The High-Pitched Whine of the Drill is Like the Song of Angels

I’m off to the dentist! To have a cavity filled! Go me!

Console me with tales of your own most recent dental appointments. Did you escape unscathed? Or were your forced, like me, to return at a later date to atone for those missed brushings?

68 Comments on “The High-Pitched Whine of the Drill is Like the Song of Angels”

  1. OK that’s just weird. I’m off to the dentist today as well and am not looking forward to it. Commiseration all ’round.

  2. I hope your dentist is as free with the valium and Novocaine as mine is. I’m such a wuss…

  3. Last time I went to the dentist I’d let it slide for a year. There was quite a bit of scraping, hammering, and chiseling required to get them clean, but no cavities, thank God.

  4. Brushing has never been an issue for me. I often brush twice a day, depending on what’s going on. Flossing is my weakness. I don’t do that near enough and as a result I had to undergo a rather nasty procedure a few years ago, in which the specialist sliced my gums away from my teeth, splayed them out, did some deep cleaning around the roots and sewed them back up. Not pleasant, but enough to convince me that I need to floss every day.

  5. While not my most recent, this one is my most memorable. I was in college, and woke up one Friday night with a pain in a molar like someone ramming an ice pick through my jaw. It was horrible. Being a bartender, I knew that swishing vodka in my mouth and spitting it out would kill the pain. It did, but only for 15 min. at a time. I ended up staying awake all night, alone in my room swishing vodka in my mouth. I was miserable, and by 6:00 a.m. was swallowing the vodka as well. I was in rough shape. I started calling dentists in the phone book, begging for mercy, and luckily found one who would open up on a Saturday morning and treat me. I needed a root canal, so he got going. It took a while, and he was having a hard time getting one of my roots completely numb so he could run the little wire in there and destroy the nerve. It just wouldn’t numb up after several shots. Finally, he looked me straight in the eyes and said “I’m sorry, but this is really going to hurt” and then immediately shoved the wire in the root of the tooth and started ramming it back and forth. The pain was indescribable for about a second or two until the nerve was destroyed. Then it was fine. I respected his honesty, though. That’s something I will never forget.

  6. I haven’t been in two years. I have a cracked open tooth. Yikes.

    Previous to that I went for almost 10 years without. The main thing that got me to go to the dentist for a while? She was a cute indian woman. So sue me.

    I know, I’m fucked.

  7. I had to have two cavities filled last year after several clean years. That’s not remarkable in and of itself, but the remarkable thing is that the dentist wouldn’t have even found these tiny cavities if not for the state-of-the-art digital X-ray thing he’s just added to his arsenal last year. When it came time for X-Rays, the hygenist pulled a module from behind the computer, trailing several wires, and stuck it in my mouth. We aimed the Xray emitter at my head as usual and left the room. Seconds later there was a fresh image on the screen of my teeth. the dentist came in a moment later, told the software to do some complex image analysis, and concluded that two gray blotches – which to the naked eye looked just like dozens of other blotches on the image – were two small cavities that he should take care of. It sounded like a shakedown to me.

    As a wrinkle, my dentist is also a customer of mine, who buys a service contract every year for some equipment I sold him. I want the business, and so I feel compelled not to question him too closely about these things. What a tangled web we weave.

  8. I have some sort of mutation with extra nerves in my mouth and throat. It’s handy that I can tell a doctor exactly where a sort spot is (eg. just a little below the left eustachian tube and slightly farther back, or second molar from the back, top right) but it’s a real pain (literally) for dental work. Typical is turn on gas and show me on xrays what is to be done, then turn up the gas and give triple novocaine, then I start my loud music in ears. Carmina Burana works well. Insurance won’t pay for both gas and novocaine, which is another fun thing.

  9. Loki invented orthodontistry. “Just a little bit longer” my ass – I’m in these bloody retainers for the next, oh… INDEFINITE TIME PERIOD much?

  10. I’ve had a painful root canal once, when the whole area was so inflamed the anaesthetic wouldn’t take. Otherwise, I’ve had a pretty good run with “Nnnnno, I can still feel that, give me another shot and see to the next person in line while I wait for it to kick in.”

    Couple root canals, couple extractions, half a dozen fillings, never felt a damn thing.

  11. I’d stopped going to the dentist for quite some time. Partly due to insurance issues, but mostly as I hate going. The best outcome of a dentist visit I’ve ever had is they charge me to stick nasty tasting crap in my mouth and don’t drill.

    Unfortunately a couple months back, I had a tooth break. Since then I’ve gone back I’ve gotten a crown and had 3 fillings. I’m also scheduled to go back several times over the next couple of months to get a few more fillings. *sigh*

  12. I met my wife at a dentist’s office. I went in for 4 or 5 treatments over a few weeks trying to find the right moment to ask her out – without slobbering and drooling from the anaesthetic.

    Not only did she say ‘yes’, I also got myself some mighty shiny teeth in the process.

    See, some good can come from a visit to the dentist…

  13. My insurance won’t pay for gas either but I have this weird neurological disorder and if I don’t have gas I start throwing up and fainting during dental work so I figure it’s worth the fifty bucks a visit extra. For my poor dentist’s sake as well as mine.

    When I got this thing (post meningitis) my old dentist refused to treat me any longer because he said he was afraid I would have an adverse reaction and sue him. And he charged me seventy bucks to tell me this. And he had Christian music playing in the background. Not that I’m bitter and remember every detail or anything…

    The next one I went to said he wasn’t comfortable working on me and to keep looking.

    My current dentist is a wonderful woman who trained in a clinic with patients who were in hospice and firmly believes that everyone deserves access to quality dental care. She’s very gentle, kind and smart. She’s well worth the protracted search.

  14. I have no stories of my own, but I can relate a story of an idiot friend as a warning. He went to a dentist to get a tooth pulled, as the pain was horrible. Infection. The dentist gave him an antibiotic and said to come back in a week after the infection cleared up. The long and short is, once the pain was gone, he didn’t go back. You guessed it. An infection hit later that year and he returned to the dentist. Same story all around. It took a third round of infection for him to get the point and return to have it pulled. I called him all sorts of a fool. Heh!

  15. My last ordeal was a dental implant to replace a cracked tooth.

    Although expensive, it was surprisingly easy, probably because I was asleep the whole time.

    Ah, anesthesia!

  16. I went in December for my first cleaning in 7 years. No cavities, no problems at all.

  17. the specialist sliced my gums away from my teeth, splayed them out, did some deep cleaning around the roots and sewed them back up.


    All I can say by way of comfort is:

    “Is it safe?”
    “Is it safe?”
    “Is it safe?”

  18. Never had a cavity. My appointments are always along “Wow, nice teeth. Did you have braces? No? Wow, your teeth are really straight.” Then again I was born with a rare mouth tumor and the removal surgery took one of my adult teeth, creating a lot of unnatural space so my teeth could wiggle their way in straight.

  19. My gums betrayed me.

    They absorbed all the insides out of my front tooth, leaving only a thin enamely shell. When the dentist took the tooth out the shell was still there, stuck to my jawbone, so he chiseled it out. With a chisel. And a hammer. It is a very strange feeling to have ones jawbone chiseled.

  20. Funny you should ask… I went to the dentist yesterday. I haven’t had a filling since I was a kid. It was in a baby tooth even. Got two fillings yesterday… but not because of cavities.

    Turns out the gums above my number five and number 12 teeth receded a little and exposed some root structure. My cutie dentist bonded ’em up and they’re good as new. No anesthetic. No drilling. In and out in 30 minutes.

  21. (1) I’ve never had a cavity, and I’m substantially older than Our Gracious Host. I’ve had teeth extracted for orthodontia, but that’s it. (My son makes up for it, through no fault of his own.)

    (2) “And now we’ll see what it feels like when we cut into a healthy tooth.” — Dr. Szell
    “They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Sturdy. Heavy. Dull.” — Dr. Scrivellum

  22. I’ve got so much work that needs doing after years of neglect that I’m going to the dental college to save money. The last time I was there, I was having a cavity filled by a senior who was using me to pass a board exam, which was a very unique experience. Rather than relate it here, I’ll point you to the post where I blogged about it and let you discover that joy for yourself. Bonus: I managed to snap a sweet self portrait while waiting for a teacher to check on something the student was doing.

  23. Just went on Thursday last for a cleaning, which went pretty well. I had a big long break in going for about five years, after which I had four or five small cavities that had to be filled, which wasn’t too bad.

    Ironically, I go to the dentist every day, just about. Sometimes I go two or three times a day. Hell, I’m sitting in a dentist’s office right now. But that’s because he’s getting a new server and an upgrade to the latest version of his practice management software.

  24. Post #23 is me…forgot to put in details.

    (why would someone try to be anonymous, yet point too his blog?)

  25. I had serious and orthodontia from 4th grade through college. Itoften hurt and was considered non-cosmetic since it was due to huge overbite that made it hard from me to take a bite out of things. Because of that I developed a semi-large dental phobia. Nothing, not even my BC lumpectomy and chemo was as unpleasant as my orthodontic experience. I do have a nice smile now though, and I have no problems biting anymore.

    I’m also super resistant to Novocain. Once having some plantar warts removed I needed 17 shots for a proceedure that usually only takes two. I didn’t realize that if you had Novocain you weren’t supposed to feel anything, I thought it was just supposed to take the edge off which added to my dental phobia made getting fillings super fun.

    Then, I had to have some minor skin surgery in my mid 30’s and and since I’m a redhead as part of the pre-op they wanted a history of how I responded to various anesthesia. When I told them about my Novocain issues the Dr said that recent studies have shown redheads need larger quantity of anesthetic and a longer time for it to take hold than other people.

    I talked to my dentist about that the next time I needed a filling and he shot me up and let me wait half an hour before starting. The difference was night and day.

  26. I got an appointment tomorrow for my semi-annual cleaning. It blows my mind that after, what, ten thousand years of human civilization, we’re still scraping our teeth with sticks. Forget jet packs; I want my atomic molars!

  27. I had my 4 Wisdom teeth removed in mid December… still I have limited sensation in part of the left part of my jaw and tongue due to a nerve getting bruised.. apparently it is supposed to return to normal within 6-9 months and it was improving but now seems to be unchanged for 2 months.

    Apparently this is supposed to be a relatively rare occurance like 1% that nerve damage happens at all.

    It doesn’t hurt really or stop me from tasting things or anything but it is annoying.. with part of your mouth felling kinda frozen like it does when your freezing from getting a cavity filled is wearing off.. but for months and months.

  28. Missed flossings really.

    Fact A: I’ve never had a cavity. (But read on, before you accuse me of gloating in an unseemely manner.)

    Fact B: I try and try to floss but every time I go, I’ve failed somewhere and have to have the deep planar scaling. So while I seem to have no-cavity luck, I do not have the minor gingivitis luck.

    So floss, my friends. It’s as good for you, if not better than brushing.

  29. Adam @27:

    Actually, a lot of dentists are moving to an ultrasonic/water scraper deal, rather than the steely pointed stick. I just saw one in use yesterday at an office in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (not exactly a hotbed of technological innovation). Along with the computer technology, there’s going to be a lot of this kind of thing turning up in offices in the comings years.

  30. Most recent is uneventful, but here is my dental story.

    When I was a kid, my sister and I had mildy crooked teeth. We went to this orthadontist who was trying some new fangled way of making money, er, straightening teeth early. My sister and I and many other kids from our school got braces in the third or fourth grade. We still had some baby teeth left!

    Well, predictably (even to me at the age of 10), it didn’t work. It straightened out the existing teeth, but when the new teeth came in, it all went to hell. So, my sister and I and every other kid our age that went to this orthodontist had to have braces again in the ninth grade or so. My bottom teeth actually ended up more crooked than they were to start with, but my top teeth are straight, which is what you see anyway, I guess.

    I left highschool with a retainer cemented in my bottom teeth and never went back to that ortho. (The trauma!) Finally, I just got the pliers and ripped out the bottom retainer myself when I was about 20. The cement remnants didn’t totally disappear for another ten years. Now all my teeth wiggle just a little bit and I have a recurring dream that they fall out.

    Braces are sadistic, and that guy should have been sued but never was to my knowledge. I will put my kids in braces (if needed) only if and when they agree to it.

  31. The dental assistant watched soaps and Jerry Springer while she cleaned my teeth! Why are there televisions in the examination rooms I ask you? Is this what we’ve come to as a society!? And also ouch, dammit!

  32. Okay, well, without trying to sound like woe is me, I had a malignant tumour located in my hard palate, left side. I’m no stranger to mouth pain between surgery and radiation therapy. But after all that, I can’t seem to get my mouth open very wide, and it’s been about 6 years now. The dentist has to shove a bite block (child sized!) in at the back so I can keep it open while he works. Getting it to go in takes a little stretching first and then as it sits there, the pain in my jaw becomes agony and I need breaks. I still have all my wisdom teeth, so getting at the back teeth takes a little doing

    I’ve had one tooth break about two years back, which had been formerly filled from childhood and they ground it off and made me a crown. That was painful. And only a few other cavities besides. My dentist likes to try and tell me I need root canals, but I don’t believe him and tell him to just fill the cavity and see what happens. So far, no root canals needed. I had one of those planar scrapes and I think that was more agony than my cancer excision surgery (since you have to be awake for it, I guess).

  33. Mac @ 33:

    It’s pretty popular, actually. Most dentists do it to help calm the patients. The guy whose office I’m in now tells parents to bring in their kids’ favorite DVD so they can watch and be just a little more distracted while he works. A couple of our clients have LCD monitors or flat panel TVs mounted to the ceiling so the patient is looking right at it when they lay back.

    There’s also a burgeoning patient education market with two or three big players (affiliated with two or three big dental suppliers), so the doctors can use nice, professional video and animations to demonstrate what they’re doing to your teeth.

  34. My current is really decent; no stories there.

    I had issues with my last dentist. Not negative issues mind you, just issues.

    You see my last dentist was not only female, she was hot. So were all her hygenists. Given these facts, I actually found going to the dentist somewhat pleasant. As I told my co-workers, some gentleman of a more refined persuasion pay large amounts of money to have attractive women cause them pain; I got this subsidized by my dental insurance.

    Her being female actually helped in my dental care. Because of lack of insurance during later law school, I hadn’t seen a dentist in a few years; I was also really bad at brushing. She looked at my teeth the first time and started telling me off; she wagged her finger at me and told me: “you have really nice teeth, it would be a shame if I had to take them out of your head”. I got the message, started brushing and fifteen years later I still have all my teeth. I don’t think I would have listened to a man giving me the same message.


  35. My last dentist had DVD glasses. They’d plug into a DVD player and fit snugly on your face while the dentist worked away in your mouth. It was very cool. However, that is how I finally got around to watching the first half of Phantom Menace. I couldn’t tell you which was the worse torture: the dental work or watching Phantom Menace. I’m going with Phantom Menace.

  36. Like many others, flossing is my weakness. [I’ve been trying the little disposable mini-flossers (“really, it’s for my kids”) as an alternative. Moment of truth is April 29th]

    Does your dentist have the big flat screen television in his/her lobby, playing the Smile Channel? It’s an adver-edu-tainment designed to generate awareness of discretionary (read: not covered by insurance, high-margin) services offered by your practitioner. I’ve seen a similar concept in my ophthalmologist’s office – but with lasik instead of porcelain veneers.

  37. I thought my children might be spared the horrors of dental decay if I only I was vigilant enough with their oral care. My 6 y/o has been lucky thus far but, sadly, my 2 y/o is scheduled tomorrow for the first in a series of appointments to rid his teeth of caries discovered at his FIRST dental appointment. Apparently, the tendency to get cavities is genetic. :-(

  38. Before I left the Airforce, I had to have detailed physicals again. The dental exam showed that my wisdom teeth were growing strangely, and would cause trouble in the future. So the dentist there encouraged me to have them removed while I could get it done for free. I agreed. He gave me no novacaine or gas or anything like that, just one small white pill, which he wouldn’t give me until my wife was sitting in the waiting room. (He explained that after I had the pill in me, I couldn’t be trusted to either find my way home or wait for a ride.) It was wonderful. I don’t know what it was, but it didn’t dull pain. It just made me not care how anything felt. Even when he had to get up on his knees on the arms of the chair and chip one tooth out with a chisel, I just thought “cool!” Afterwards, I exhibited the behavior of a very happy drunk until I fell asleep at home.

  39. Get to my age and if the dentist doesn’t find new cavities, then they’ll find a reason to replace all those childhood fillings. Bad – the cost. Good – they don’t use silver fillings anymore so when I open up wide all my silver teeth are white now, except for the gold crown in the back.

  40. I have an…idiosyncratic…dental history. I had been going to the same dentist for 15 years because he Gets It, that my teeth aren’t normal and no amount of manipulation is going to make them normal. But I can eat and I’m not in pain, so whatever. Just basic cleanings and checking for cavities, that’s all I need.

    I moved a while back and finally broke down and started looking for a new dentist. I’d been avoiding it because I just knew what the new dentist would say. “Holy s*** your mouth is a mess and here’s everything we need to do to fix it!” I made an appointment, sat in the chair and explained, “Look, you’re going to want to do all this crap to me, and I’m going to say no. Just clean teeth and tell me if I have any cavities.”

    What happens? He says, “Your mouth is a mess and you need thousands of dollars of dental work to fix it!”

    Me: “No.”

    Dentist: “But…*rant*”

    Me: *cry* “No.”

    Sometimes I hate being right.

  41. About a year ago I had a wisdom tooth removed. I would’ve been able to keep the thing, if it hadn’t gotten a cavity in it. it was easier to yank the thing than fill it.

  42. I grew up having all my childhood dentistry (1960’s) performed by an old codger who refused to believe Novacaine could take 45 minutes to take effect. He’d shoot me up, wait 5 minutes, poke and say “Does that hurt?” I’d scream and he’d give me another shot. Five minutes later he’d repeat the process.

    After 3 shots he’d decide I was faking the pain (?) and go ahead and pull teeth/fill cavities as needed. He once pulled 6 “extra” teeth in one sitting. Almost worse than the pain was the fact that after I left his office the Novacaine would finally take effect, the huge dosage numbing my entire head. I’d have to slap myself to verify anything was still attached to my neck.

    I always thought “Painless Dentistry” was a euphemism. I was 26 before I found a dentist that would let me chill out in the waiting room while the anesthetic would take.

  43. My dentist tells me I need a crown. I am very resistant to the idea because it was, all of a sudden I need a crown!!! And crowns don’t just happen. They’re supposed to be a last resort when all five sides of your tooth are filled. I’ve only got three sides.

    My friend next door, who is a dentist in the Navy, doubts that I need a crown and suggests also that the fact my dentist has me come in for cleanings every four months instead of six months is, well, indicative of a particular kind of dentist.

  44. I have not had a cavity for decades. Yes, decades. On the other hand, I had a fifth wisdom tooth (go figure). Then there were the teeth I broke on 9/11 (which cost me, so far, about 10,000 in mostly unreimbursed expenses for removal, treatment, replacement, etc.).

    Two night guards, $480 each. Two, because the lower one kept knocking one of the tooth replacements out (doh, engineering principles not studied by dentist, I guess).

    Oh, and I haven’t started on “scaling”. Now, that’s “fun”!

  45. No real dental horror stories, tho I did need a root canal after getting hit by a hockey puck – a good story to have when tales of toughness & machismo are required.

    In college, it did take a trip to sugery to remove 4 impacted wisdom teeth, but I went right from there (w/Vicodin!) to Spring Break Daytona!

    Just go home & have a quiet dinner & dvd, although you migh want to avoid “Marathon Man.”

  46. I floss almost every day. I brush at least once, usually twice a day. I use Listerine and also a prescription fluoride toothpaste.

    Last time I went to the dentist, I had 6 cavities that they wanted to watch and probably fill soonish. 6 isn’t bad.

    The worst time was when I went a year between cleanings. I finally got insured again and when they xrayed me, I ended up with 27 cavities. 6 hours of being under general later, with 3 root canals, four crowns, and endless fillings… I spent a whole day dry heaving! wee.

    The moral of this story, kids? Floss, brush, and don’t have my genetics. (I’m terrified to find out what would happen if I didn’t brush… I’d probably have no teeth.)

  47. I’ve never liked the dentist. And I can point to the exact moment my hatred of them began.

    I was 7 when my mother took all of us to the dentist for a routine checkup. I had a baby tooth that needed to be pulled. Unfortunately my mother was sitting in the next room with one of my siblings so I was all alone. The dentist tried to get a handle on the tooth with some kind of instrument but couldn’t. He said it needed to get something a little larger.

    He left the room and came back with a big plumper’s wrench and said “Now open wide”. I think I started crying hysterically. My mother had to come over and calm me down because I wouldn’t let the guy touch me. He and my mother tried to tell me he was just joking but I was having none of that. I’ve never liked going to the dentist ever since.

  48. I’ve had a lot of dental work done the last few years. Drills no longer bother me. Like you, John, I risk ibuprofen addiction whenever those exposed nubs of bone I chew with are structurally altered. I’ve even had a wisdom tooth yanked. (Top one, so let’s not make this too impressive, shall we? Top wisdoms pop out easier than your kiddie teeth under a dentist’s forceps.)

    What I have come to hate is having my mouth pried open wider than it was designed for hours on end.

    But then I have to get the rest of my wisdom teeth pulled, so we’ll see what I hate about the dentist when that happens.

  49. Started going again two years ago because I cracked a wisdom tooth. In that time I’ve had that tooth extracted, two root canals with crowns, and four fillings. I think there maybe 12 teeth in my mouth that have not had work done on them.

    Never had a problem with any of the work done, very limited pain and all until this last round of fillings. Inevitably my dentist managed to hit a nerve with the needle every time he gave me the novocaine shot.

    Now I’m on edge about getting further work done.

  50. Back in my late teens, I went in to have my wisdom teeth pulled. The office forgot to tell me NOT to eat after midnight, so I had breakfast, and couldn’t be sedated. The specialist refused to do the procedure until I became quite insistent that they just numb me up and go. With the novocaine, and the nitrous, it was a bit of a surprise when the dentist swiveled in his chair and brought a scalpel to bear on my mouth. I reached up quite calmly and started to crush the small bones in his wrist. I had to be convinced not to hurt him and let him commence with the cutting and drilling and pulling to get the offending teeth out.

    Of course, there’s also the time I had a root canal done after having turned down anesthesia. That was interesting.

  51. My dad is a periodontist (does what James Goodman @4 describes), so he did some home dental care for us at times.

    Like when all four of my lower front baby teeth needed to be pulled. At the same time.

    Or when my sister threw an ice tea glass at me, broke my upper front baby tooth, it became infected, and he had to chase me around the neighborhood before he could pull the tooth. (I got $2.00 for that one!)

    My best story is non-Dad. When I was about 26, I got a filling and unbeknownst to me or the dentist there was a small finger of nerve that jutted out towards the outside of the tooth. Where the filling went.

    Once the Novocaine wore off, Oh…My…God. Every breath, every shift of my jaw, every movement of my tongue was metal-bar-in-my-brain agony. Luckily, I got in touch with the dentist who met me at the office (his kids in tow), numbed me up (thank you, oh thank you), got what he could out, packed it with rubber and scheduled a root canal.

    The root canal itself, when I was properly numb, was really interesting especially because I apparently have deep tooth roots. I swear it felt like he was scraping my skull by the end of it.

    – yeff

  52. My brother never brushed and had things growing on his teeth, but never got cavities. I brushed and had a cavity every time I went to the dentist. I finally was put on a prescription toothpaste with more flouride and that seems to help.

    So those of you who have never had a cavity? I hate you.

    But here are my two tales of dental woe, complete with x-rays.

  53. When I was younger, I had three rounds of oral surgery to expose/fix/draw down a tooth which was lodged in my sinuses. I also had eleven teeth extracted, including my wisdom teeth — all of which were impacted — and five years of braces, with an additional 2 years of headgear and retainers.

    Now I’m scared to death to go to the dentist, and I haven’t been in ten years. I’m almost certain that I have half a dozen cavities, and I only recently have reacquired dental insurance; so I know I need to go … but I’m waiting until, er, the end of convention season here …

    Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  54. I’ve had 2 root canals and 2 crowns to date. My nephew Ian was born shortly after the 2nd root canal, and as I went into the hospital room where my sister was in labor, I tried to empathize by saying “I heard a root canal is like labor – I’m so here for you”. Needless to say, saying ANYTHING but how great she is to a woman in labor and sabotaged by hormones, drugs, and pain was not…wise.

    At the end of this month, I now look forward to the removal of 4 wisdom teeth in a preemptive strike against future tooth decay in my 70s. I’m amused to realize you use the same things to treat oral pain. Ice cream will see me through psychologically and ibuprofen will see me through physically. I’ve lined up friends to bolster my flagging spirits and ignore my battered face that particular weekend.

  55. Why, I was just there yesterday in fact. I had to have a loose false tooth removed, which basically meant two hours of the dentist using the drill to slowly scrape away the metal and bonding on the back of the tooth next to it. I had to have him re-up the Novocaine when I started to feel said scraping. Now, both because of the scraping and because the tooth had been covered with metal for eight years, everything that is even a smidge colder than lukewarm makes me jerk around in pain.
    It’s awesome.

  56. Four wisdom teeth pulled in one visit, because my darling husband did it that way and went to work the day after. Too bad I forgot he’s the guy who can walk until his shoes literally ooze blood before he notices he’s got a blister.
    I spent 2 weeks moaning with a bag of frozen peas on either side. All four were impacted.

    Worst was when the novocaine ran out halfway through the root canal.

    I don’t see that dentist anymore.

  57. I had extensive dental work done after a car accident in the 1970s. In the middle of the process, I attended a science fiction conference in Denver, where I asked Harlan Ellison to autograph my copy of Paingod, telling him that it I read it, appropriately enough, during a 4-hour treatment in the dentist’s chair. I’m too immature to see a dentist regularly now.

  58. Unscathed?! That is the least of all worries that should happen when going to the dentist. Dentists’ are one of the most wanted people in the whole world, and the police don’t even know it yet. I am one of the soul survivors of a root-canalling mayhem and I was only in there for a check up! It was the most horrible, yet at the same time, the most exhilarating experiences of my life. When it was all going down, I was surrounded by a profusion of pusillanimous patients. It was insane. I am not able to say that I escaped without a scratch however. I am able to say that I saved the day. All I have to say is that everyone should beware of the dentist.

  59. Dave@ 35:

    It’s pretty popular, actually. Most dentists do it to help calm the patients. The guy whose office I’m in now tells parents to bring in their kids’ favorite DVD so they can watch and be just a little more distracted while he works. A couple of our clients have LCD monitors or flat panel TVs mounted to the ceiling so the patient is looking right at it when they lay back.

    I don’t understand it, I fear it, therefore I attack it with a stick!

    Seriously though– this makes perfect sense to me. However, if she wanted ME to be calm, she ought to have been looking at my teeth, toward which she was wielding a pointy metal spike, and left the Daytime TV viewing to me! :-D

  60. I am almost 47 and have no cavities, some of this is genetics and som the result of a mom who had been a dental hygienist (oh and my town had fluoridated water). My husband has horrible teeth and has had two root canals and other horrid experiences.

    My youngest child has very bad teeth as a result of little or no prenatal care and malnutrition. We adopted him when he was a toddler and he is way behind in losing teeth 9he’s 9 now) but has had a lot of work done and just this morning had two cavities and a broken (baby) tooth dealt with. The dentist is so great that Noah is still unaware that injections are given to numb the site. The appointment was still a little grueling and to top it off we went to see his doc for what i thought were allergies and turns out to be chicken pox. Yikes!!!

  61. I’m a teacher. I have insurance. I see my dentist every year. During my last checkup, he informed me that I should wear a mouthguard when I sleep as my teeth-grinding has taken 10 years off the life of my teeth. Gotta love my job. sigh.

  62. I’m 51. I’ve never had a cavity. I chipped my left front incisor in a face plant on a tennis court at age 8 which is the worst thing that’s ever happened to my teeth. I still have all of ’em. Never been shot, never been drilled, no impactions, none of that horrible stuff. I brush once or twice a day with a HARD/Firm brush- I alternate brushings between using the hard ones and the firm ones- right now I’m switching off between 4 brushes. I don’t floss nearly as much as I should either. I’m a bad, bad man. I haven’t been to see a dentist in forever- not this millennium, not in the previous decade. I don’t have any real fear of dentists, I just try to take pretty good care of my teeth.
    I attribute my good fortune to Genetic Superiority.

  63. I have a combination of the world’s worst gag reflex (so bad, in fact, that it takes me twice as long to eat because I’m overly conscious of choking) and panic attacks. I need dental work done to repair a lifetime of tooth-grinding, but I would have to be fully sedated . . . and with no dental insurance (and no money trees growing nearby) that isn’t going to happen.

    Otherwise, I brush two or three times a day, use a pre-rinse and a post-rinse, and floss — though not as diligently as I should. I’ve found that liquid Tylenol works well for mouth pain (from the aforementioned grinding).

  64. Hmm, You should all feel very lucky.
    I live in a country where we have a free school dental service. I’m 52 and still live in terror of the dentist as a direct result of that which we refer to as “the murder house”. They were witches the women in the 1960’a and 1970’s who ‘cared’ for our teeth. Our nation’s dental life was ruined by a free school dental service provided by sadists without the provision of any pain relief.

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