A lot of people have fears of going to the dentist.  This is certainly justifiable as where else do you voluntarily go to have people poke, prod, scrape, and drill you all while under a bright halogen bulb?  On paper it sounds absolutely miserable, and for many people in real life it lives up to the billing. 

I don’t count myself in this group as I’ve really never been one to hate the dentist office.  In truth, I kind of like the taste of their flavored tooth pastes and as a child having access to Highlights magazines and eraser animals, I found the whole experience rather pleasurable.  As I’ve aged however I’ve become wary of the dentist not because of any physical pain, but rather due to the world of lies in which they live. 

I have this theory that dentists and orthodontists are the most lied to profession on the planet.  Think about it.  When they ask whether you need a roll of dental floss in the little bag they give you at the end of the visit what is your answer?  If you’re anything like me you quickly respond, “yes please, I am running a little low on floss these days” despite the fact that the last time I actually had dental floss in my mouth was during my last appointment (outside of the 24 hours prior to my visit trying to make up quickly for the previous six months of neglect). 

These guys have to know you’re lying right?  He just got done flossing your teeth to the point that it looks like he hit you in the mouth with a brick requiring you to rinse not one, not twice, but thrice to clear the carnage and yet you sit there with a straight face telling him you’re flossing twice a day as you were told.  He’s calling bullshit right there, but with the same calm demeanor you used to lie to his face, he responds in kind, “will do.  It’s looking great in there” (despite your mouth resembling Ed Norton’s in Fight Club).

This verbal ballet of lies goes on every day for every patient they bring through that chair. 

Example 1:

Dentist:  Are you sure you don’t smoke, because your teeth are pretty yellow?

Patient: I just drank some coffee.

Dentist: That’s probably it.

Example 2:

Dentist:  You’ve been brushing twice a day correct?

Patient:  Like clockwork

Dentist:  Some people are just predisposed to five cavities per visit I guess.

The lies go on and on like this…

I did the same thing with my orthodontist as well when I was in Junior High.  Remember those rubber bands that you’re supposed to wear with your braces to help keep you jaw in line?  I think I wore them less than five times in my two years of having brace.  Those things essentially worked as an anti-aphrodisiac with the ladies.  But every time I went in for my two week checkup the good doctor would ask, “can I get you another bag of rubber bands?”   Without missing a beat I’d respond, “you know what, make it two bags.  I’m just ripping through those things.  I like to keep ‘em tight as once they get stretched out I just don’t feel I’m doing my jaw the service that it deserves.”

 As I look back in life I’d have to say that the people that I pay to keep my mouth in order are easily the people I’ve lied to on the most regular and consistent basis.  I’m not proud of that fact but I’m also not denying it.  And I’m not alone either. 

The real question is what does this do to these people’s psyches?  How can you live in a world where day in and day out the people you deal with every fifteen minutes just lie to your face time and again?  It must be why dentists eventually only end up working three days a week at odd hours.  They have a subconscious urge to get away from all the fibbing as best as possible.  I’m convinced there is a direct correlation between all this lying and the fact that dentists have such an outlandish suicide rate.

As I’ve grown older I’ve visited various dentists throughout the neighborhoods in which I’ve lived.  Some seem to be able to either brush the lies off or live in a state of suspended disbelief where they assume everything the patient tells them is true.  These are the people that end up investing in property in the Everglades.  The next group pretty appear to much black out during working hours, see each patient as another $150/hr sitting in their chair, and have a mental clock ticking in the back of their head counting the seconds until their next tee time.  I’m pretty sure I had one of these near my last apartment who had the assistant do all the work (scrape, floss, clean, repeat…), came in to verify that everything looked good (took all of 30 seconds), and then said on the way out, “everything looks good m’am, see you in six months.”   M’am!?  Seriously buddy?  Sure I was wearing a floral shirt, but you didn’t even know you were talking to a guy?  Come on…

The third kind of dentist is the worst however.  They are the ones that have been broken down by all the dishonesty over the years and they take it out on you, the patient.  For the record I have an immaculate record with my teeth.  31 years and not a single cavity (thank you very much).  But five years ago I visited a new dentist and upon her first inspection of my mouth, she found two “divots” in my teeth that may lead to a cavity.  Her recommendation was that we pre-emptively fill them so that a cavity does not have a chance to form.  This was the first I’ve ever heard of any such divots but what do I know?  I’m just a patient and this person seems to have a nice office and appears well off, they’re the expert, I guess I better go along with it.  One hour and $400 later I had two fillings that I didn’t need and still no cavities.  The more I thought about it the more upset I was.  You’re literally in about as vulnerable position as you can be in those chairs.  The bright lights in your eyes, people with metal tools are swirling around, hell, they even put you in a bib.  You are totally at their mercy.  Of course you’re going to believe them and do what they say.  At this point you and your wallet are in their hands.  Be it pre-emptive divot filling or signs of the West Nile Virus along your gum line, these vultures can pretty much tell you whatever they want and will ring up an astronomical bill without a second thought. 

They can go eff-themselves is what I say.  This is why I don’t like the dentist, not because of the pain, or the sounds, or the blood (and there’s a lot of it when I go).  I don’t like my life and finances being put in the hands of these jaded s.o.b.’s who have been broken by years of lies and deceit and now hold your future in their warped tool-wielding hands.  Count me as one who is ready to take a stand and take back the control of my oral hygiene.  Today on my way home I’m cutting the chord and buying my own tooth care supplies so that I no longer have to return to the teet of their giveaway bags.  I’m going to go buy my own pack of floss and stick to it this time so that I know that I have the control in the health of my own incisors.  On second thought, maybe I should get two…