The dentist down the street

23 04 2010

I’ve always wondered: if a person can refer to a doctor’s bedside manner, does it not thus stand to reason that you can refer to a dentist’s chair-side manner? I know it sounds silly, but these are the kinds of things that are constantly floating about in what constitutes for my mind (whether sane or not is still to be determined).

I’ve had reason to be thinking about dentists. Last year, my dentist (who is conveniently situated 2 houses away from my parental home) had to do a root canal on one of my teeth. He had to do it in two sessions, which means 90 min + 90 min = 180 min (3 h) of having to keep my mouth open at its widest. Nice jaw exercise, I can tell you. In any case, this beloved root canal-ed tooth of mine decided to go AWOL, at least partially, and a part of the tooth broke off while I was eating a rusk. I suppose it goes without saying that I had to check in with my dentist to have it fixed, so that’s how I spent a part of my morning yesterday.

Now, I’ve been going to the same dentist since I was yeah-high (quite young). They say familiarity breeds contempt, yet luckily I do not see my dentist often enough to feel that way… although I would wager that, if I felt differently about dentist appointments, I might feel differently. Familiarity can be quite a nice thing. You run through the usual routine: chatting to the woman at the reception desk about how your mother’s doing, telling her what you’ve been busy with since finishing university (at least temporarily), surrendering your hand to inspection after she notices your engagement ring… Then of course there’s the ‘Operating Room’ itself, where the dentist’s chair stands ready to receive you. He has two brightly coloured pictures on the roof right above the chair, covered with tons of birds, which I have a tendency to try to count as I lie there. The clock against the wall is also positioned j-u-u-u-s-t right, so as it is noticeable from my vantage point.

All these familiar things, what with the radio tuned to the same station, and pictures of the dentist’s daughter still up against a kind of white board, is not what caught my attention yesterday. Goodness, no. Yesterday, I seemed to have an epiphany, as I looked up into the dentist’s face:

My dentist looks like Stephen King.

Well, I don’t mean that he looks exactly like Stephen King, otherwise I am sure that I would have made the correlation sooner. No, I think it was just the angle at which I saw him, looking up into a face that is illuminated slightly by the light above the chair, the mouth covered with a mask, and his eyes behind his spectacles. The feeling was uncanny, and I immediately started wondering whether I could blog about the incident or not. When I got out of the chair and spoke to him afterwards, as is the custom, he looked back to normal again… mostly, at least…

If it were a scene from a Stephen King novel, I am sure that I would not have walked out of his office alive… and if I did, I might be missing a tooth or two… or possibly even a limb… Reminds me of those horror movies you get, and stories that frightens kiddies, where a dentist is seen to be a bad man who’ll hurt you while you’re strapped into that big chair, unable to escape, the drilling hovering oh-so-close to your vulnerable pink mouth, your gums watering yet your mouth and tongue feeling dry as you wait for impending doom…

I have another appointment next week Thursday. And even though I have never, ever dreaded a dentist appointment, now I am looking forward to it. I just might find the inspiration for a short story (no dental chairs or equipment included) while under the ‘influence’ of my momentary Stephen King. It’s all about mindset, after all, isn’t it?

Perhaps I should mention my ‘discovery’ to a few people who are afraid of dentists. Dentist + Stephen King = nightmares to colour your wildest dreamscapes. Or I could, actually, write a short story about a trip to the dentist, as long as I can find a new angle on it. “The dentist down the street” has a good ring to it… and so does the sound of his drill as it comes closer…

"How wide did you say I should open?"




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