Misadventures in Dentistry, Part 1: Farewell Eyeteeth


There are few things I hate without adequate reason.

I hate high squealy noises (that kid in Walmart who has decided that he needs that super-intergallactic-robot-dizzy-bake-oven or he will die) because they make the insides of my ears burrow further toward my brain.

I hate spiders because they have more legs than any living thing has any business having, and that creepy front-of face fang business is a no-go.  Teeth belong IN the mouth, already!  Also, I lived in the country as a kid and woke up many times in my basement bedroom with a spider snuggled up inside my jammies.  My spider hatred is totally justified.

I hate bell peppers because I got a nasty case of food poisoning from deluxe pizza when I was a kid.  I’ll explain that one no further.

I hate dentists because of a bunch of horrid things have happened to me at dentists’ offices over the years.  Today, I’m going to start at the beginning.

I have great parents.  They have always taken care of my health, which of course involved my teeth, and when I was about nine, they decided that my mouth was zooming away from Isn’t-She-Cute-With-Her-Crooked-Smiles-Ville on the one-way highway to She’s-Gotta-Be-a-Surgeon-So-She-Can-Wear-a-Mask-At-Work-City.  And they scheduled me to see an orthodontist.

The verdict was that thanks to the miracle of modern orthodontics, my teeth could be fixed with time, money, and (as of yet, unbeknownst to me) a great deal of pain on my part.  Step one was to “make room” in my mouth so the magic of wires, brackets, and unbelievably tiny rubber bands could commence.

It turns out that “make room” is dentistian for yanking some unneeded teeth.  Lucky me, the bottom canine teeth were the ones that needed to vamoose.  If I had known ahead of time that these suckers had roots that ended somewhere around my kneecaps, I probably would have bought a one-way train ticket to Winnipeg, but since the facts were kept from me, I went along with the plan.

My dentist was a little old man who had looked after all the teeth in my family for at least twenty years.  That being said, his methods were rather old-school.

When Doctor S. had me in his chair, and escape was beyond me, he started with the old-school tactics.  I apologize for stating above that his techniques were “rather” old school.  The man’s approach was truly medieval.  There was novocaine, but it was the start of my  trauma rather than the remedy for it.

To start, the dentist thought that the best way to begin was to show me the (enormous) needle that he would be using to freeze my mouth.  That thing was long and curved, and shone cruelly in the light like Captain Hook’s namesake.

Pirate weaponry is never a good way to begin anything, except boarding an enemy vessel.  Dr. S. (touted in family legend as the most gentle dentist of all time) started the injections.  I’ll admit right up front that the actual needle poking was only a four on the ten point scale of worst things I’d been through until that point in my ten-year old life, until disaster struck.

For some reason, Dr. S. slipped with his giant pirate gaff, which plunged between my teeth and right through my gums.  I was then treated to the experience of a syringe full of novocaine squirting down my throat.  Novocaine, for those who have always wondered, tastes like evil with a hint of cherry.  Think week-old roadkill badger basted in the flavour of those red Halls cough drops.

Dr. S. then told me that I needed about ten minutes to let the anesthetic “set” and disappeared for what truly seemed like only seventeen seconds.  I had tears in my ears by this point.

Step two of operation “make room” involved pliers, another fact that would have resulted in a one-way ticket anywhere I could get to had I known.  If there is, for whatever reason, a dentist reading my blog, I apologize that I don’t know the real name of that particular instrument of torture, but they sure looked like pliers to a ten-year-old kid with dead cherry badger taste in her mouth and tears soaking her cheap paper dentist chair bib necklace.

Dr. S. grabbed his pliers and got up off his little dentist school.  Then he put his dentist foot in his brown dentist loafer next to my terrified head.  I swear that I’m not making this up.  Then, after asking me very nicely to open my mouth, he wiped off my tooth with some gauze and grabbed my tooth with the pliers.  Hindsight being 20/20, I should have bitten him with all I could muster during the gauze wiping part, tipped him on his dentist butt, and gotten out of that office as fast as my flip-flops could carry me.  With my luck, though, I would have gotten stopped by the building security guard, paper bibs being like the dead-giveaway striped “Jailhouse Rock” style uniforms that escaped convicts always try to shuck as soon as possible in old movies.

Dr. S. twisted his pliers, and then he pulled.  Then he twisted.  Then he pulled.  Then he got tired of the first two maneuvers and yanked, using the entire force he could create with his loafer-clad foot planted firmly next to my head.

My tooth made a horrible noise as it tore free of its moorings, like squeaking styrofoam when you pull something out of an IKEA box.  Suddenly, Dr. S. stumbled backwards and my mother gasped (she’d been in the room the whole time, but I’m trying to absolve her of blame in this fiasco).

It turns out that Dr. S. had pulled so hard on my pointy little tooth that it had suddenly come free.  Anxious to be out of the grip of the pliers, it flew free and traveled in what I can only imagine must have been a soaring arc of toothy freedom and joy down the office hallway, ending in a bloody bounce onto the low-pile carpet.

It lay there, the root triple the length of the part of the tooth I’d know for years, a good fifteen feet from my face, while Dr. S.’s assistant crawled around on the knees of her powder blue scrubs, trying to find it.  I bled in the chair, stunned and rather confused by all the action.

After the tooth was located, the same foot on headrest procedure was repeated on the second side, without the aerial tooth acrobatics.  I kept those pointy little teeth for many years, in a little yellow envelope, similar to the side mice would need if they had to send inter-office mail, as evidence of my trauma.

The best part of the whole cursed morning was leaving the office.  In the waiting room, a wee boy was waiting, dressed to the nines in a tuxedo and bow tie hair slicked to the side, for the all-important event of his first dental checkup.  The poor kid saw me, with my face swollen by the tears and bruised by the pliers, mouth packed tight with stained gauze and blood spots on my tee-shirt.

I looked like a traumatized vampire chipmunk from hell.  Tuxedo boy started shrieking like someone snapped a mousetrap on his pinky toe.  And so the legacy of dentist hating lived on.

I hate dentists, and if the things that have happened to me at the dentist happened to you, you’d feel the same.

copyright 2011: http://bluespeckledpup.com

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tori says:

    Having had many teeth pulled many times, the first time was by far the most traumatic. I know firsthand, as you do, how delicious Novocaine tastes. I don’t know the actual statistic, but the chances of a needle breaking in your mouth are not high at all, but I definitely had a needle break in my mouth!
    I feel your pain.

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