A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Dental Damn

It’s official. I am a magnet for crazy people.

I recently went to a new dentist for a routine cleaning and checkup, and it was beyond bizarre, even for me.

I should tell you, first of all, that I have a great deal of anxiety when it comes to dental work. And by “great deal of anxiety” I mean Cuckoo for Coco Puffs. I get super sweaty just thinking about it. The smells, the sounds, the vibration of the drill…it all makes me want to curl into the fetal position and die a quick death.

Sometimes before I go to the dentist I drink a little. I once asked my neighbor/BFF Tammy to drive me to the dentist and back. She did it. No questions asked. Although I think she suspected I was up to something when I showed up at her house with Margarita salt in my hair.

If I’m going to have major work done, the dentist will prescribe me some Valium. Me likee. Sadly, it’s always just enough to survive one appointment: 2 little pills.

The last dentist I went to gave me a bum crown. Then for three frickin’ years every time I went back for a check up and told her “I can’t chew with the right side of my mouth,” she’d say, “Well sometimes it takes crowns a while to settle down.”

Three years. No chew. Don’t get me started. Too late. Now the left side of my jaw is strong enough to crack walnuts and the right side can’t even hold a straw. That’s effed up. Time for a new dentist.

So I started asking around and my friend Monica who is borderline obsessive when it comes to her health told me she LOVED her dentist. She had to have a root canal once and it was such a great experience that she baked the dentist and his staff brownies the next day.

Hand to God. Who does that? Monica, that’s who.

Sold! I wanted THAT guy. No more Dr. Bad Crown for me!

So I made the appointment and headed to town to meet Dr. Sweet Tooth.

It started normally enough…new patient forms, musak version of Chicago’s Greatest Hits piping in from somewhere above, that weird dentist office smell in the air.

Soon I was fully reclined in the coldest room I’ve ever experienced. My nervous sweat was forming into pit-cicles and every hair on my body was sticking straight up.

The hygienist appears and says, “Oh, are you cold? Would you like a blanket?”

“Yes please!” I chatter.

“I just want to go over your info with you….it says here that you are not currently taking any medications. Is that correct?”

Now remember, I’m nervous. And you know what happens when I get nervous? Verbal diarrhea, bad jokes, and TMI.

So I swallow and very calmly state, “Yes, that’s correct, I’m drug-free. Got anything you can share?”

“Really?” (She laughs nervously) “What are you looking for?”

“Oh whatever! I’m easy! Valium? Nitrous oxide? Got any anti-depressants?” I’m obviously kidding. Obviously! (Kinda.)

“Actually I do!  I’m on Lexapro.” my hygienist stage whispers unapologetically, and a little too close for my liking. “I had a really hard time getting pregnant and I think it really messed with my hormones, and then one day, I’m at the gyno, and wham-bam, I just start crying! The next thing I know, she’s handing me all kinds of free samples!  But nothing I’ve tried seems to work, so maybe I should see a psychiatrist. Is that what you do? See a psychiatrist? That’s a really good idea. You know, I’m starting to think that my gyno is probably just handing out whatever the drug reps have recently dropped off and that she doesn’t really know what any of the meds actually do. Do you know what I mean? I have a good friend who’s a nurse and she thinks I’m bipolar, but really highly functioning.  One of the meds I tried made me so crazy I didn’t sleep for 6 days!  But by the seventh day I was so tired that I couldn’t take it anymore, so I went off it.  Now I’m on Lexapro, but I don’t think it is working.

At this point, my spider senses are tingling and telling me to get the hell out of there. But I’m reclined and covered with a blanket, and the TV positioned above my head is scrolling a can’t-look-away-story about a toddler who was eaten by a pack of wild dogs. Or maybe it’s about a toddler and a package of recalled hot dogs. Damn Fox News. It’s scrolling so fast! Who can tell?!

So naturally, this is when Heidi Hygienist reaches into a drawer and pulls out a very sharp metal instrument, supposedly for scraping. And I am lying there thinking, do I really want a supposedly-highly-functioning-improperly-medicated-sleep-deprived-bipolar-person-with-hormone-problems hacking away in my mouth with a sharp tool? No, I do not. But what can I do? I am frozen with fear and icy cold sweat.

She is scraping away and asking me if I drink coffee or red wine. (“Yessh,” I incoherently whimper).  But it doesn’t end there…as she’s working, she stops periodically and just blurts things out like, “GOD!  I feel so stupid!  Of course a gyno doesn’t know anything about brain chemistry!”  (scrape, scrape, scrape) And, “Do you have depression and anxiety? I do! I get so mad sometimes I just feel like I’m going to explode.”  (And she makes this crazy wide-eyed-rage-face like I do when I catch my four year old coloring the carpet with my new lipstick).  I am scared for my teeth and my life.

Eons later, the dentist finally appears.  He greets me quickly and peers into my mouth. Less than two minutes later he leaves and informs the hygienist that he needs me to come back for a longer appointment so he can do some diagnostics.  Looks like a root canal is in my near future.

But definitely not at that place.

Maybe my bad crown isn’t so bad after all.

brushing between meals,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Alison@Mama Wants This

    Maybe she knows you have a blog and just wanted to give you fodder.

    How on earth do you attract such weirdos?

    How’s your teeth by the way? 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      I totally ask for it with my unstable aura…and also the t-shirt I wear that says “I {heart} CRAZY PEOPLE.”

      You’re so sweet to ask, Alison. My bad crown actually did eventually settle down! Gulp. Sorry first dentist…I never should have left her.

  2. Fiveogrrl

    My ex is a dental hygienist. Those bitches make like 35-40 bucks a fucking hour!!!!! You should hear about the nasty horrifically disgusting shit she has scraped out of people’s mouths…. So gross that Paula Deen wouldn’t even ride it durin’ a hawthorn flash. Hit me up if you want another dentists info. I actually like mine, and the one that the ex works at is even better, now I can’t go there 🙁 fuckin tooth drama. Bitches.

    • The Bearded Iris

      I’m glad to hear it’s a good paying job…’cuz you couldn’t pay me a vajillion dollars to be all up in someone’s mouth. I’d rather be a gloveless proctologist at a leper colony during Burrito Week. I wonder if that was your ex who was scaring the bejeezus out of me? JK. Email me your dentist info, mamacita!

      • Barefeet InTheKitchen

        Really? A gloveless proctologist? Sheesh, Iris, tell us how you really feel. That visual is beyond nasty. Much as I hate the thought, I’d rather scrape teeth. Wait a sec, I wrote that and actually got a chill. Now I am completely creeped out by both professions.

        • The Bearded Iris

          Oh stop it. You’ve stuck your hands in worse things…don’t lie. Ever skin a whole chicken?

  3. Heather

    1) Did she bake “special” brownies for her dentist?
    2) Did she use your plastic knife tip to cut them?
    3) I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the dentist, specifically mine, and in a totally unhealthy way. I would go have my teeth cleaned every single day if he’d let me. I’m sure he has a restraining order against me, as we speak.
    4) You should have kicked that girl right in the snatch and run for your life!!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      1.) I’m sure all her brownies are “special.” You mean really delicious and made with love, right? 😉
      2.) Not sure she knows about the plastic knife trick, but bless your heart for remembering! That trick works like a CHARM!!
      3.) Is your dentist hot or do you just have oral issues? (Or both…wow…crazy combo! Restraining order! hahahaha!)
      4.) You are the second person in my world in the last 24 hours to publicly espouse snatch kicking. Is the vaj kick the new throat punch? What the what?

  4. Sue from Livin In Duckville

    Ahhh, Iris…. I think we really are Soul Sisters at heart….. I can’t stand the dentist either…. I turn into a blubbering idiot…. And the only crown (thank God) I had done, had to be re-done because it wasn’t right….. Awful…. I grabbed the dentist’s wrist in a death-grip (when he was working on it the 2nd time) because it still hurt…. he ended up giving me 5 shots of Novocaine before I couldn’t feel anything… And the dentist office smell? WTH!! What is up with that? Do all dentist offices get that in bulk in a spray can?

    A hint for next time…. take your ipod…. I told them they’d have to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention, I didn’t want to see ’em or hear ’em. I kept my eyes shut until it was done & my music turned up loud enough so I couldn’t hear the drill or them talking about stuff…

    • The Bearded Iris

      iPod!!! Brilliant. And so much easier than tequila.

      • AC

        My vote is for iPod AND TEQUILA!!!! Uh wait, no. Tequila makes me really mean. So…. VODKA!

        Here’s to not white-knucklin’ it in the dentist chair!

  5. Ann

    I feel your pain! I sweat like I’m running a marathon at the dentist and I don’t run unless I’m being chased by a very large dog or someone has said the magic word…BUFFET! Anyway, I need a new dentist too and was going to ask for the name of this Dr. Sweet Tooth but I think I’ll just buy some more floss instead and wait a while.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Holy CRAP, Ann…I just snorted OUT LOUD at your “magic word…BUFFET!” line. I’ll email you the name of Dr. Sweet Tooth… I do like him and I think he got rid of the cuckoo hygienist! PTL.

  6. Katybeth

    Looney tunes lady!!
    Not long ago, I made a root canal at appointment at a new place. Nobody likes a root canal but I am pretty relaxed about the dentist-so I showed up expecting the best. First the place had signs posting rules everywhere–no cell, no eating, no drinking, do not steal magazines. I’m not big on rules. Next nobody greeted me-I hated that. Before the procedure the hygienist was on her 3rd try just to take an X-ray of the area and I had this thought “NO.” So I just said, “NO. I do not want you to do my root canal.” I then unclipped my bib which tangled in my hair and stumbled to the door with my cell phone playing circus music. I was shaking when I got to the car but soon was giddy with relief. It felt great to just say NO and act in my own best interest. Glad you did not make the 2nd appointment–on the other hand think of the blog post possibilities???

    • The Bearded Iris

      I am so impressed with you, Katybeth, as always. You have BALLZ, girl. I need to have the word “NO” tattooed on the inside of my eyelids so I can remember to say it more often. (Better late than never….ahem, college years!)

    • Mary

      I am in awe. I want to learn to be assertive like you. So glad you broke free!

      And Iris, I’m with you, girl. I just totally pushed back my dentist appointment that was scheduled next week, because the dry sweats were coming thinking about it a week away! Ahhh …

  7. Megan at declutterdaily

    I think you should just request a different hygienist if your friend really like the dentist. Good dentists are hard to find.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Funny you should mention…that’s exactly what I did. I do love that dentist, and I have a much better, saner, less chatty hygienist now. I was just too tired writing about it so I needed to end the story and Go the F to sleep! 😛

  8. Megan at declutterdaily

    And haven’t you found that hygienists ALWAYS talk to much? I’ve heard about several hygenists conception troubles. Weird huh?

    • The Bearded Iris

      WORD! And I’m always so self conscious that they are yapping away while scraping the fur off my teeth and thinking, damn this bitch shoulda worn her retainer.

  9. Melissa Gilbert

    I am not a huge fan of the dentist either. My poor dentist… he looks like he’s 12 and not very socially inept. They usually give me laughing gas if I have anything more than a cleaning done. Last time I went, they gave me the gas and it was sometime in November and all I remember is giggling and telling the dentist he was like Santa and his hygienists were like elves and then I asked if I could sit on his lap. They do give presents (toothbrushes and floss) after all…

    *raises my mouthwash cup to toast!*

    • The Bearded Iris

      Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! I love this story Melissa!!! OMG, I can just see you asking to sit on his lap and him being all flustered in a socially inept 12 year old boy kind of way! I’m going to be laughing about this all day! THANK YOU!!!

    • Billie

      The last time I had a cavity fixed they gave me gas. It was turned up a little high. I wasn’t about to tell them about it either. I was way to busy collecting coins and popping in/out of tubes in my own real life Super Mario video game. They made me sit an extra 10 minutes when they were done to help clear my head. I stumbled to the car and sat for 10 more before I would trust myself to put the keys in the ignition. BEST APPOINTMENT EVER!

  10. Gina

    OMFG you are too funny!!! LOVE LOVE your blog!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Gina! And I LOVE LOVE that your blog is called “Tainted Fibers.” It sounds so naughty and wrong, but I bet it feels so right. I’mma check it out right now! (Heh heh heh…I said taint)

  11. Julie @ mamamash

    I can’t stand the taste of pulverized bits of my own teeth. I’m not even going to hazard a guess as to the last time I saw the dentist!

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, I hate that too! But get your hot-redheaded-ass to a dentist, honey!!! You’ll hate the taste of PolyGrip even more than you hate pulverized teeth. Trust Iris…I’m watching two of my favorite old men struggle through geriatric teeth issues. It is heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time.

  12. Allysgrandma

    I’m only halfway through and laughing so hard I have to stop….bad to eat breakfast and read Iris’ posts at the same time….cause for choking.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Cheryl. You are too good to me. Don’t choke on your Fiber All…I would miss you too much.

  13. oneshabbychick

    Perhaps hygienists gravitate to that job because they get a captive audience – someone who will actually listen! We def. have our share of kooky yappy hygienists at our dentist. Not psychotic, just kooky 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, I think you are onto something there, sister. I know (of) one hygienist…her kid was on my kid’s baseball team once. Never. Stopped. Talking. Damn, that woman is perky! Maybe they are trained in hygienist school to yap yap yap to help keep the patients’ minds off the scraping? Interesting technique. I’ll take the iPod, thanks.

  14. Allysgrandma

    Okay I have successfully finished another absolutely hilarious post. I hate the dentist too and I hate to fly. So here is what I do. When I am at the dentist, I medidate on the fact that at least I am not in an airplane and when I am in an airplane, I think….at least I am not at the dentist. And then I got through a cervical MRI that was 40 minutes of sheer terror and claustrophobia, so I can throw that into the mix too now.

    PS I right now have an airline itenerary in my in box. I had a stomachache and had to have a BM just trying to book the flight. I get sick and sweaty just THINKING about flying across country (August 9th-August 30) Humboldt to Sacramento, Sacramento to Dulles (aaaahhhh Washington DC) to Savannah!

    PSS I have Valium lots of them….heehhheehhehhe. My rheumatologist gave them to me to sleep……it works…….really well….

    PPSS I also have Ativan my internist(both in same office) gave me for flying…..so I have to ask my doctor if I can mix benzo’s or stick with the Valium….

    PPPSS I love my dentist, he sings along with the piped in Chicago or 70s music and I hum along too, or he tells me about his flowers or him and the assistant gossip about people (small town) and it is usually a not too bad of experience. Plus I keep my eyes shut at all times…reminding myself…..at least you are not on an airplane!!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      You are a NUT JOB, Cheryl. (And that’s why I love you!) I don’t like to fly either. I’mma use your trick next time and just be grateful I’m not having the scrape-scrape.

  15. Jane

    I also hate the dentist. A few years ago I had to have a root canal and found a dentist who was nice to me. But it’s like a cult there. They all have the whitest shiniest teeth I have ever seen, the hygenists wear the same uniforms (pink on Monday, green on Tuesday etc), I know the dentist has had botox, and they all have tans. Icky. But I put on my ipod, close my eyes and I’m done.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh that sounds super creepy, Janey! I imagine that’s what it would be like if your dentist was Ashley from The Bachelorette.

  16. Rete

    I love my dentist!! If I have to go in for anything more stressful than a cleaning they ask if I’d like “the relaxing drink” which is a small cup that looks and tastes like Robitussin and knocks me right out. Of course, I’m usually just there for a cleaning and it seems like the hygenists are on a revolving door – they have a new one every other time I go. And they always talk too much or get too personal. I just close my eyes and try not to flinch.

    Your hygeniest sounds much scarier than mine are though!

  17. sbikes

    I didn’t know there WAS a musak version of Chicago’s Greatest Hits. I thought that was their genre to begin with.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh that’s cold. I’m not gonna invite you to my Peter Cetera sing along/Jazzercise party if you don’t turn your attitude around, Missy. 😉

      • Sbikes

        I guess I failed to admit that I saw Chicago in high school and knew every song.

        • The Bearded Iris

          You are totally coming to my party then. It’s Saturday, in the park.

  18. Muffintopmommy

    Stop it right now. Sweet Jesus in heaven, that is the funniest $hit I’ve read in a long time. And that Monica? She clearly doesn’t really like you. You fell for the old, “Lemme recommend my awesome dentist to you.” Bwa ha ha. Just kidding. (I think? No seriously, what’d you do to Monica? I gots to know.) If you didn’t live 1500 miles from you, I’d seriously recommend my dentist. No seriously. 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris

      WhAT? OMG, I never thought about it that way, but you may be right. I guess I shouldn’t have pushed her wheelchair into the street that one time, or stolen her husband, or claimed her rice pudding recipe as my own. Damn. I suck. I deserve every bad crown I get.

  19. Clare

    This is hilarious! My friend gave me your blog link, saying how hilarious you are, and she is right! I will be back!

    • The Bearded Iris

      SWEET! Thanks for listening to her (for once). JK, whoever your friend is, she’s clearly fabulous and twisted, in a good way. Stick around! I’ll make us some drinks.

  20. Kate Y

    OMG that was hilarious! I thought I was the only one who collected crazies like some people collect navel fluff or air sickness bags. (http://www.neatorama.com/2008/05/14/neatoramas-guide-to-25-of-the-strangest-collections-on-the-web/)

    • The Bearded Iris

      WHAT? I’ve been saving some of my cat’s hair to felt into a purse. Is that weird?

      • Kate Y

        No, no, not at all. Actually, one of my art instructors in college did make a sweater out of the fur from her dog (she was a Fibers Artist). That was kind of strange, but a purse is totally reasonable!

  21. DentalDominatrix

    WOW!! I really like your blog. Funny stuff. But this post and the comments are so hard for me. I am a Dental Hygienist. You know the absolute BEST part of my job? Getting told every hour on the hour how much people hate the sight of me. Hands down. (It’s one the reasons we talk so much—the more we talk the less you (the patient) can tell us how you would rather stick your hand in a blender than get your teeth cleaned.) Of course, I am not allowed to be quite so honest. I have to find a “nice” way to tell my patients that their mouth smells like a rotting ass that has been left in the July sun for a week. Meanwhile they LIE to me and tell me how they “totally floss– like, for real.” And their gums hurt when I clean them because I’m “too rough” it has NOTHING to do with the scorching case of gingivitis they are nursing.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Hygienist you saw does sound like she might be doing more than just vacationing in CrazyTown. Divulging all that personal info to you was DEFINITELY not professional. (I mean, if she tells you (a stranger) all that stuff imagine what she tells her close friends? ) I am definitely an off beat, moderately cynical gal. I have been known to call myself The Dental Dominatrix from time to time. (We exist in the Dental Hygiene wilds but we are rare— like the albino wombat.) However, I have been victim to ol’ personality bait and switch by patients. More than once while getting to know a patient I have found them to be “quirky”, “cheeky”, or a little “wack-a-doodle” and I think “Hells yeah, you are my kinda peeps!!” Soooooo I let down my guard and give them a little more of the off beat side of my personality only to have them get all serious on me again and then act like I am the SUPER WEIRDO. So maybe when you started talking about recreational prescription drug use she thought “Oh, cool, this lady isn’t uptight at all.”

    Just the other side of the tooth cleaning coin from the Dental Dominatrix

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ohmygosh, I’m SO glad you’re here! I’ve been dying to hear what it is like from the other side of the coin. I know it has got to be just awful being in stinky mouths with sweaty liars like me. (I really do floss though! Really!) Just speaking for myself, my dental work fears are deep rooted and based on me having pretty major sensory issues – nothing more. It’s definitely nothing personal. But you’re right, that one hygienist was one taco short of a combo platter. She’s not going to sully the whole profession for me though. What you do is SO IMPORTANT. Sorry if my post or any of the comments made you feel bad. I’m just trying to make light of a really weird situation (that I definitely brought on myself). Now tell us the truth… do those face masks have a deodorant built into them so you don’t have to inhale my garlicky gingivitis stank while you are two inches from my gaping drooling mouth?

      • DentalDominatrix

        Actually, being a DH is a sickness of sorts. We all have compulsive, OCD tendencies and on the whole we like funky mouths. It’s hard to explain– we just do. Your post didn’t make me feel bad but after the 32nd comment I felt compelled to give the other side.

        God bless you for having the good sense to get a little Drinky McDrinkface before your appointment. I often thought about spiking the mouthwash with Jack Daniels but I know those ASSHOLES that make up all the dental ethics standards would get their panties all twisted up about it.

        As for the masks, they aren’t scented as a general rule. However, I have been confronted with some stank that warranted me hosing my face mask with some of the Bath and Body Works smell goods that I keep in my purse.

        • Allysgrandma

          I actually know my hygeinist, small town and all so I floss every single night because I don’t want her spreading the word around town about my mouth! She actually said at my last visit it was the first time she did not draw any blood so I was doing well! I see the OCD thing now that you say that. I have another aquaintenance and she strikes me as a little bit OCD. We had two renters who always paid their rent on time who were students at OIT in Oregon (where my daughter went for ultrasound tech school). It was nice to hear your perspective. Stick around this woman will give you a good laugh right when you need it!

  22. Colleen

    I work in dentistry (going on 26 years now—started when I was 12, HA!) and I’d say Chatty Cathy definately crossed a line. Perhaps the white one painted on the floor at the institution she’s on furlough from? Usually it’s the other way around, patients tell US things that make us mouth “whack-a-doo” under our masks, not the other way around. Although we did have a student that loved to re-live her weekends in a very verbally-graphic way for patients. Wonder where that little minx ended up…
    OH, DentalDom—I have the most dead-on video that I know you’d enjoy viewing!!

  23. Allysgrandma

    I had to read your post to my sister over the phone long distance since she lives two states away and I had her rolling on the floor. She changed dentists because she of course has the awful fear, takes Xanax before an appointment and the dentist would not stop when she asked him to so she could swallow. She never went back and when she found her new dentist she told him the rules. If she holds up her hand he has to stop whatever he is doing. She likes her new dentist because he follows her rules. HAHAHA.

  24. InterestingFella

    I just gotta say, I am, and always have been turned on by going to the dentist. Being completely helpless and fully exposed in the chair is awesome to me. I want to meet a hygenist who will strap me down and clean my teeth and playout some of my fantasies. Its a dream I thought was out of reach but reading this has given me hope!! 😉 I need my own Dental Dominatrix!

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