of these posts reminded me of going to the dentist when I was five years
old.I don’t remember much from this
age, but I will never forget my dentist.At five years old I always seemed to have four or five cavities which
needed filling.I never had a toothache,
and half of these teeth were due to fall out in a reasonably short time, yet
they had to be drilled and filled.
cavities were never located by x-ray.I
don’t remember a dentist using x-rays until many years later.The dentist poked around with a scary looking
pick and any tooth irregularity became a cavity.Looking back I wonder if in fact I had all
these cavities, or were they really just natural dents in my teeth.Whatever, they were deemed drillable.Here is where the truly memorable part of
visiting the dentist comes in.
1951, the dentist did not have a high speed drill which simultaneously squirted
water to keep the drill bit cool.No,
the dentists then had a big old machine which when started up did not make the
high whining whir of the drills today, this machine sounded like the putt-putt
of an outboard motor in idle.The drill
may as well have been operated by a foot pedal.
was done without benefit of Novocain.This was either because it was not yet accepted procedure, or because
mom didn’t want to spend the extra money.I suspect since there was no insurance coverage it was the later.
friggin drill just about fit in my mouth and it was s-l-o-w.When the dentist pressed on the tooth, the
drill slowed down even more.It sounded
like a car trying to start on a cold morning.
hurt.Criminently it hurt, and there was
no stopping it.Apparently when a
dentist asks if it hurts and a five year old with two pounds of tool in his
mouth says, “Oompth math urghnts ooo munch” the answer sounds just like,
“That’s ok Doc keep drilling.”
clearly remember my dentist’s chair side manner.As he leaned his weight on me so I couldn’t
move, and he ignored my plea to “Pleeph opit it hurpes o murnch, he played a
game of kill the cavity.
one right behind the couch (like my mouth was a room in a house) “Varoom,
putt-putt” smoke actually poured from my mouth and I could smell the smell of
burning teeth.Yes, burning teeth have a
smell, and it is not pretty.The sound
of that low speed torture machine of a drill, the smell of smoke and teeth and
the dentist’s playful demeanor will be forever etched in my mind.
a five year old it was all I knew about the dentist, just something you had to
go through, something everyone went through.If I had to face the same procedure today, I would pass, let the tooth
rot, and yank it when it hurt.
could not be nearly as bad as that slow-speed drill on my wide awake
un-medicated five year old tooth.