-Graphics Editor/Amanda Palma

Okay, I admit it, the dentist freaks me out. When the friendly hygienist tries to make me comfortable on the seat, I feel my hands tremble. I entwine my fingers to ease the vibrations, but it doesn’t work because the moment that hook tool hits my peripheral, my eyes dart from left to right in a speed that would make a butterfly jealous.

“It’s okay,” she says.

My mouth is filled with liquid and a hose that makes my speech sloppy, but I reply, “O-ay.”

But it’s not okay, it’s scary! That metal hook is aiming for the pink part of my mouth and wants to shred it to pieces. There’s a reason why movie serial killers have hooks for hands. Look at Captain Hook! He wants to do some damage with that thing. Do I really need this kind of anguish?

Sensing, okay, seeing my anxiety, the hygienist backs away and the corners of her lips lift.

“It’s just a little poke,” she says. At my nod, she picks up the Hook of Doom and hacks away at my gum line with all the elegance of Jack the Ripper.

A little poke? Ha! What a lie.

It’d better if she were to say, “I’m just going to make you suffer like you’ve never known before.” By doing this, I could know for certain that I’m going to die. I’m not dramatic, I can taste my blood.

She hums, I guess trying to make me feel at ease, but really, she enjoys torturing her victims.

Then she says, “Do you drink soda?”

Yay! What I really want during this brutality: a conversation.

I’m a very polite victim, so I answer, “No, but I drink loads of green tea and occasional coffee.” I’m pretty sure the only coherent word is “tea”.

She says, “Tea is bad for teeth. You’ll have a whiter smile if you give it up.”

I don’t want a whiter smile! I want to escape and share my story with other survivors.

As I sit near death, I think about the moment in childhood that made me this way. I remember scattered images of hooks, yanking, the metallic taste of blood and the maniacal laugh of the dentist.

I press my eyelashes down into the tops of my cheeks and try to calm down. I am a grown woman. I am not a child getting a tooth pulled. This nice lady is helping me. She will not murder me. I open my eyes, she smiles and tells me to spit. “See?” she says. “Wasn’t so bad, right?”

“Right.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

The dentist comes in, looks around my mouth for a chance to cause additional pain and sticks that hook back into my mouth. Minutes later, he smiles, says all is well and I can leave. I politely smile in return, walk out the door and vow never to go back into that dungeon of torture again. I’ll take my chances with the cavity, thank you very much.

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