Tricky Dentist

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I took the 9 year old to have 2 teeth removed today. His mouth is so overcrowded and the orthodontist is doing some hardscaping in there so the canines had to go.

He was really worried in the days leading up to the appointment. Yesterday, I referred to his appointment as “dental surgery” while on the phone with someone…. and “the procedure” when talking to someone else.

“Why do you have to make it sound so much scarier! Why don’t you just say my teeth are getting pulled out!”

“The extraction?” I asked.

“Oh my gosh!!!” He was the picture of nervous exasperation.

Of course, I was nervous too. I didn’t want him to be in pain, wondered if he would need stitches. Could he eat solid food right away? How much bleeding would there be? How sore would he be?

But I played it cool.

Until we got into the room. He sat in the dental chair, and I sat far away in the chair in a corner. I watched his hands clenched into fists, white knuckled. So I came over and sat near his legs on his chair. I couldn’t stand being far from him.

I wondered if I could stay for the procedure…. and I fully intended to. How could I leave him?

The dental staff came in, ready to get to work. The dentist was great with my son, smiling, lighthearted, and reassuring. He told him, no, he told US, that mom (me) would be with him the whole time. The WHOLE time!

So they put the gas on, and his eyes get heavier and heavier. And I’m there with him and I’m ready to stay so I can make sure he’s ok, and because the dentist TOLD us I’d be there and there is NO WAY he would lie to us.

So the kid falls asleep. Dentist looks over at me, still smiling. And says, “Ok mom, you can go to the waiting room now, we’ll get you when he’s done.

“But…. you really didn’t mean I could stay??”

He’s still smiling….and shaking his head. No way lady, get the hell out of here so you don’t see us ripping teeth out of your kids head.

I mean, he didn’t say that… but I’m sure that’s what he meant when he just repeated that I could just hang out in the waiting room.

So I left. Feeling like I failed to keep my promise to stay with him. Praying he’d be fine and that he wouldn’t realize I wasn’t there.

And I didn’t get to go back when he woke up. A very nice nurse type person came to tell me that he was up, picking out a toy, and he’d be just a few more minutes and why don’t I get the car and pull it around to pick him up at the exit?

They were so good at handling me…. they had a system, a very efficient system that ran so smoothly, as long as no parents got involved to mess it up I think.

I walked so quickly to get my car, pulling around with the urgent sense to just get there so I could SEE him finally! I got there, parked…and got out to go in if necessary because I just really, really wanted to see my kid.

And he was ok. They wheeled him out and told me he threw up when he woke up, pretty common from the gas was what I was told. Gave him a little blue puke bag to carry on the way home. Left him with me to buckle him in. I buckled him. kissed him. touched his cheek. looked at him. He was fine.

But he did ask me why I wasn’t there when he woke up. He didn’t seem bothered, but he did notice. And I said in a very casual way that I needed to go get the car so he didn’t have to walk far and they wanted it all ready so he didn’t have to wait. He didn’t need to know that it was physically uncomfortable for me to be separated from him for that time.

No I didn’t like that. But I understand it. I’m sure parents can be the worst to deal with… delaying things as we cry with our babies if they are scared or in pain…. possibly freaking out on the doctor if we think they’re being too rough…. or maybe getting sick ourselves seeing blood from teeth being yanked… I get it, really.

But still.


Don’t be nice, it’s scary



I’ve been going to this dentist for a while now, I found the office on Angie’s list years ago when I was searching for someone I could feel comfortable with….I hate the dentist and I hate sitting in the dentists chair. Those shiny little metal hooks, all those instruments lined up ready to gouge me when I least expect it….. It’s terrifying.

So when I started going to this office for my cleanings, I was happy to find that the dentist and all his staff are incredibly gentle and nice. They make sure I’m comfortable, explain everything they are going to do before they do it, and give me time to deal with my fear of having them poking around in my mouth.

But, I think I’m going to quit. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now…. something about that office bothers me.

They are very nice. Actually, TOO nice…..



There is something twilight zone-ish about walking in and having everyone, EVERYONE ask me about a vacation I took months ago, after my last visit. It’s not just “Oh hey, didn’t you say you were going on a trip, how was it?”

No…. it’s “Oh, how was Disney with the kids? You were going to stay at the Dolphin hotel, right? I heard it rained that weekend, 4 months ago…. cause I was just at home thinking about you guys on your vacation and decided to track the weather the whole time you were in Florida so we’d have something to talk about when you came in for your next cleaning…”

And it’s the whole office. They ALL know. It freaks me out.

Obviously they take note of what we talk about,  so the patient feels like they are important and cared about….  I should be thrilled that I’m treated so well, that they try so hard to make me feel like what I say to them really matters, as I chat around the pair of hands stuffed in my mouth…

This happens every visit. I walk in and it’s like these people are my best friends. But not my real, genuine best friends. It feels too Stepfordy. Too perfect. Something is wrong. NO ONE is that nice all the time.

On the one hand I really want to know how to get my own staff to this level of polite perfection, I would love them to answer the phone by telling everyone what a great day they’re having!  On the other hand, I feel if I dig too deep, ask too many questions, they might lock me in a back room never to be seen again. It’s how my mind works. You’re treating me too well, what are you hiding???