Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2024 The Dental Gym

A reader recently asked for advice on how to fight his fear of dentists.  The answer is to visit the dentist more often. But that can get tiring. And expensive. So here’s advice from someone who made it over the finish line in the race against fear and impatience.

It’s called the Dental Gym.  You go there to “work out” as you would to a health club.

Two rooms.  One is a waiting room.  You sit around, read outdated magazines, fidget and let the fear build. You hear the sounds of drills. They are sound effects. You hear the sounds of people making the kind of loud sounds you can make only with your mouth wide open. They also are on an MP3 player attached to a speaker system.

A fake hygienist eventually wanders out and beckons you into her chair.  She is not really a hygienist. She just plays one at the dental gym.

You sit down.  You open your mouth. She peers in, a concerned look on her face.  She’s taken the “hmmm” course at dental assistant school (see Wessay #2023 for the medical version.)

She takes a sterile probe from a sealed envelope, and a flashlight and looks but doesn’t touch.  “I’ll have to get Dr. Brown in to look at this.”  She calls Dr. Brown by pressing a button on a keypad attached to the wall, then sits in silence.

You wait. And wait. And wait, all the time getting antsier.  Finally, “Dr.” Brown arrives.  He’s wearing a smock and one of those cyclops headbands.

He puts on a pair of exam gloves and a mask.  And asks you to open wide, please.

“Dr.” Brown is not a real dentist. He just looks like one.  He peers into your mouth. “Hmmm. (They teach Hmmm at Dental School, too. That’s the only course he took before deciding dentistry was not for him.)  He shakes his head sorrowfully… at least as sorrowfully as one can look wearing a cyclops headband with magnifying lenses and a mask.

The fake dentist asks the fake hygienist “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”  She says, sorrowfully, “no.” Then he asks her to get some extra tools.  She returns to the exam room with a toolbox similar to one you find at the car repair shop. She puts it down behind the chair where you can’t see it. It lands heavily.

He rummages through it, making toolbox noises… takes out a battery operated drill and tests it a few times.  “Where’s my number three drill bit?” he asks.

“Oh,” says the not-hygienist I think the Snap-On tools guy is outside sharpening it.”

“Dr.” Brown says you’ll have to return. Please go to the desk and make an appointment.  He takes off the gloves, the mask and the cyclops headband and walks dejectedly out of the room.

You make the appointment and there’s no charge because you’ve pre-paid for half a dozen training sessions of which this is the first.

By the time you’re finished with Session Six, six weeks from now, you will have lost your fear.

You’ll go to your real dentist and take your exam like a pro!

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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