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Life with teeth


I have a long history with dentists; it started, pre-flouride, with my baby teeth.

My first dentist drilled without novocaine. My fillings had fillings. So from about age four to twenty-two I went under the drill with white knuckles and a genuinely pathological resignation to pain.

As an adult, I sought dentists who used novocaine, and I blessed the drug. But then came dentist music: wailing saxophones, bleating vocalists. Or 50s with decibels. A whole new kind of pain.

Eventually I had a dentist who played classical music, quiet and subtle. For me, analgesic: calming, deep-breathing sounds. He retired, alas, and his younger associate took over — I like him despite his apparent aversion to eighteenth-century composers.

Last week he was taking an impression of my upper teeth. A messy procedure. He had shaped a tray — a goo-filled trough — just for me. I have geranium planters that are daintier than that tray was, but he was determined to fit it into my mouth. I could feel the goo coming out my ears, but still he worked it inward, upward.

At that moment, the 60s exploded on us. Drums! Guitars! Volcanic energy! And the smashing percussive intro led inexorably to that immortal question “Do you love me now that I can dance?”

I had a mouthful of construction equipment, but I couldn’t help myself: I started laughing. Would the goo settle in my lungs or hit the wall?

I conclude that schools of dentistry do not offer pertinent courses. The relationship between dentist music and patient disadvantage has not been studied. “The Trajectory of Goo as an Effect of Mid-Twentieth-Century Rock Music” is overdue as thesis.

I think the ADA should chew on that.

4 thoughts on “Life with teeth

  1. Your blog reminded me to call my dentist to see if he accepted my new insurance plan. He does, though he is not a network provider. I don’t care; it will be better than paying the entire cost myself. There is no way I would give him up. I have finally found a dentist who does not hurt, ever. That said, I have endured a painful memory of tooth-pulling. Namely, the time my mother pulled a molar that was not loose. I don’t remember the circumstance surrounding it, just the pain.

  2. I do remember your account of the time your mother pulled that tooth; as a matter of fact, I could never forget it!

    I did have to laugh when I read that my blog reminded you to call your dentist , and it is wonderful to have one so gentle. (Mine is much more gentle with his dentistry than with his music.)

  3. The true meaning of a captive audience with jaw locked. Trust me, it will be worth it in the end. My dentist likes to have TVs blaring with news shows. Maybe I should check to see if he’s subscribed to any of those calming spa music channels. Another great post!

  4. Thank you!

    Exactly right about the captive audience AND the locked jaw. (You know that writers do not deal well with locked jaws. At least the writers we know.) Given what’s on the news these days, I’m not sure I could handle that along with the dental work.

    “Spa” and “dentist” in the same paragraph is testimonial to your creativity!

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