I had been dreading this for days. Weeks really. OK, months.
As I was getting ready to leave the house, the kids asked where I was going.
“To the dentist,” I replied, with a sound of trepidation in my voice.
“You’re so lucky!”
“Can I go?!”
When I was a kid, we all had a common feeling about the dentist. Fear. Dread. That’s how life was supposed to be. No one WANTED to go to the dentist.
But these days, if one child doesn’t have an appointment with the others, she cries. A trip to the dentist means watching the latest Disney movie in the waiting room. Playing video games during the appointment. Choosing a new toy out of the treasure box. Not to mention getting a sugar-free sucker and a new toothbrush. Going to the dentist is fun!
Oh, if only I felt the same way.
Two days before I gave birth to my daughter, a filling fell out of my tooth. I called the dentist immediately, but he said he couldn’t give me a filling so close to my due date. I guess he didn’t want to deliver a baby if I went into shock. Dentists are so wimpy these days.
I knew the lost filling was only a sign of all the havoc that had been wreaked inside my mouth during the past nine months. Pregnancy has a way of sucking the life out of me. And causing my teeth to crumble. Literally.
I was so afraid of the dentist that I procrastinated for five months to get the filling replaced. I mean, come on. Isn’t that why God gave me TWO sides of my mouth?
What I fear most isn’t the drilling tool. Or that awful smell. Or the thing that sucks all the liquid out of my mouth.
It’s the lecture.
“Have you been flossing?”
“Yes! I swear! I swear I have!”
“Every day? Twice a day? After every meal?”
“Cross my heart, I have!”
Then, she gives me that sly look of, “then why are your gums so red as if you just flossed the heck out of them to try to fool me. I’ve seen your kind before.”
I was bracing myself for the worst as the assistant showed me the dental chair and began her exam.
“I LOVE your purse,” she said.
“What?!?” I thought. I waited for the lecture.
She chatted about my purse for a while, and then gave me the good news that I probably wouldn’t need a root canal to repair the long-lost filling. I started to relax and watched The Today Show for the first time in about five years.
Another assistant came by and again, started going on about the purse. Once we got our treatment plan in place (yes… there were a FEW cavities), the billing lady came by.
“I LOVE your necklace!”
“Oh, thanks,” I said, as I flipped it right side up so she could see the front.
Finally, in came the dentist. I hadn’t seen him in, oh, a couple of years, and he seemed a little older now than the college graduate I remembered. His teeth were perfect. I stared at the white squares that formed one straight line across his mouth. No spaces in between. Nothing crooked. I waited for a flash of light to hit them to see if they would actually sparkle.
For the next hour, he asked me to hold my numb mouth wide open as he drilled, filled and called out secret codes to the assistant when he needed a new tool. He stopped periodically to ask me how I was doing. Was I uncomfortable in any way?
I gave him the thumbs up since my mouth was wide open and too numb to speak.
He’s lucky I couldn’t talk. I entertained myself with my imaginary response: “Look, buddy. I have four children. FOUR times in my life a human being has lived inside of me pushing vital organs out of the way and causing my body to be stretched to its limit. I have been cut open and sewed shut FOUR times to remove these children from my body. Over the last five months, I haven’t slept more than a few hours in a row. I have endured a constant tooth ache. I have been sitting in this chair for two hours and not ONE person has asked me to change a poopy diaper, get them a glass of milk or fold a basket of laundry. So, your little drill is like a massage to me. If you could find a few more teeth to fill, I would thank you.”
Finally, we were done and I made my way to the front desk to make my downpayment on the dentist’s children’s college tuition.
As I was standing there, a hygienist zoomed by me and called out, “That is the cutest sweater EVER!”
OK. Now I get it.
I get to watch TV all morning. Sit quietly in a chair. And they send various people into my room to compliment me on my outfit. Plus, I got a brand new toothbrush and a little tube of toothpaste. This is the life.
How soon can I go back?