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.

The Covington News - - Opinion -

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.

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