Visiting the dentist definitely falls within The Parent Games parameters.
We parents are quick to reassure kids that the dentist is simply a doctor who helps you have a healthy mouth. Going for a check-up is a breeze, and afterward you get a prize from the prize box. Who doesn’t want a prize, right?
I hadn’t realized how much the profession had climbed on board the cuckoo train until the kids began seeing a pediatric dentist. (I should preface this with saying these people are all professionals who, I’m sure, take their jobs seriously.) There are TVs on the walls with nintendo units the kids can play, bubbly hygienists offer “fun!” neon sunglasses to shield eyes from bright lights, a ridiculous range of cleaning pastes (just a few: bubblegum, grape, watermelon, cherry, and chocolate mint), and some actually refer to the saliva ejector (yes, that’s its actual name) as “Mr. Suction.” I can’t even.
I’m the first to admit that I’ve played my part in this spirited enthusiasm. The kids have to get checked out periodically, we don’t want their teeth rotting from cavities, and who wants to face a battle every time there’s a dentist appointment? Not me. So the dentist became a really great guy who’s fun to visit. Yay, dentist!
(You can picture the pom-poms, right?)
That would be my super-happy, we-LOVE-the-dentist persona for the kids.
If it’s just us grown-ups, though, you’re more likely to get my deep down wholehearted opinion: I hate the dentist.
Not as an individual, mind you. My dentist is actually an awesome guy that BrightSide and I have hung out with on occasion. I suppose I’m talking about the profession itself. Dentistry and office visits and all procedures pertaining to teeth…”hate” really isn’t a strong enough word for the feelings churning in my soul when it comes to procedures involving my (not so) pearly whites.
I just have a lot of experience with bad things happening, dentally-speaking. I’ve accepted that if something can go wrong, it will happen to me.
I know, this sounds like a horribly pessimistic attitude, but it is solidly based on my history of dental experiences. Ridiculous number of cavities? Yep. Root canals? Sure. Tooth implant? Sadly, yes. Gum transplant? Uh-huh. Jaw surgery along with braces? Good times.
This is a list of dental whammies, but even my reality of what’s supposed to be an “easy” visit to the dentist is significantly worse than, say, BrightSide’s.
He describes his time at the dentist as almost relaxing. BS hardly ever gets cavities, but when he does he says the filling process goes smoothly. He barely feels the novocaine shots and claims he’s almost fallen asleep in the chair during some procedures.
What?! Falling asleep? Inconceivable.
My problems begin before I even sit down in the chair. Despite blog evidence to the contrary, I have an unusually small mouth (ironic, right?) along with a TMJ problem that makes opening wide nearly impossible and pretty painful. So even a cleaning requires my complete attention and a ridiculous amount of effort to open wide enough and keep my mouth in that position.
Let me tell you, there is nothing more fun than lying back in that chair and hearing, “Open wide…a little wider now….can you open just a bit wider?” And if my mouth weren’t full of whatever torture devices they’re using I’d tell her no, I CAN’T open wider, it’s already killing me to open my mouth this far. I’m doing my part; you do yours!
And then the cleaning itself…ugh. The screeching tartar scraper that jabs me in the gums every single time. Flecks flying everywhere when they’re polishing. And someone else flossing my teeth? I loathe this feeling. The whole cleaning experience can basically be summed up with I hate, hate, hate each and every moment in that chair.
Here’s some of that new math for you: me + dentist = bad. Just…bad.