When I go to the dentist, it’s a horror show. I’m so scared, I usually cancel 2-3 appointments before committing. Then I’ll pop whatever expired pain medication I can find in my medicine cabinet and weave my way over there on foot. It hurts like hell anyway, and I usually come home totally demoralized because I’m a sucky flosser with bleeding gums = big fat failure.
Let’s contrast my miserable dental exams with my daughter’s first visit to the pediatric dentist.
First, everyone at the front desk tells her how cute she is, and that pumps up her mood.
Then, during the brief wait before her appointment, she’s provided with toys, books (did you know Dora goes to the dentist too?) and art supplies. At my dentist, I’m lucky to get my hands on a three-year-old back issue of Women’s World.
The dental office is bright and cheery with a TV mounted on the ceiling playing Madagascar, so Viv is totally distracted. Hey grown-up dentists, would it kill you to play a little Bridget Jones’s Diary for the rest of us?
The dental assistant lets Viv touch all the instruments first, so they don’t seem so scary. Whereas my dental hygienist likes to stuff my mouth with an excavator, chisel, mirror, suction and gauze and then ask, “Do anything fun this weekend?”
They give Viv snazzy sunglasses to block the harsh glare of the dentist’s light. Might as well be 3D glasses for Madagascar. Look at this kid–she’s in dental ecstasy.
And they offer kid-friendly toothpaste flavors that apparently are yummy. Hey big people dentists – where’s my strawberry margarita toothpaste? Don’t hold back on the tequila.
It takes about two minutes to count, polish and check Viv’s teeth, with the hygienist reassuring “almost done!” every 10 seconds or so. I’m usually good for 40 minutes of plaque removal by jackhammer before I start screaming “I need a time out!”, which just comes out as a muffled moan and goes unanswered.
At the end of her exam, Viv receives an “excellent” report card. I’ve never left the dentist’s office with anything but a flossing lecture and threats of root canal.
Afterwards, she gets to pick a toy, like we’re at Dave & Busters. My dentist seems to think a free toothbrush is big fun. I’d rather have a Matchbox car any day of the week.
A giraffe escorts us out. Just because.
So let’s recap:
Pediatric dentist = compliments, crayons, movies, cute sunglasses, excellent report card, presents, giraffe.
Adult dentist = blood, pain, stern warnings and the occasional drill. Is there any contest here? I’ll see ya at the kiddie dentist, posing as a teen with horrible sun damage and outdated slang. Later, skater.