Can you open wider?


cc licensed flickr photo shared by heather

Visiting the dentist is one of the things I most hate.

It doesn’t matter who the dentist is, how fancy his or her office is, how many free toothbrushes and floss I get, I simply hate it.

I hate the dental office smell, the creepy posters of huge teeth with eyes and mouths, and the waiting room filled with other terror-striken patients that jump every time a name is called.

On this fine morning, my terror increases as the bespectacled little man who controls the tiny drill that causes unbearable pain informs me, “I’m afraid this wisdom tooth has to come out today.”

Wisdom tooth? Coming out today? I didn’t even know I had one of those, much less that it was having a coming out party!

“So…? Are you ready to have it pulled?”

Have what pulled? Oh my God. Oh my freakin’ God.

“While we’re young, Bella.”

Young? How young am I going to look with missing teeth?

Will I still be able to chew my food? Will my face cave in? Will my teeth move backward and leave me with a large gap between my front teeth? And more importantly, how much is it going to hurt?

Palms sweating, mouth dry, pupils dilated, I see him loom closer, needle in hand.

“You’ll just feel a pinch,” he says.

A little pinch like the kind my sister gave me when we got in a fight, little?

Or a big pinch like the one my mother gave me when I misbehaved?”

Silently, I nod my head.

“Open wide,” he instructs.

The last man that said that was the gynecologist, and that felt like a really big pinch.

“No need to tense up. Try to relax, ” he insists, while holding what looks like a set of pliers to my face.

“God, why do you hate me?”

“If you don’t open wide, I’m going to have to use the metal clamp.”

Oh no! Not the metal clamp. The last time he used it, I almost swallowed my tongue.

I shake my head no.

“Alrighty then. Lets get this party started.”

Okay, he didn’t really say that, but I realize I’m going to need some humor to stop myself from passing out.

In go cotton wads that look like caterpillars and make me gag; quickly followed by the “pliers.”

“I’ve got it,” he announces, as if he had just caught a fish.

And then the tugging begins.

To the left, to the right, and again to the left, the torture device moves in my mouth.

The groggy part of my brain starts to think we’re dancing the “Cupid Shuffle.”

“Clara, can you give me a hand here?” he calls out to his assistant.

I thought he said this tooth was dead.

Why isn’t it out already?

Panic starts to set in. I can’t swallow. There’s a taste of blood in my mouth.

The tugging continues.

His assistant joins the fun and presses my shoulders into the seat.

In spite of the anesthetic, I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience; witnessing the onslaught.

Panic increases and I begin to think that any moment, the dentist is going to climb on top of my chest to get more leverage.

And this isn’t a strange thought, given he appears to be having a “take no prisoners” day.

“It’s almost out.”

Suddenly, I start having flashbacks of when I was giving birth and realize that this pain is ten times worse.

“It’s coming!”

Finish it off already, for the love of Pete.

“Here it is!” he proudly exclaims as he shows me the tooth that until fifteen minutes ago, resided in my mouth.

I wipe the blood trickling from the corners of my mouth and realize I must look like one of the vampires from Twilight.

A tear makes its way down my cheek.

It’s been only a few minutes, and already it feels like a part of me is missing.

With a satisfied look on his face, the dentist says, “No complications. I was able to yank it out whole.”

(Like this is supposed to make me feel better.)

With drool making its way down my chin, I say, “Zee you in zis months.”

It appears the anesthesia has left me with a lisp.

“Unless I have to pull out the one from the opposite quadrant.”

Are you kidding me? I’d sooner light myself on fire.

As I weakly limp out of the office, I “key” every poster lining the hallway.

There, I feel better already.

How do you make it through your dental visits?

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43 thoughts on “Can you open wider?

  1. You poor thing, not a way to start the day. I have an unnatural fear of the dentist and when I have to go, I usually cancel and reschedule the appointment a couple of times before I work up the nerve to actually go. I feign Gout, maybe an in grown toenail, or some other obscure illness so I don’t have to go. Unfortunately, both the Office Manager and my dentist are wise to me now and laugh when I call. I was there last week, and as I left they offered me the sticker basket (you know the one the save for the little kids). The applauded me on my way out for being ‘big and brave’. What a loser I am. My kids are braver than me. A confession – I feel better now for sharing.
    Bella ~ You have wonderful way of building suspense in your writes. You build us up, and leave us a big smile at end.
    Brenda

    • Aw, Brenda, you’re always so complimentary! Thank you! I had to laugh at your anecdote of the “sticker basket.” I think I should have the same incentive! :) I wish I could cancel appointments like you do, but here, you get charged for all cancellations!

  2. Hello Bella –

    Super-super post and I love it. I really get in to your humor as well. Speaking about the lisp situation, isn’t it nice when the dentist asks you to rinse. He hands you a little shooter cup full of colorful mouth wash, you carefully guide it in to your mouth the best you can, and the majority of it dribbles down your chin. You can’t judge if it’s in there or not, lol. Thank you. :)

    • Charlie, I know exactly what you mean with the dribbling water or rinse! Gosh I hate anestethia! I’m just glad it’s over! Hopefully I won’t have to drool for a long time! :)

  3. NOOooooOOOO!!!!! I am SO sorry, Bella. I haven’t been to the dentist since 2002, and I’m going for the record. He sprayed my poor mouth with ice cold water and jacked my mouth open to the size of a subway tunnel. Tears rolled down my face… and this was only for Sealants, forcryinintherain…. Never again. I feel no need to revisit Dr. Terror from the holocaust camps again. I’d rather pet a shark. God bless my dead-beat dad and his good teeth, the only thing I inherited from that loser.

    I’d bring you any ice cream you want, if I could!!

    • Parker, it’s funny that you mention that because in spite of my good dental hygiene, I’m in the dentist at least three times a year. He mentioned to me that some people have genetic disposition to bad teeth and both my parents have so many teeth problems, you wouldn’t believe it! I’m glad you have good teeth. And trust me, that’s an excellent thing to have! :)

  4. Oh no!!! This is terrible :( And I just had to make a dentist appointment for early next week because one of my teeth is super sensitive! Oh no, now I am even more terrified! LOL But I’ll just keep reminding myself that you made it through it (even if somewhat begrudgingly) and that I can too! Hope you are feeling better!

  5. I read the first sentence and knew that I did not have to go any further. What? You think I’m a stickler for hearing about other people’s pain? (Oooh…there’s another meaning for OPP). That image was enough to remind me that I, too, am way overdue for a dental visit. I only hope that my dentist will be the tall, dark and handsome type when he says to open wide.

    • Rowena, if only I were so lucky to have a tall, dark, handsome dentist, but I’m afraid mine looks like something out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show! :)

  6. Ouch! You should have played up your bravery! When I found out my 4 wisdom teeth were coming out – I opted for day surgery . That you can tell the story with such humour is a testimony to your writing ability! Truly a hilarious day (in retrospect of course!).

    • Astra, trust me, there was very little bravery for me to play up! I was shaking in my boots! :) I’m glad I can now laugh about it!

  7. I am not laughing AT your pain, but with.

    I have had all of mine pulled. Three of them in one visit. The only consolation was the sweet sweet percoset after. :)

    • Amber, alas, I was not given any percocet here. European doctors and dentists seem to be a holistic approach clan. I was told to take “acetaminophen” (Tylenol) for the pain, if necessary. IF necessary, are you the kidding me? Argh! No drugs for me here! :)

  8. I was totally out when they took out my three wisdom teeth…the only funny part for me was the revealinbg comments I made with the laughing gas. I love that you limped out of the dentist’s office. That says just about everything! MMF

    • My sister always gets laughing gas and the dental hygienist has some funny tales about her “performances.” I have yet to try it! Although I don’t know if it’s wise! :)

  9. Next time (if there is one, although for your sake, I hope not) go for the laughing gas and the anesthesia. My daughter swears by nitrous.

    I was cowed by my dentist as a young child. He slapped me across the face when I showed fear and my mom backed him up. Since then, I go into a sort of “grin and bear it” trance when I see the dentist (not the same one, of course) and pretend I’m at Marine boot camp.

    • OMG, Kario, I would not want to go to a dentist like that! What in the world! I hear good things about the laughing gas…I will have to ask! :)

  10. I hope you don’t have to have the other wisdom tooth removed. I went to the dentist juts recently having avoided it successfully for a few years, and survived, mostly, but I have to have a filling removed and a crown put in. I feel your pain. Or I will, at the end of the month….

    • Rhi, I need a crown as well but thankfully it won’t be put in until mid September. May the force of the Jedi be with me…and you! :)

  11. I didn’t mean to laugh, really I didn’t, but this piece was uncomfortably funny, all the more because I can relate to nearly every single word. Youch!

    • Go ahead and laugh, Cathy! Nothing makes me happier than to know I’ve succeeded at making my readers to laugh a bit! :)

  12. When I just started working in NYC I was walking down the street after a dentist’s appointment and who did I run into but Sylvester Stallone. Now, he’s not my type, never was, but trust me he was much better looking in those days, and… well, he kind of hit on me. Some stupid line. When I tried to make an equally vapid comment back to him, offered with a small smile all I did was mumble something totally incoherent and dribble a thin strand of drool down my chin…. ;)

  13. That does it! I still have two upper wisdom teeth and I plan to hold to them as long as I can. How do I make it through my dentist visits? Besides on a wing and a prayer? With the helpful compassion of a top-rate dentist whose mission is to ensure I’m never in pain.

    • Nancy, if you’re able to find such a fine specimen of a dentist, please let us know! I’m sure we’ll book him/her solid until the end of time! :)

  14. I’m with you Bella, I HATE going to the dentist. I have had a wierd earache starting inside the back of my mouth the last couple of days, and if your post is a premonition that I have a wisdom tooth that needs extracting I will be SO mad!! When I was growing up in the ’60’s British Dentists were one step shy of executioner’s, in fact, during one of my first visits, alone, when I was four years old and having four fillings without any type of anaesthesia, because I began to cry the creep slapped me across the face! It’s gone downhill from there. It is so invasive. I’m not having any more cleanings as long as I live. Those dental assistants can all lose their jobs as far as I’m concerned. Does this answer your question Bella?

    • Elizabeth, indeed it does! :) I can understand why you feel this way! A slap across the face since to have been the norm at the time! How completely unacceptable! I’m sorry that happened to you!

  15. Oh, I remember having a wisdom tooth yanked. It was only about twenty years ago. What I remember most distinctly is the sound -like a nail being pulled out of a plank of wood.

    Alas, there is no good way to experience such removals!

    • Lynn, I couldn’t agree with you more! Just reading about your tooth being pulled and I’m shaking! OMG that sounds painful!

  16. I must have missed this post when I had my stomach virus. You poor girl! I’ve had my share of dental nightmares. Nothing, not even parking troubles, will draw more sympathy from me. Amazingly, as jarring as your descriptions were, you still managed to make me laugh. I hope you’re feeling better.

    • June, I’m glad you were finally able to read it! I’m so glad you like it! And don’t worry about laughing, it’s what I was going for ! :)

  17. Pingback: What do you mean, no candy or caramel chews? « One Sister's Rant

  18. LMAO!!!!
    You are hilarious! I am laughing so loud Mr. Eve thinks I’ve gone and lost it. This one beats my story big time! Thanks for mentioning it. I dropped by to read it and catch up on some more of your blogs…sadly I am stalking your blog, have it on my follow list…I think I did it right!

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