need take it like an adult, even if it feels like an advanced and creative form of torture. If you don't follow the rules you are treated like you're five and told what a great job you're doing as you sit there suffering. The whole thing is a complete humiliation.

So it was that I found myself too cheap to deal with the necessity of paying for new x-rays yet again and returning to same dentist office for my cleaning a year later. It was a mistake. An adult would perhaps acknowledge that this place was not the right place for me, learned from last year's mistake, and found a new place to go, x-ray cost be damned. But apparently the challenge of find a new dentist was too much for me. I just wanted to get it over with. So there was this: my dental hygienist with remnants of a heavy french accent who insisted on asking me questions about my life throughout the cleaning (why do they do this when their hands are in your mouth?), the exam which revealed two cavities (allegedly) and was conducted by a dentist not much older than me who called me sweetheart repeatedly and appeared to imagine himself a possible shoe-in for Vince Vaughn in Swingers. Desperate to avoid making another appointment, I signed on to get them taken care of then and there. The whole thing took on the air of a bad dream as I was shuffled from the cleaning room to the lobby and back again, was informed of the cost of the fillings after they deduced coverage of my weak dental insurance, and then the found myself in the midst of sudden dental chair and Novocaine-needle freakout which resulted in tears streaming silently from under the Ray Charles glasses they gave me, and the eventual administration of nitrous oxide. This made the dentist's schtick almost bearable (at one point he told the hygienist that he needed the area to be dry, desert dry, Gobi dry, Sahara dry, but thankfully I was able to ignore this as an indictment against against his dental qualifications, and remain sitting still and breathing through my nose.

I left with my Quasismodo face (you know how it feels) and vowed never to go back. For real. I'd like to think that I could hold it together in a different dental office, one that doesn't constantly inspire words like "chartalan", "highway robbery", and "malpractice" but we'll see. I'm not convinced that dentists aren't secret sadists, every one, but I am looking for recommendations. I need a new dentist.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I usually sweat through my clothes, but I've got the best dentist now... and he uses a magical calming instrument (free). I'll give you his name. Seriously magical.