The Torturous Dental Examination

Dental ExamDo you know what the suffix “ist” means? It means “painful teeth.”  Dentist is a good example, along with orthodontist and periodontist.  A pacifist, for instance, is someone who’s teeth are still recovering from a dental/orthodontal/periodontal visit, and therefore chooses a path of nonviolence (as any hit to the teeth would push the pain threshold to the “mortally wounded” level). 

So, by definition, it is no mystery why kids hate the dentist.  But teens have even more reason to hate a dental visit. 

Ignoring the great Google, I’ve never seen or passed a “Teen Dentist;” it appears that the only dentists are for kids and adults.  Maybe that tradition started in the middle ages: anyone with teeth as a kid (needing a child dentist) would be dead of tooth decay by the teen years, and the genetic mutation/exceptions, whose teeth didn’t come in until later, the adult years, needed an adult dentist. 

So, the first dilemma for us teens is which dentist to choose.  You can visit a pediatric dentist, leading to many embarrassing problems, because, after all, you are ‘adult’ by cool-ness measurement.  Or, you can visit an adult dentist, where they no longer bother to sound proof the walls (meaning you can hear the anguished screams) or disguise the torture devices with flowery and seasonal decorations.

In my area, at least, the preferred choice is to stick with the child dentist until you’re off to college, so I’ll go into detail on the child dentist side. 

Chronologically, your first hardship starts with the waiting room.  Again, you have two choices, one child, the other adult.  You can play with the plastic blocks that have visible bacterial growth, or you can read the “Business Insider” magazine.  If you’re lucky, you brought a smartphone, so you can update your status as “Divide my possessions among all of my friends.” 

Then, if you are dying of boredom, you can help your parent fill out the medical questionnaire (this one being slightly less embarrassing than the one at the doctor’s office).  No, you don’t have any allergies.  No, you aren’t taking any medication at the time-gum doesn’t count.  Yes, you received a traumatizing head injury since the last visit, and no longer have a brain and right ear.  Yes, you are having a specific problem; it feels like someone is drilling for oil in your mouth. 

After a short wait, the length of which can be predicted by the total % of the plastic blocks covered in bacteria, you will be brought to the dentist chair.  It will resemble a sci-fi captain’s chair, as the first sci-fi movies ever made had extremely low budgets. 

As the examination starts, a light will be shined into your eyes, on the reasoning that if you are temporarily blind you won’t see them swapping in power tools for the implements you saw as you walked in. 

Required at the child dentist visit is ‘soothing conversation.’  Supposedly, it takes your mind off of the mining/digging/helicopter rescue mission taking place in your mouth.  However, the largest problem with this is the fact that you can’t safely respond. If you move your jaw even a bit, you can be sure that the dental assistant will slip and give you the previously unavailable option of detaching your jaw during Halloween. 

The only way you can safely respond to the questions is with pitched tones that exit through your nose.  This can make it difficult to convey complex thoughts, which is why the conversation sticks to questions such as, “Did you go on vacation this summer?”, “Do you like swimming?”, and “How should the US fix its budget?” 

As a side note, you can tell if someone spends a lot of time at the dentist’s if they are pinching their nose as they make sounds, allowing them to communicate better.  Either that or they are trying to keep the toothpaste from coming out their nose.  

The basic examination usually consists of at least five parts: the dye, the brushing, the flossing, the fluoride, and the X-ray.  

The Dye

This is the first part of your exam, as it shows where you are not cleaning your teeth.  It is a colored dye that supposedly only sticks to plaque, but, if it doesn’t find enough plaque, will also just form random patterns so that you can still be admonished on your uncivilized dental habits. 

The Brushing

The brush will appear, at first, to be a harmless-looking circle, but you shouldn’t be fooled. A combination of taste, pressure, and sound (like a 4-D movie theater, I suppose) has been perfected to send waves up and down your spine.

The Flossing

The floss is the same as floss you’d find in a store (as opposed to the toothbrushes which are illegal to sell directly to consumers under some gun-control laws).  However, the method is entirely different.  First, according to the ‘dental expert,’ you have to tie complex sailor’s knots around your fingers.  Then you should spend five minutes between each tooth, rubbing back and forth with the floss until you see sparks. 

The Fluoride

I’m not really sure how this benefits you, but they do it anyway.  Maybe it works on your gag reflex, so you don’t choke when trying to floss the way they demonstrated.

Anyways, you’ll get a variety of flavors to choose from, all of which taste extremely similar.  Play it safe, though, so don’t choose something like “moldy orange rind.”  Then, you’ll keep a foamy tray of the stuff in your mouth for 60 seconds.  The best part of that is you get to hold the little mouth-sized vacuum cleaner, which, if nobody’s watching, you can use to drain the nearby fishtank. 

The X-ray

This differs from the normal x-ray, in that you have to bite on some film.  Then, a metal object will encompass your head, zapping what’s left of your brain.  When you finish, you’ll be presented with a black and white photo, as color technology hasn’t developed in this area yet. 

At this point, your mouth should be tingling, hurting, stinging, two or three different colors, and have a generally unpleasant feeling.  Now, the doctor will look at your bite, say, “Looks good,” and get paid twice as much for it as his/her assistant does for the exam. 

Because you are at a kid’s dentist, you are allowed to pick out two prizes.  According to the ADA (American Dental Association), the prizes must be small, easily breakable, made in China, and worth less than whatever it says on the back of gift cards (something like 0.01 of one cent). 

As you exit, you will also receive a dental health report card.  It will have a number of boxes checked, along with some nice illustrations of teeth.  Most of the boxes say things like: “Discovered a new species of bacteria on teeth,” or “Patient should brush at least 5 hours a day.” 

Finally, you’re outside, escaping into the cool breeze (which also hurts your teeth at this point).  However, there’s no reason to show any emotion but the default flat expression, because you’ll be back in six months. 

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Comments

  1. this. is. fantastic.

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