As I was getting ready to go, I started to think about a few of my early experiences with dentists. Some of the memories hold a clue, perhaps, to my current aversion to all things dental.
When I was in grade school, there was a program that ensured that all of the students would have dental check-ups on a regular basis. Each week, we were escorted in small groups to a local clinic, until we were pronounced “all done”.
“All done” meant that you had any necessary fillings completed and also a cleaning on the final visit. We even got to miss school time – yaaaay!
Well . . . we only said “yay” once. After the first visit, nobody was too keen on returning – but return we did – many times.
It wasn’t really the dentist’s fault; he seemed to be a very sweet man. In fact he looked almost heart-broken when he announced to me, in a hushed tone, that I had a cavity . . . and that it was . . . “deep”. (Yikes!)
When I was a kid, cavities were more prevalent. I’m dating myself here, but this was a time before there was fluoride in vitamins, or fluoride toothpastes, or tooth sealants. But most importantly – this was a time before Novocain was given for fillings!
Novocain was reserved for tooth extractions only. With a filling, you were on your own. It was either a little pain for a small filling or YEOOOOOOOWCH!!! Turned out I had a few “deep” fillings – one a week – had to keep going back – thought he’d never stop drilling!
After several weeks of visits, they gave us a pink card, which meant all work was complete. Let me tell you; there was nothing more exciting, as you stepped up into the dental chair, than to see out of the corner of your eye – a nurse filling out a pink card!!! It was “the sign”. You were going to be finished that day – oh joy, OH JOY! 🙂
We also had a “family” dentist. I saw him if something cropped up in between the annual school dental visits. This family dentist was also a very nice man, with just one tiny flaw – he lied!!! As he was about to drill, he’d always say:
“Now if this starts to hurt, just raise your hand, and I’ll stop right away!”
What a lovely, soothing thing to say to a kid that was a little bit petrified. It could really help you to relax.
The problem was you could be waving your hand as if you were conducting a symphony orchestra – and he never noticed . . . or STOPPED!
So I guess that was the beginning of it all. As I grew up there were more wild and wooly experiences with assorted dentists and periodontists. I’ll admit that in recent years, they do try to keep you comfortable during procedures. But somehow, I’d still rather be cleaning the bathroom bowl!
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