At the root of dental dismay
Speaking of dreaded words, people wouldn’t be nearly as afraid of the dentists would change the names of some of the terms they use.
I spent an afternoon in my dentist’s office last week. My dentist is a nice man, and I feel he is sincere when he says, “ Gee, I’m sorry,” after he goes for one of my bicuspids with his drill and misses and nearly takes off one of my ears.
“ Never did have very good aim,” he further apologizes as I make my way back to the chair from the ceiling.
I don’t have anything personal against dentists, unlike noted author Robert L. Steed, who once asked, “ Why are dentists free men?”
Dentists mean well, I am certain, and without them many of us would be down to nothing more than our gums by now.
It’s just that the dental profession, were it to stop and think for a moment, could do a great deal to ease the discomfort and fear many of their patients feel.
Let’s start at the very beginning. I go to my dentist’s office, and while in the waiting room, if I can stop trembling long enough, I attempt to read one of the magazines my dentist provides his patients. Take ` pliers,’ for example
Last week I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated. It was an issue from 1979. This caused me to think: If this guy is too cheap to pop for any new magazines in his waiting room, he’s probably not going to waste any money on modern dental equipment either.
Let’s say he is going to extract one of my wisdom teeth on this particular visit. I expect one of two things:
Either he’s going to tie one end of a string around my tooth and the other around the doorknob of his office door and wait for his insurance salesman to walk in. Or, he’s going to put one hand in my mouth and reach the other toward his assistant and say the dreaded word, “ Pliers.”
Speaking of dreaded words, people wouldn’t be nearly as afraid of the dentists if dentists would change the names of some of the terms they use.
Let’s take the word drill, for instance. That’d not a happy word. That’s a scary word. It should be used in the context of oil wells and military exercises and not in relation to my mouth.
Pulp is another dental term I don’t like, as in “ Sorry, but I just drilled all the way down into your pulp.” Rooting out state secrets
Pulp is where your teeth keep all their nerves and other innards. When I h ear the word pulp it reminds me of a movie, I saw once where Sir Lawrence Olivier played a former Nazi dentist, and he drilled into the pulp of Dustin Hoffman on purpose in order to get him to talk.
The very thought of that makes me want to give away military secrets right and left even if I have to make them up.
The worst dental phrase of them all is root canal. Who thought of such a horrid, frightening term? Probably a Nazi. But dentists, including my own, still use it.
“ Looks like you’re going to need a root canal here,” my dentist said last week.
“ The attack is coming in early June on the Normandy coast,” I replied.
“ I beg your pardon?” said my dentist.
You can’t blame me for trying.