Darth Vader and visits to the dentist

Tuesday, June 18, 2002


As someone with an obsession for sugar and sweets and a fear of needles and other sharp, pointy objects, a dental appointment sounds about as appealing to me as a vacation in Afghanistan.

It never fails.

I get in the big reclining chair and a Darth Vader-looking creature with big, plastic goggles and a mask that covers his nose and mouth starts prodding at my gums with a curvy metal stick.

Then he proceeds to jab the pointy end of the stick into each and every crevice in my teeth. When I jump he looks at me and asks in a muffled voice, "Oh, does that hurt dear?"

I feel like shouting out in pain, but instead I just utter, "Yesth," as best I can, considering there's a spit-sucker resting under my tongue.

It just gets worse from there.

When a tooth-brushing with what seems like a high-powered tartar blaster makes my gums bleed, they all say, "Hmm. You must have sensitive gums."

"Maybe if you weren't stabbing them with a large metal object, I wouldn't have this problem," I think.

After the cleaning, my mouth is rinsed with freezing cold water.

That's why for the past 18 months I have avoided going to the dentist at all costs.

I figured if I brushed my teeth three times a day like I'm supposed to, I wouldn't need to go.

Such was not the case.

My oldest sister, Jenn, tried to warn me years ago.

When she got out of college she didn't go to the dentist for a long time. Then, when she finally did go, she found out she had all of these problems and had to get crowns and root canals and all sorts of other things.

She even had to get braces for the second time in her life.

I did not heed her advice, and I now have gaping holes in two of my molars and, as I found out Monday, four other smaller holes in my teeth.

When I got to the dentist office, I knew of the two big ones, and had an idea there was at least one smaller one lurking around in the dark corners of my mouth so I made sure to tell the dentist it had been a long time since I had seen a person of her profession. I thought she might take pity on me when she looked inside my mouth and saw the damage.

She was nice about it and told me I wasn't the only one.

During my visit I realized my earlier stated problem with dentists might not have been a fear of the profession in general, but of my old Darth Vader dentist.

The dentist I went to Monday was the first new dentist I have been to since I was about 14 years old.

By the time I left, I felt like I had found the secret door leads right to a wonderful world of pain-free dentistry.

Sure they did the normal poke, jab and scrape with the metal stick, but it wasn't rough like with Darth.

Even better than that was the fact that the gloves this new dentist wore were pink and had a sweet smell like they were covered in cake frosting. Darth had plain off-white colored gloves that tasted and smelled like, well, gloves.

Also great at my new dentist office was the fact that the people were all friendly and helpful.

Before Monday's visit, I had never had to take care of any insurance issues or anything because I was still covered by my parent's insurance and they took care of all of that.

I think the people in my new dentist's office could tell I was new at the whole insurance thing, so they grabbed all of the forms and took care of them for me.

When I left the office my gums were a little sore from the flossing and the poking, but I felt a lot better knowing my next four visits (that's what it's going to take to fill all the holes) won't be so bad.

Heather Kronmueller is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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