I’m posting this way late or way early, depending on how you look at it because I’m about to start taking some mind-altering pain numbing medication to prepare for the dental surgery in the morning. Looking forward to about 3 hours in the chair so thank goodness for Ativan and Vicodin and Nitrous. Actually the Ativan is new for me – they usually give me Valium. You see I’m pretty much a basket case when it comes to going to the dentist. Just getting my teeth cleaned is enough for a panic attack.
So today’s memory challenge is, you guessed it, the dentist.
The dentist of my childhood was not a child’s dentist. His name was Dr. Fulgham and he was my mother’s dentist. I don’t know if I was his only child patient but sometimes it felt like it.
The trip to the dentist would go something like this: my mom would go in first. I’d sit in the waiting room looking at Highlights magazine and feeling my stomach turn itself inside out. My mom would come out wearing a big smile. A big, white, cavity-free smile.
Then they would call my name.
I’d trudge down the hall and climb into the chair. The windows were those milky glass kind that you couldn’t really see out of but I knew that Williams Elementary school was across the street. It wasn’t my school but it was the one my mom went to when she was little. I’d sit there, listening to the swirl of the bowl and try to imagine my mom small enough to go to that school.
Then HE would come in. He’d have that headband thing on that was supposed to help him feel better. He never greeted me, just dove right into my mouth. He never explained what he was going to do, he just did it. And it always hurt.
He didn’t believe in giving shots for the pain.
What he believed in were lectures. So every dental visit would end with a lecture about how my teeth were bad and how my mother’s teeth were perfect. He would ask me why I couldn’t have teeth more like my mom. Many, many years later a dentist told me I just had very thin enamel and it wasn’t my fault but that dentist, for more years that I want to remember, made me feel like crap. I’m sure that most of my dental fears started in that chair.
After the dentist my mom would walk me next door to Baskin – Robbins and I would get a mint chocolate chip cone.
It was never enough.
Your turn. What are your memories of going to the dentist as a child?