Tooth or Dare

There is a certain amount of annual overhauling maintenance that comes with the territory when you’re over 40.

I suppose that’s the case at any age, but since I don’t like visiting the doctor for any reason, I haven’t always been the best at keeping those annual dates.

But since the fastest way to look 46 older than I really am would be to start losing my teeth, I’ve been pretty diligent about my every-six-months dental visits.

But I hate them.

The only reasons I keep my appointments are:

  1. My fear of losing my teeth
  2. The amount of money my parents spent on braces
  3. My love of corn-on-the-cob
  4. The funny chick who cleans my teeth

Yes, I love my dental hygienist. She’s a mom with two younger girls and a crazy puppy. They go camping, her girls play soccer, and they live in our same smallish town.

So even though my mouth is wide open for 80% of the time and I’m drooling, we still have pleasant conversation.

It’s like a mom’s night out, except without the martinis.

With spit up and ugly bibs, minus the babies.

This morning I pushed myself out the door, arguing (you know argue with yourself too) that at least I wouldn’t have to go back until Christmas and I could have a nice chat with what’s-her-name (because for all my liking her? I never remember her name).

I chugged the last of my HUGE mug of coffee, brushed my teeth a second time for brownie points good measure, and was out the door.

So when some other lady-who-cleans-teeth came out and called my name?

This is where the appointment went down hill.

She led me all the way to the room in the back, a room usually reserved for the pediatric patients. I briefly wondered if I would get to pick a prize, since my daughter got a Rubik’s Cube and a teddy bear just last week.

“I’m Kathy and I’ll be filling in today,” she finally admitted. I wanted to say filling in for who? so I could remember my favorite gal’s name, but I couldn’t speak.

She cranks my mouth open and starts scraping. No questions about the kids, my summer plans, my pedicure, or what the weather is going to be like.

Nothing. Just scraping.

Keep in mind that I chugged that HUGE mug of coffee.

After some more scraping, digging, and generally offensive poking around she gets out what I think is the water-pic thingie.

“I’m going to use this on the stains.”


(Mental note: switch to white wine)

She proceeds to use a tool that I know has never been used on my pearly whites before. It’s not that regular water-pic thingie that they use to fill your mouth with an insane amount of water until you gag.

This thing? Like a power-washer for your enamel.

With a sound like nails on a chalkboard (if you are my age, you know that sound).

Tiny jets of water are spewing into my hair, onto the face I actually made-up for the occasion, and down my throat.

I didn’t need any more water down my throat…or had you forgotten the HUGE mug of coffee I chugged?

The over-40 bladder is not something to be taken lightly.

Finally she declares me stain free. Actually she doesn’t declare anything, she just stops pummeling my teeth with highly pressurized water.

And we move on to the polishing and the other water-pic thingie.

Cue full bladder.

The more I hear the sound of the polisher and the whish-whish of the water-pic thingie filling my mouth, the more I need to use the restroom.

Mouth filling with water….whish-whish….

At what point in this torture would I even be able to get up? Not while being blasted or polished or water-picked.

When I almost can’t stand it anymore, she suctions out my mouth and asks if she should raise the chair to an upright position while I wait for the dentist to come in.

I take my opening, not caring that I’m wearing a dry smudge of spit and an ugly blue paper bib.

I excuse myself and practically run down the hall to the beautifully appointed bathroom which I know I’ve helped pay for over the years.


Back in the chair, the dentist chats me up, asks several nice questions (which I can answer, since he isn’t torturing me with tools), and I’m done. Back after Christmas.


Next up? My annual OB/GYN appointment. I love my doctor; she’s a mom and she’s funny and just makes it so much easier to force myself to keep my appointment.

I just hope she doesn’t call in sick.


  1. I’d post but I’m off to the dentist as it’s been a whole year and you guilted me into returning to 6 mos. visits…

  2. I can totally relate. I go every 3 months for my cleaning and drive 45 minutes because I refused to change dentists once we moved. I love my hygienist. If I had to see the “other” hygienist I’d never go back. Sitting in her chair is like being at a butcher!

  3. Funny thing is Sherri, I go tomorrow for my 6month cleaning! I’ll be thinking of you the whole time πŸ™‚

  4. OMG I know the sound of which you speak – that nails-on-a-chalkboard power washer thingamajig! I cringed just reading that.

    I really really hate going to the dentist.

  5. I actually like the density if for the simple fact that it’s the one place I can actually unplug/unwind. For just a little bit, you can’t do much of anything…someone is prodding around your teeth with medieval torture instruments, you’re lying down…can’t look at the phone, can’t do much talking, just sit back and be. There isn’t enough of that sometimes.

  6. I have my first dental appointment in six years coming up in a few weeks. I really like to give my dentist a challenge. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.

  7. Having to pee while in the dentist chair has got to be uncomfortable! I hate the dentist– I won’t even tell you how long it’s been since my last visit….

  8. You know, I like my dental hygienist too. And someone else was filling in for her last time as well!

    But no matter how much I like all those people, I still hate the dentist. YUCK!

    Wanna know what’s worse than going to the dentist though? Taking your 3-yr-old. Wish me luck in 2 weeks.

  9. Oh I hate going the dentist. But of course I never say that in front of my kids. They love their dentist. For me, it’s never good news and usually ends up with the me discussing some super expensive procedure he wants me to take – like refilling old cavities, deep cleaning, etc., etc… Props to you for going when you’re supposed to. The only motivation I have is that I have to use up the benefits my husband paid for. So far, no tooth aches, so thank God for that. Otherwise, see you next year doc!

    Funny post.

  10. No matter how stained my teeth get, I will never give up red wine.


    I have a chatty hygienist, too, and it’s so interesting that that’s her chosen field.

  11. When I was a child, my dentist’s name was Dr. Nawful.
    Yep, we called him Awful Nawful.
    He was probably 80 years old scarred me for life.
    I blame him for my not-every-since-month visits.
    I love when you bring the funny, Sherri. πŸ™‚

  12. My dentist is hilarious. She’s like a loopy hippy with kids. Talks about how her cat needs to get laid, how she saw Katy Perry w/ her daughter. Love her. Having to pee while they’re scraping away, though? I’da wet my pants. Weak bladder here.

  13. I actually like my new dentist I’ve been seeing him for about 2 years now, before that I hadn’t seen a dentist in 20 yrs..nope not exagerrating…because I hated them..

    but when I got my teeth cleaned in March, I couldn’t stop touching my teeth (much like when I got my braces off) they feel so good…..
    however If I had to pee….I would have stopped that little exercise right in the middle. LOL

    let’s finger cross for your GYN appt!!!! πŸ™‚

  14. I had a bad dental experience recently that I posted about too. Mine was about a root canal. Some endodontist read that post and thought it was hilarious, because he left me a comment saying how root canals weren’t that bad anymore. That guy should have keep his dentistry opinions to himself.

    I’ve attached the link in case you want to read it. If the link doesn’t work, go to my blog, go to the Gallery page, and look for the post about Dr. Kermit.

    Because everyone needs to have a little green frog, er, endodontist, work on his/her teeth.

  15. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    The chatty hygienist has left my dentist’s office which was okay I really didn’t need to hear about how horrible a mom her huband’s ex is. Now I have one that scrapes parts of my teeth I didn’t think you could scrape for over an hour. I am hoping she leaves too.

  16. The powerwash! Yes, that is the perfect name for that thing. The part I hate the most? When the dentist comes in and starts to call out the numbers – according to how much the gum has receded. It goes from 1-4…4 being very bad. So while I’m lying there…I’m mentally preparing for each poke, which becomes associated with a number: “1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 3..(WAIT! DID SHE SAY “3”!!)…1,2,2,2….you get the idea.

    By the time she’s finished…I’m ready for a Xanax…

  17. I LOVE going to the dentist. I love getting my teeth cleaned. I really do. How sick is that??

    Also – loved your mental note on the white wine!

  18. I hate the old bait and switch when you get someone you’re not expecting at a provider. I know I know hygienists get sick days too, but I don’t like someone I know poking around on me!

  19. Just cross your fingers that the OB/GYN doesn’t pull out some new power-washer tools.

    Because that’s a reason to never go back right there…

  20. Ugh. I hate going to the dentist.

    Hate- not too strong of a word here. At all.

    Also? Dying at Julie’s comment above. DYING.


  21. I used to love the dentist until just recently when ours started to be weird and then told us not to come anymore.
    we had canceled an appointment and apparently her time is far too important

  22. You’re so funny! My dental hygienist is a chatterbox as well, which always baffles me a little. Do they know how hard it is to hold a conversation with someone when you have to spit?

    Tell me you at least got to pick a prize out of the box after all that? It would have made the whole experience so much better if you would have gotten to take home a Rubik’s cube or a teddy bear… no?

  23. *snort!*

    This is especially funny because I had be teeth cleaned today.

    And today I finally had to admit that I need a crown done.

    Cause, you know, my dentist really needs to update his bathroom.

  24. I’m dying at Julie’s comment.
    And while I hate the dentist, I love seeing my OB.
    As if that’s a surprise.

  25. Like Cheryl, I also love going to the dentist and getting my teeth cleaned. I love it.

    I just wish my teeth weren’t so yellow and that white strips were so damn expensive. $20 for a box? pfft. ::sips coffee and red wine::

  26. My ob/gyn is a great surgeon and a nice guy, but he’s always making inappropriate comments. Seriously.
    Anyway, I have dreams all the time that my teeth are falling out. It’s the WORST.

  27. Hahahhahaa. Yep, those are 2 of my least favorite appts. of the year. Dental hygenist and OB/GYN. Sometimes I think I prefer the OB/GYN to the hygenist even cuz the metal tools scraping on my teeth make me feel like an insane person. Total nails on the chalkboard experience.

  28. This is hilarious, is there any annual exam that is actually pleasant. And I had to find Julie’s comment to see what the fuss was all about. So funny.

  29. I know the exact instrument of which you speak, and I’ve declared it forbidden on my mouth. And I make sure to remind them of it at every 6-month visit. I’ve even asked them to add it to my chart. Yeah, I’m THAT patient.

    I hate going to THE dentist, but I do like MY dentist. I’ve seen him a lot lately due to some recent oral surgery, a beautiful new bridge, and then an impeccably-timed root canal two days later. Now, as soon as I walk in, he slips a nitrous mask over my nose. So, I like him a lot.

  30. Love this post (and your blog. Just kind of stumbled in from Twitter). Getting cleanings has always been a dreaded event for me. I hate the scraping, the mindless small talk, and the questions about whether I’ve been flossing (of course not). lol.

  31. you know me, i am already on the bladder transplant waitlist…feel free to get in line πŸ˜€

  32. This was so entertaining! My MIL is a dental hygienist. I will definitely share this one with her!

  33. uhhh yeah. HATE going to the dentist. I get dental anxiety (what? I didn’t make it up. I’m certain it’s a real thing!) for example: LAST January (read: 2010) I had a root canal. and then I was supposed to go back for a crown prep… except I didn’t. (I said it was because I didn’t have the money, which I didn’t right THEN… but probably did at some point between then and now… maybe.) so then in October while eating pizza, the filling in that tooth fell out… and because I’d used all my dental insurance available for the year (on the root canal, of course) so I told myself I’d get an appointment in January… except that came and went… and then in April a piece of my tooth (the dead one with no root) broke off… and then another piece broke off a couple weeks ago… and what makes it ALL better? my dentist no longer takes my insurance, and my HR office is refusing to correct an enrollment error that would allow me to change insurances and go to the dentist of my choosing. So. yeah. not sure when I’ll be going to the dentist next. hopefully before the rest of my tooth breaks off, eh?

    ps – I also love my OB/GYN – she gives me a hug and asks me about Goose every time I see her. she kinda rocks. and I’ll be less-than-pleased if she’s not there when I go for my Grand Opening in a couple weeks.

    pps – Julie’s comment honestly made me LOL. it was the funny πŸ™‚

  34. I’m one of those people that has to get numbed up for a teeth cleaning, I so hate the dentist.

  35. I hate it when I don’t get my regular gal! She’s so gentle and laughs when I tell her I only flossed that morning.

    Do I like getting my teeth scraped and poked? No. Do I secretly love getting to just lay in the chair for a while with no kids needing my attention? Absolutely.