Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I am going to the dentist today. I have always had very nice dentists, but I still hated to go see them. Today I am having my first appointment with a new dentist. Well, she isn’t new, but she is different than the one I had been going to for the past 10 years.

The reason I am changing is that our senior advantage plan has added dental insurance as a benefit. Our former dentist was in Loma Linda, near where we lived for the first five years of our retirement but about twenty miles away from where we have been living since then. It was comfy to think of staying with the same dentist, but with the new plan it made sense financially to change to someone who was a provider (the old dentist wasn’t) and who would be much nearer to where we live now. I met this new dentist, a “she” in Riverside, at an introductory appointment last week, and I start my dental work today.

I like to think of myself as fairly laid back and accepting of what has to be done, but I’ll confess that I simply hate going to see the dentist, any dentist, even if he/she is someone that I like personally. There is nothing about going to a dentist that is pleasant. What they do usually falls in one or more of these categories: deliver bad news, cause discomfort or pain, and most especially lighten a wallet. I know, it is not the dentist’s fault that I need a root canal; actually it’s not mine either. Teeth just don’t last as long as they should. Also, although it probably isn’t a fair comparison, with the co-pay system my senior insurance plan has, I could see 50 specialist MDs for the price of what I will pay for my root canal. To be honest with you, I hate the idea of investing $500 in a single tooth, especially when I am getting of an age that I just might not get my money’s worth out of it. If I didn’t have to chew food, I might simply have this tooth pulled. However, drinking meals for the rest of my life is not something I want to seriously consider.

I asked my last dentist if it was true that dentists had the highest suicide rate of all professionals. He said he couldn’t prove or disprove it, but he’d known a lot of dentists in his life and he’d never known one to take his or her own life. He said he thought some studies had been done but there really was no agreement on whether or not the data was interpreted correctly. He did say that dentists are in a fairly solitary profession; that is, there may be an office full of young office help, most of whom are female and, he says, hoping to find a dentist husband, but there are not usually professional peers to provide a more collegial atmosphere. He added that dentists know people hate to come see them, which is a somewhat depressing in and of itself. Dentists also know they are, in the long run, making people feel and look better. Now from a patient’s standpoint that is true, but most of us still don’t like to go to the dentist!

The worst dental trip I ever had really had nothing to do with my teeth. I was sitting in the chair having a cleaning when the receptionist came in and asked if I was the owner of the blue Oldsmobile in front of the office. When I said I was, she indicated that a neighbor had just come in to report two young teenaged boys had broken the passenger side window and run off with a tote bag I had left in the front seat. She said they disappeared down the alley. I burst into laughter in spite of myself, because all that was in that bag was a used washcloth, a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste that I had brought to work with me that day to brush my teeth before my dental appointment. In spite of that broken window, I just had to laugh wondering what those little twerps thought when they found my accoutrements!

So off I go this morning, ready for the needles and the prying and the grinding. You know the old saying, “No pain, no gain.” Well I guess this is just going to be one of those times when I have to bite the bullet and do what has to be done.

However, I don’t have to like it!


Dee said...

I hope all goes well...just the word dentist provokes fear...I have never had a painful experience and I still become anxious. I bet even a dentist hates going to a dentist.:) I bet those boys who stole your tote will forever have a vision of your tooth brush and wash cloth. :)

marciamayo said...

I loved your story about the boys stealing your toothbrush. If that's your worst dentist story, then you've got good teeth.