RSS Feed

You’re Good to Go

November 17, 2013 by Diane

dentist chair

When I sit in the dentist’s chair, that Naugahyde faux recliner that slowly motors backwards until my head is lower than my feet, when I grip the armrests to hold on so I don’t slide into the dentist’s lap, the last thing I want is to realize that the man behind the mask is more anxious than I am.

I don’t want him to peer into my mouth, pause, and say…Uh-oh.

Or…Oh my.

Or…Why are your teeth

I don’t want him to start prodding my gums with his shiny clawed implements while muttering…Why is this happening?

My instinct at such times is to hoist myself from the chair and make a quick exit past the potted fichus, snatching a couple of free toothbrushes from the basket on the counter on the way out the door.

But instead I cling to the armrests, under that bright light, sweating.

I try to smile encouragingly, but my lips stick to my teeth.

I shrink as he leans in, sweating behind those giant plastic goggles. And just what are those goggles protecting him from? I don’t want to know.

This is where visualization comes in handy. I close my eyes. I visualize myself running down the beach in slow motion, twirling in circles with arms outstretched to the heavens, drinking in the sunlight like gentle rain. I try to transport myself to a place other than the upside-down chair and pray that when I come back, when the dentist is done with his prodding and worrying and his running dialogue about the tooth that has twisted ninety degrees—or whatever other paranormal phenomenon he’s discovered in my mouth—I pray that he’ll motor me upright and lower his mask, and with that relieved look on his face, the look that hostages get when they’re released, he’ll say…you’re good to go!

Good to go.

Does any dentist say that, ever?

It’s not that I’m afraid of dentists.

I’m afraid of what they’ll find.

I’m afraid of being imprisoned upside-down in that motorized chair and bleeding profusely. Not that it’s ever happened. But that’s the irrational fear I harbor.

I don’t even mind the needle. I squeeze my eyes shut and focus on my toes.

I just don’t like the murmuring that goes on behind the dentist’s mask. All that murmuring! What’s he saying? Is something wrong?

Diane, we need to

Always “we.” As if I have any part in the situation other than holding my mouth in an unnatural position for forty-five minutes, resisting the urge to chomp through his meaty fingers.

We need to saw through this area here, and drill down to the jaw bone and extract some

Okay, I’ve never heard that phrase. But I fear it.

Like most people on the planet, I don’t enjoy going to the dentist.

Well…except for the free toothbrush. I take my time choosing. The green? The blue? The pink? The yellow? And then there are all those miniature tubes of toothpaste. Should I take the one for sensitive teeth? The one that whitens? The gel? The cream? And what about the miniature bottles of mouth wash? Should I take the one that promises minty breath for twenty-four hours, or the one that removes plaque?

I’ve learned that if I hover over the basket of freebies long enough the dentist will give them all to me. As much as I can carry. So I stuff my purse, my pockets, and take two fistfuls and he needs to open the door for me, follow me to my car. Then there’s the matter of the key. The key is at the bottom of my purse. He rummages around in my purse to unearth it and…well, here’s the best part about going to the dentist. He pulls out a tampon. Maybe accidentally sets off the pepper spray in his face.

Okay, none of that actually happens.

But I dream about it, imprisoned in that chair under the bright light, my jaw permanently locked in an open position.  And nine times out of ten, because I brush after every meal and floss every night, all I suffer is a little scraping and a good motorized polish with a gritty substance that tastes like warm Orange Julius.

Not bad.

Not bad at all.


  1. Aaagh! I finally went to the dentist, first time in 3 years, two weeks ago. And had to have three fillings. And when he told me to rinse at the end, I somehow got my numb mouth to retain some water from the little paper cup, pursed my rubbery lips to spit, and saw a perfect spout of water curve up and over the bowl to land on the floor a couple of feet away. I apologised profusely, sucked some more water into my rubbery mouth… and did exactly the same thing AGAIN. I nearly died of embarrassment on top of all the other things I’d been nearly dying of, 40 mins in the Torture Chair.

    Now I have a lingering jaw spasm that won’t go away (a horror for someone who likes to eat and talk as much as I do), and had to go BACK to the dentist yesterday about THAT. (The reward for finally going to the dentist is, apparently, having to go back to the dentist.) He frowned and looked puzzled that I’d had the problem for so many days. You are so right! No one wants to see a dentist looking puzzled!!!

    So the horror of it all is very fresh, and I can empathise with all your fears, rational or otherwise. In my mind, it looks EXACTLY like that picture, except maybe darker and full of cobwebs, with pools of blood on the floor… (and pools of water making a slip hazard)

    • Diane says:

      I love the little paper cup! My dentist doesn’t use that anymore. Probably because too many patients were spitting on the floor. That’s too funny. Now my dentist uses a little hose that sucks stuff out.

  2. Joan merdinger says:

    I wonder why we are so scared of the dentist ? Most of the time like you say nothing happens of consequence. It just seems so like a torture chamber in there!

  3. Aussa Lorens says:

    I’ve developed a fear of the dentist over the last few years… I just had a random root canal a couple months ago– I showed up thinking I just needed a filling and he did a root canal. He never explained this. They just began and it was horrible and painful and so so confusing. And expensive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *