“I find that most men would rather have their bellies opened for five hundred dollars than have a tooth pulled for five.”

When I was a little kid, one of the magic words was dentist. At the mere mention of going to the dentist, my toothache always disappeared. My mother, however, didn’t buy the magic. I have a toothache now. It started out as one of those not quite an ache but not quite okay either. Now it is a full-blown ache. I am slathering gel to numb the area. It works for a while then I slather again, and I’ll take that because I can’t call my dentist until Monday. This will not be a surprise to him as it is a tooth we have been watching. It is the last wisdom tooth.

When I was around twelve, I had a couple of teeth filled. They had become cavities because of the braces I wore. The dentist used Novocain and gas. I loved the gas. I went under, knew nothing and woke up with everything done. My dad, though, hated the bill and thought the dentist was a highway robber so he decided to take me to his childhood dentist. The story I’m about to tell has the makings of a horror movie. I know because it still gives me nightmares.

The dentist was in East Boston. He was old and so was his office and his equipment. I swear his drill was pedal-driven like the old sewing machines. Either he didn’t believe in Novocain or had never heard of it. As soon as I’d hear his drill, I’d grab the arms of the chair so tightly I’d leave indentations with my fingers. My entire body stiffened. I swear I could feel every turn of the drill. Tears would quietly fall down my cheeks because of the pain. He never noticed. My dad took me to him three times. I hated dentists after that and believed they were agents of evil responsible for inflicting earthly punishments.

When I was going in the Peace Corps, I had to have my teeth perfect: no cavities, no potential problems and a thorough cleaning. I found a dentist in Lawrence near school and explained to him that dentists to me were the epitome of evil. He took me on anyway. He didn’t cause any pain. I thanked him.

My current dentist and I have been together since 1971. Every six months I go for my teeth cleaning and always have any necessary work done. Neil, we are on a first name basis, never hurts. He jokes and makes fun of me. I like him and because of him, I no longer see dentists as under the devil’s dominion.

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14 Comments on ““I find that most men would rather have their bellies opened for five hundred dollars than have a tooth pulled for five.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    I’ve always liked to go o the dentist and not because I haven’t had caveties, I’ve had plenty. But my first dentist was great and played with me for a long time before he started to do anything. To this day I never take any pain reliever at the dentist. I’ve only had one bad dentist and she was bad only because she had a tendency to talk more to the nurse than to see what she was doing 🙂

    It happened that she started to drill in the wrong tooth or that my tongue bled like crazy, she was the school dentist so there was no use in complaining because we didn’t have to pay anything 🙂 Young people up to 21, I think could be 25, still don’t have to pay anything when going to the dentist.

    I hope the ache isn’t so bad that You can’t sleep tonight, that kind oif pain is awful!

    Have a great day despite the tooth!

    • katry Says:

      I don’t care about going now as I have a good dentist, but that old one scared me off for a long time. My teeth are quite sensitive so I do need a pain killer.

      We don’t have school dentists here. People have to pay for their own dentists though sometimes when there is huge disaster, dentists and doctors will donate their time.

      I went to a doctor and got some pain killers to help me last until Monday.

      Have a great evening!


  2. flyboybob Says:

    I can sympathize with you. My ancestors played a dirty trick on me by bequeathing me crappy teeth. By the time I was 12 I dreaded the dentist dril and the novicane needlel. Over my lifetime I have put many dentist’s kids through college. Dentists have the best business. You start with amalgam fillings followed by crowns when the fillings breakdown. Then you graduate from crowns to root canals followed by implants and finally dentures. They have a lifetime customer.

    My latest dental expense has been three implants. I could have bought a new compact car for the cost of the teeth, but I’m betting to live at least another 20 years so I am amortizing the fees.

    My kids have not suffered through cavities because of floride in the water. I remember the debate over floridation in the early 60s accompanied by crazy ideas about floridation being a communist plot. Now the city of Dallas is considering stopping the floridation program because of a vocal group of parents who think floride causes autism. It’s a knee jerk reaction without any scientific evidence of a link between floride and autism.

    Sorry to hear about your toothache. It sounds like you have an abscess and a root canal is in your future. Good luck.

    I am waiting for my flight home to Dallas and I enjoyed a beautiful clear morning here in Toronto with temperatures in the 70s. Looking forward to coming home to mid 90s temperature and higher humidity.

    • katry Says:

      It was braces which did the damage to my teeth. I have been lucky of late, and this is the first problem I’ve had in a long while. I used to joke I was buying my dentist a new boat.

      I haven’t had any work done, just general cleaning, in a long time. This tooth will come out. I was warned.

      My sister started bringing her kids to the dentist when they were young. We only went if there were problems.

      Nope-this tooth will be pulled. It is my last wisdom tooth so it is unnecessary and will come out.

      Toronto had perfect weather!

      Hope you had a good flight!

      • flyboybob Says:

        I never knew anyone over the age of 25 who still had wisdom teeth. You probably should have had it removed before you got all that wisdom. 🙂

        An old Cajun in the deep swamp had a terrible toothache when he ate molasses. After the dentist pulled the tooth he took the tooth home. When he got home he opened a can of molasses and threw the tooth in and exclaimed, “Ok, you tooth, now you can hurt all you want”.

      • katry Says:

        All the rest of them have been removed. This one hadn’t given me any problems until now.

        I fear that the old Cajun and I will have a free tooth in common!

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I sympathize completely. I had the evil antiquated dentist as a kid, too. My brothers and I all hated him and didn’t go to any dentist for a long time afterwards unless it was unavoidable simply because of that guy.
    Unfortunately, while my brothers got my mother’s strong teeth, I got my father’s porous teeth. Quite a few of them are not my own anymore and most of the rest are partly something else.
    I did find an excellent dentist, finally. He and his staff are wonderful and I hope he never retires because I don’t want to have to do the search all over again.

    I hope your tooth eases off a bit. The weekend will be very long otherwise.
    If it’s not an abscess, you could try a holding a warm, heating pad next to your face on the side with the ache. I used to heat salt in a dry frying pan and wrap it in a face cloth. It worked well enough.

    Try to enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      That’s exactly what happened to me. I stayed away from the dentist for years until I had no choice. I wanted to go in the PC so I had to go to the dentist.

      I pretty much have my own teeth though I do have three crowns. They are in the front, and a long while back I fell and did damage during the fall to two front teeth.

      I called my dentist. He is not on call, but they gave me the on-call dentist’s number. He wasn’t there so I called 1-800 dentist for help, and they had none. I enter up going to the care center, and they gave me a pain killer.

      I hope yours is a good evening!

  4. Coleen Burnett Says:

    Funny you should talk about this today…guess who broke a tooth a couple days ago? Yep…yours truly.

    I hate dentists…as a kid, mine was great on technique and up to date knowledge, but his bedside manner was AWFUL. He scared me half to death all the time, and no amount of motherly concern helped my trauma…

    I am in no pain unless I eat something and then I gotta be careful…hope you are doing better…

    Waving from Jersey,


    • katry Says:

      I went to the Care Center as the pain finally got too much. I was given an antibiotic and pain pills which have yet to work. I’m thinking ice cream might just do the trick.

      Monday I’ll call my dentist first thing which is also what I might suggest to you! A broken tooth shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you can’t eat anything though ice cream might also be okay for you too.

      Waving from Cape Cod!


  5. Lori Kossowsky Says:

    Dentists– ick. About 5 years ago, I had a dentist pull a wisdom tooth without any pain killer. When I called my dental insurance they confirmed that there was no bill for a painkiller. He had been a fairly good dentist until then, and I couldn’t imagine why he did this. I had no idea what he was doing, he neglected to tell me. It’s still a mystery to me. I called him up and confronted him and fired him.

    I know am supposed to go to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned, but because of the pain, I can’t sit in the chair. I like my new dentist, he never hurts me.

    Another story about having a wisdom tooth pulled..well I’ll save that for for another toothy day. If the dentist had had his way, I might have ended up dead.

    I hope your tooth stops hurting soon. Does the tooth fairy still visit you?

    Lori and the crew

    • katry Says:

      Hi Lori,
      Why didn’t you stop him? If my dentists hasn’t given me enough, I always make him give me more. He is always quite obliging.

      My dentist, the one since 1971, never hurts me either. He is a good guy as well.

      I go every six months for my cleaning. I want to keep my teeth well into my much older age.

      Why would the dentist want you dead? Did you ever see Jack Nicholson in the movie The Little Shop of Horrors? He plays the crazed dentist.

      I wish the tooth fairy came to visit.

      Kat (the animals are all asleep)

  6. Lori Kossowsky Says:

    I”ve seen the Little Shop of Horrors but I don’t remember the crazed dentist. I must have blocked it out. Explanation on the dentist who was pulling out my wisdom tooth– not the one who just didn’t use any pain meds. I cannot have a local, because of medication I am on–I could stroke out.. He told me what he was doing was fine, and I knew it wasn’t true. So, I made him call a pharmacist, who verified it. He still insisted what he was doing was fine. BUT, he couldn’t get the needle in, no matter how hard he tried, and had to resort to the method that I really needed.

    I know it’s time to take Cookie to have her teeth cleaned– or for them to look at them I brush her teeth daily. HA!


    • katry Says:

      Right now I could almost pull this myself as it is still hurting immensely. The pain killers aren’t working, and I am out of gel. Monday when my dentist opens seems a long way off. I’m not happy. Luckily the movie Love Actually is on which eases the pain just a bit,


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