Sometimes I wish I was a cow because they lose their teeth by the time they’re ten and they never have to go to the dentist.
I hate to admit this but I’m afraid of dentists. I’ve been opened up by surgeons from stem to stern several times and I can honestly say I was never afraid. You want to re-plumb all the arteries to my vital organs, no problem. Cut half my nose off, here let me sharpen your scalpel for you. But a trip to the dentist and my blood pressure hits 200/100 and the shaking in my knees sounds like a flamenco dancer’s castanets.
In my defense, I have good reason to be a dentophobiac. My childhood dentist, Painful Powers, was a mean old man who enjoyed torturing kids. If you didn’t have any cavities he’d cackle and give you candy as a reward to rot your teeth. I still have nightmares of him chasing me with a huge syringe in one hand and a HUGE drill in the other.
When Painful Powers croaked and went to you-know-where I went to a practice with three tooth terrorists, Doctors Drill, Phil and Bill. I had a bad molar that needed pulling but they immediately ran into complications. It seems they were running short on the income side of the ledger that morning and a simple tooth extraction didn’t cost enough. So they had to crack my tooth apart with a chisel and a ball pein hammer the doc waved right in front of my face before he hit the chisel with all his might. My wife said you could hear my scream above the din of Credence Clearwater Revival singing Proud Mary on the loud Muzac machine. (Ever notice they always play loud music in a dentist’s office? It’s so you can’t hear the screams.) After they removed my head from the ceiling tiles, which gives you some idea how high I jumped upon impact, the Doc asked, “Oh, could you feel that?”
For my most recent extraction I went to Dr. Torment, a specialist who has the nicest medical office I’ve ever seen. Once in the chair I asked him why he wanted to pull teeth for a living and the smart alec replied, “It’s better than working on the other end.” I learned why he really choose his specially when he explained that an extraction, bone graft, and implant would set me back THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS!
Once again, my wife said you could hear my screams in the waiting room. Silly girl, she thought I’d already had my tooth removed. She told me later she’d never seen so many people get up and leave a doctor’s office at the same time in her life. Later we counted up how many people had their teeth pulled that morning and calculated that the good dentist could have made the down payment on a new Bentley with just that morning’s work.
Dentistry has changed since my Grandpa’s day when they simply pulled all your teeth and sold you a set of dentures you could remove to scare the heck out of little children. Some greedy capitalist pig invented something called an “implant” which is nothing more that a 3/8 lag bolt that you could buy for 50 cents at the hardware store that’s screwed into your jaw. Once again, the extraction went haywire and when the doc was finished he had sweat on his brow and was shivering and shaking like a topless dancer in Alaska. He said, “Thanks for challenging me.”
I wanted to ask, “What’s that supposed to mean?” But I couldn’t get a word in edgewise because I had to open wide enough so they could get the D9 Caterpillar in my mouth to excavate room for my implant.
As I left they told me to only chew on one side of my mouth and so at supper I look like a cow trying to eat an artichoke. And when the doc regains the strength in his arm I get to do it all over again on the other side of my mouth.
And you wonder why I hate dentists?
Ironically, I learned from a magazine in the dentist’s office that very day that the inventor of the electric chair, one Alfred Southwick, was a dentist.
Why was I not surprised?