Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Perfect Dentist

For some people, a trip to the dentist is like tripping over a poisonous snake sunning on the sidewalk - or looking in the rear view mirror and seeing a giant spider sitting on your shoulder.  In other words, going to the dentist doesn't top the list of fun things to do.  My friend Kelly is like that. 

Kelly knew she had an aversion to dentists, so she took the bull by the horns and started searching for a dentist who'd be right for her.  Persistence pays off and she eventually found the perfect guy.  She used him for several years without incident until one day, she stepped through his door into the Dental Twilight Zone.

The first thing she noticed was that they were expanding the office.  Turns out Dr. Perfect's son was going to UCLA Dental School and would be joining the practice.  "Father and son working together.  Isn't that nice?" she thought.  

Turns out there was a second father-and-son team in the practice now, too.  Dr. Perfect's elderly father was also a dentist and had also been added to the staff.  He suffered from senile dementia so he was not allowed to do the drilling but he was able to make molds for teeth whitening and impressions for crowns.  To round out the family affair, there was the developmentally disabled daughter who was acting as sort of a dental hostess in the waiting room.

Shortly after that cleaning, Kelly swallowed half of one of her crowns.  "When I called the dental office, they didn't believe me," she said.  "They said, 'Are you sure it wasn't just a filling?'"  She was sure. That is how she ended up in the chair with the elderly father walking toward her, holding a gigantic dental plate that was obviously way too big to fit inside her mouth.  Already a bit skittish, Kelly was getting more and more frightened as he advanced toward her.  He had a bit of a tremor and the thing was clattering as he walked which did not add to her sense of well-being. Finally she burst out in nervous laughter which startled the old man, causing him to drop the plate on the floor.  "Don't you think that plate is a little too big for my mouth?" she asked when she had recovered herself.  As fortune would have it, Dr. Perfect was alerted by the ruckus, came in to investigate and remedied the problem.  Although the crisis was averted, the fear lingered.

The next visit she was to have the crown seated.  Kelly got situated in the dental chair and realized that the developmentally disabled daughter had been promoted to assistant.  She was now in the room, helping by handing Dad the instruments.  "It's wonderful," thought Kelly, "that she gets to spend the day helping her father." 

The crown was set in place and then the dentist left the room, leaving Kelly alone with his daughter.  Immediately Kelly's comfort level plummeted but she controlled herself and when she was told to tap-tap-tap on a piece of special paper, she did. Tap-tap-tap.  Thank God!  The crown was perfect.  No adjustments were necessary. 

Apparently "the assistant" had never seen a crown that fit perfectly before because the next thing that happened was that she took the crown out of Kelly's mouth anyway and started fiddling with it, drilling and sanding and doing other dental stuff to it.  When she re-inserted the crown, it no longer fit.  Now when Kelly closed her mouth, her teeth didn't even touch.  The crown was a quarter of an inch higher than the rest of her teeth. 

The daughter was confused.  She had Kelly tap-tap-tap again.  The girl was mystified.  Tap-tap-tap.  Tap-tap-tap.  Every time Kelly tapped, there was the same result.  The crown was so high that you could see sunshine between the top and bottom sets of teeth.  Tap-tap-tap.  Tap-tap-tap.  Our patient was getting a fatigued jaw just tapping on the special paper.  Each time, the results were the same.  Something was clearly wrong. 

"Is the crown on backwards?" Kelly finally asked.  The girl was indignant.  "No!" she responded but she yanked the crown off anyway and found that a piece of dental debris had lodged itself on top of the original tooth, causing the problem.  When it was removed,the crown fit perfectly again.  Kelly heaved a sigh of relief and went on her way.

A couple of months later, Kelly went to have her routine cleaning. There was a new hygienist and she was very rough, poking and prodding with sharp instruments, making her gums bleed and generally causing Kelly's limited dental tolerance to vanish completely. She felt like the lady was using a jackhammer in there. By the time the ordeal was over, Kelly couldn't stand another minute in the chair and practically bolted out of the room. As she was leaving, she told the ladies at the front desk emphatically that she never wanted to have that hygienist again.

Back at home, she told her husband about her horrible dental experience. "What was the hygienist's name?" he asked. "Sally." she said. "That was the dentist's wife."


Shirley said...

Just had a cleaning yesterday with the roughest hygienist on the face of the earth. There was nothing passive about her aggression. I'm about ready to call it quits with the whole bunch.

Katie said...

I DID TOO!!!!! When you are pretending that you're captain hook on my gums, of course they bleed!!