Monday, November 18, 2013

In The Pursuit of Happiness: On my funny trip to the dentist

The dentist is a funny place, and not just because of the laughing gas.

I should know. I’ve logged my fair share of hours in the hot seat, that incredibly interesting-shaped chair that can bend and twist and turn. I’ve been poked and prodded all in the name of optimal dental health.

By 29, I was an old pro at all this hygiene stuff. Or so I thought. When my six-month checkup rolled around, I couldn’t help but think, “Why do my teeth feel as if they’re on an audition?”

There was a strange feeling in the air the morning of my appointment. Sure, my guilt over being a month late for my cleaning may have had something to do with it. But as I brushed my teeth -- extra hard and for a few extra minutes -- there was a distinct feeling of anticipation in the air. No, no. It was certainly more than that. There was a fog of tension hovering over me. The kind of tension that makes you nearly nervous enough to begin grinding your teeth, but alas, I couldn’t grind my teeth that morning for obvious reasons. It was the big day for my pearly whites. It was their showcase. They would be on display. After all that time of being cooped up in my mouth, they’d finally get their chance to shine. They’d be like the kids on “Glee,” only without the musical theatrics.
I’d never felt this way before, but I figured this was how actors and Broadway stars felt. I let the performance anxiety sit in my stomach all morning, all the while cursing myself for making my “tooth audition” for early afternoon. I could barely concentrate on my work knowing that in a few short hours, my teeth would be center stage and illuminated by that giant light that seemed to shine brighter with each passing visit.

Before I knew it, it was time for my audition. It was a shining moment for my teeth. Would they be on their toes? What would the judges (the hygienist and dentist) think? Would they -- my teeth, not the judges -- make it to the next round? I feared they’d be sent packing like the rest of the teeth that had savored the sweet taste of one too many Tootsie Roll Pops. I knew that even one cavity in one tooth could send the look my way. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here. The one where the hygienist or dentist looks at you very plainly and says, “Oh, I see we have a bit of plaque buildup here.”

That’s exactly what happened to me. I saw the look on the hygienist’s face. My heart sank. No perfect 10 from the judges. It looked like my teeth and I wouldn’t be advancing to the next round. I suppose I just couldn’t handle all that pressure. The rigorous schedule caused me to crack. Or, ironically, eat lots of comfort food, which isn’t usually teeth-friendly. After all, you can’t really lie to the dentist, can you? She’s going to know if you’ve been snacking on one too many Butterfingers. It might not literally be written all over your face, but it could be written all over your teeth.
Do you have any funny dentist stories, friends? Do you fear that chair as much as I do? xoxo

[Photos via We Heart It]


  1. Lol...great analogy!! I get a little anxious before dentist appointments...and once I had a feisty hygienist from South Carolina who kept asking me to guess where she was from based on her accent (she was up North, here in Canada after all!) didn't take me long (having lived in Virginia and my husband being from NC) - and I think she was disappointed the game ended so soon...:P

  2. This is a very interesting observation, Melissa. But I agree with you, it feels like an audition the moment you sit on the dentist chair and have your teeth looked at. The fact that he/she put our teeth on the spotlight and check one-by-one if there’s something wrong with them. Dentists may be a little strict - they should be. But at the end of the day, what they do is for their patients' own good. Thanks for sharing!

    Stormy @


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