One of my closest friends is a dentist. Doesn’t mean I have to enjoy going to the dentist. I lived in a house full of dental students and enjoyed many nights of craziness. Doesn’t mean I have to enjoy going to the dentist. I genuinely like my dentist. Doesn’t mean I have to enjoy going to the dentist. And, yet today…I went to the dentist. Doesn’t mean I enjoyed it.
As a kid, I really hated going to the dentist. I brush my teeth religiously (always have) and I only have one filling (though, admittedly, I’m not such a religious practitioner of flossing). Dentistry has come a very long way since “back in the day,” though, and there’s really no reason to hate going to the dentist. Yet, I still do.
Back in the day – going to the dentist was something of a crapshoot. Regardless of how much you brushed, flossed, or took care of your teeth – there was always that chance that the dentist would find a cavity. And, the anticipation was torture. My anxiety levels would be through the roof. Yes, even with just one cavity.
When I was on my own and moving from city to city and state to state, I didn’t go to a dentist for nearly six years. When I finally did go (to my aforementioned close friend), I bled like a stuck pig (his words). But, still…no cavities. That isn’t to say the encounter didn’t hurt. It always hurts – even just a little. Having your teeth scraped and gums poked and prodded is going to cause some level of pain. Since that time, I’ve reluctantly done the dentist thing every six months (or so).
Flash forward to fatherhood.
K-Man brushes his teeth every night with his super cool, battery-powered Super Hero toothbrush. I don’t think it’s any particular Super Hero – just a guy in a cape with “Super Hero” on the brush. (Just goes to show how a manufacturer can save on licensing fees, but still sell product!) Sometimes, K-Man complains that his toothpaste is “too spicy,” but for the most part – he’s pretty good about doing the job.
Because he’s not yet even three, we haven’t taken him to the dentist. I know that day is coming, however, and when it does we’ll have to basically tell him that going to the dentist is fun! There are all kinds of fun games you can play! And, best of all, lots of electronic gadgets that make exciting sounds! Whoo hoo! I wonder if he’ll buy it.
At some point, the kid is going to get smart and start asking questions like, “Do you like the dentist, Daddy?” I’ll have to tell him that going to the dentist is an important part of maintaining our health. “Do you like the dentist, Daddy?” I’ll tell him how crucial it is to have strong teeth and gums. “Do you like the dentist, Daddy?” I’ll tell him that oral surgery is really painful and it should be avoided at all costs! “Do you like the dentist, Dad…” No! I effing hate going to the damn dentist, K-Man! I hated it as a kid and frankly, even though I know my teeth are in good shape – I hate it now! Even thought the dentist said I have “excellent cavity-resistant teeth” – I hate it! No, K-Man, I don’t like the dentist! Why the hell does she have to keep talking to me like I’m going to talk back? Why does she ask me questions? Why can’t she just put on the music, let me close my eyes and forget where I am? Why? And, K-Man will probably say something like, “Daddy, I not scared. You not be scared, too.” Thanks, kid. I’ll keep that in mind.
There’s just something about the dentist that even now makes me feel like I’m seven years old. Wondering…will I have a cavity today? Oh well…I don’t have to worry about it for another six months.