Dentist visit rife with mishaps

Column by Sarah O’Rourke

Sarah O'Rourke-w2000-h2000Going home for spring break is always the perfect time to get things done. Things that don’t involve homework, of course. Like getting a haircut, getting your car fixed, going to the eye doctor and of course, the dentist.

I know a ton of people absolutely freak out about going to the dentist. It makes sense, because it’s awkward having a stranger scrape and drill in your mouth. Surprisingly, I’ve always been pretty neutral about going to the dentist. It’s just something I do every six months, and I don’t look forward to or dread going to the appointments. But this spring break, I had an entirely new experience because I was switching to a new dentist.

When I first walked into the dentist’s office, I was greeted like normal, and I handed over my paperwork. I was glad to do the paperwork ahead of time (the forms were online) because it always takes so long, and they need weird things that I don’t know off the top of my head, like my dad’s social security number, for insurance purposes.

And I didn’t want to spend any more time at the office than I needed to. Spring break is only a week long, so you can’t lose time being at the dentist.

Then the receptionist asked if I wanted coffee while I waited for my appointment. First off, no. This was clearly a trick question. Why didn’t they just offer Fun Dip or sugar cubes? Were they trying to trick me into taking coffee? I just brushed my teeth. So I politely said, “No, thanks,” and proceeded to sit in the waiting room and watch a soap opera on the television with no volume.

After about a 10-minute wait, I was finally called back for my appointment. The dental hygienist introduced herself and asked if she could take X-rays to start the appointment.

I was fine with that since X-rays don’t usually take long. But then she said, “These might take a while, so we might not have time to clean your teeth.” Um … no. Not OK.

The only reason I came to the dentist was to get my teeth cleaned.

I know x-rays are important and all, but are they going to do any good if my teeth aren’t getting cleaned? I let her know that I wanted my teeth cleaned, and she said I had such a cute, petite mouth that she should have time to clean my teeth. I still don’t know if that was a compliment or not. Oh well.

She took 18 x-rays and shoved these films into my “petite” mouth and basically tore my gums into pieces. What a delightful experience.

She played some channel on the Food Network and kept asking what I thought about the recipes. All I would say was, “uh huh” because it’s kind of hard to talk with someone’s hands in your mouth.

She finished in about 20 minutes, and called the dentist in to do the final check. He literally looked at my teeth for 30 seconds and said, “See ya in six months!” And with that, I was on my way out.

Reflecting on this experience, I have learned several things about trips to the dentist. First, don’t fall for their set-ups when they offer you coffee. Second, take charge of your appointment and tell them why you are there…to get your teeth cleaned. Third, NEVER go the dentist while you are hungry, because they will play the Food Network, and it will make you frustrated that you can’t eat.

O’Rourke is a first-year pharmacy student and can be reached at

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