A Trip to the Dentist

Gentle Reader, today I went to the dentist – this dank-looking office off of Grand Boulevard in the part of town notorious for raids on “pill mill” operations that supply people like Linsday Lohan with illegal Roxycoxycodines and what have you. The reason I chose this particular dental practice was because they advertised “sedation dentistry”  and I thought this seemed like a pleasant way to spend an afternoon while tending to my oral health. Kill two birds with one stone. A little whistling while I work, if you will. I had been looking forward to the experience ever since making the appointment a week ago and could hardly wait to feel the sweet nectar of oblivion coursing through my veins.

When I arrived at the dentist, I took my time filling out all the required paperwork, patient yet excited at the prospect of being unconscious and anticipating the kind of messed-up happy dreams only narcotics can induce, when in walked the hygienist, a delightful little woman by the name of Peg. With her rust-colored bouffant and three inch purple talons, Peg was every inch the dental professional. I was immediately comforted at the thought of placing my mouth in her capable, acrylic-ornamented fingers. There are very few things that can go wrong when someone with claws like a bald eagle is welding sharp instruments near the delicate gum line.

The first thing Peg did was notify me that she wasn’t supposed to be working today, that today was supposed to be her day off but then Bethany – who should not have even graduated from dental hygiene school in the first place, according to Peg – called in because she had to take her son to the doctor for his ear infection. Peg then lowered her voice to a conspiratorial level and informed me that, “between you and me and this whosewhatsit”  (here she tapped her suction wand on the overhead light) – Peg suspected Bethany of being a little bit into the bottle, if you know what I mean and I think you do and Bethany probably doesn’t even have a son and even if she did what kind of child gets ear infections every other day? Ridiculous, as far as Peg was concerned.

Now by this point, I am salivating with expectation for sedation. It’s not that I didn’t care about Peg’s day off being ruined or the fact that she had to put up with the antics of Bethany, I just really, really wanted to be numbed to the core. I told all this to Peg, who whisked a bib around my neck and made a noise that I can only describe as being cruel: kind of a half-bark, half-chuckle sound that emanated from the depths of her nicotine-ridden throat and let me know with utter certainty that my dreams of sedation would not be forthcoming.

“We don’t sedate patients for a cleaning!” Peg exclaimed without the slightest attempt to keep the joy out of her voice. “Hey Rob! Rob!” she yelled to an unseen person behind the curtained partition used to separate the examination rooms, “This one wants a sedation for a cleaning! A cleaning!”

“Oh, for cryin’ out loud!” responded a male voice – presumably owned by Rob. “These people! I tell ya, Peg, these people! It gets worse every day. Been in this business too long when they come in wantin’ sedation for a cleaning, for cryin’ out loud.”  Peg and Rob continued in this vein while Peg began her assault on my mouth. Every so often, Peg would break from her conversation with Rob to bark an order – “Turn your head toward me” or “Quit bitin’ down on my suction tube.” After about 30 minutes of sheer physical and psychological torture, my mouth was swollen from pain, the blood from my gums filled my mouth with the metallic taste of agony and my lips were dry and cracked from being pried open for so long. Instead of feeling pleasantly comatose, I felt like I had gone several rounds with Chris Brown.

After what seemed like an eternity, Peg finally left me to my misery. I was rubbing my jaw in horror – wondering how I would ever masticate again, whether or not my speech had been impaired – when in walked the actual dentist. A pleasant enough looking Pakistani man in a white coat, I assumed immediately that he would be my salvation: he would apologize for Peg and Rob and quickly administer the sedatives that I had been so promised by his advertising. Instead, the dentist shoved his little mirror in my mouth and immediately begins laughing hysterically. “Oh!” he shouted jovially through his belly chuckles. “You have teeth like a whale. Whale teeth.” Pushed to the brink, I snapped my jaws shut, causing the dentist to jerk his hand out of harm’s way but not to cease his laughter.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I demand angrily.

“Your teeth have very large spaces between them,” the dentist explained in his clipped little accent.”In dental school I study on whale jaw, see? Whales have very large spaces between the teeth, just like you.”

“I really don’t appreciate-”

“Oh! But no cavities,” the dentist interrupted my complaint. “No cavities. Whale teeth, but no cavities.

“There is a cavity, sir,” I responded, narrowing my eyes as I peered into his sadistic grinning face. The dentist knitted his brow in curiosity. “There is a cavity in my soul,” I continued. “I came here expecting a nice relaxing visit to the dentist, and instead I’m leaving with a mouth full of blood and suicidal-levels of low self-esteem. Never has anyone been so literally stormed and besieged. If that isn’t a cavity, I don’t know what is. Seriously, you people have no idea how litigious I am. I could sue the pants off you. This whole practice could be mine in a matter of months, providing I find the right attorney.”

My threats obviously fell flat, because the dentist kept right on grinning.

“You know what?” he asked. “You have teeth like whale, but cheeks like chipmunk.” With this statement, the dentist reached forward and pinched the flesh on the side of my swollen face. I felt like I was back in grade school, where an obese childhood had led me to experience much of the same cruel treatment I was receiving now at the hands of this dental degenerate. Utterly defeated and near tears, I composed myself the best I could and made my way to the reception desk, where I then had the pleasure of paying for the entire degrading experience. Finally having left the dentist’s chamber of horrors and returned to the sanctuary of my car, I comforted myself with the notion that bleeding from the mouth was probably preferable to bleeding from any other orifice, but only slightly.

You can read more from Ashley Konrad on her blog.