My dentist was a good man. I have always known that. But the very idea of his profession made me cringe. He would do his very best to keep gentle. But no matter how he tried, it was always a painful experience for me. The word “dentist” to me means “torture of the mouth”
There were two dentists at that particular location. Mom had picked the location due to convenience of short distance – she could walk there really. The two dentists were father and son who shared the same receptionist. When my mom said she was there to see Dr. Rigdon, the receptionist asked which one.
Now here’s a unique way for selecting your dentist – both had uncommon first names – neither of which mom cared for – but chose the name she liked better of the two. He actually turned out to be the better pick of the two – but not because he had a better name. He was the son who used the latest in modern equipment, while the father seemed to have the original tools that one may find in the old west. Scary.
Dr. Rigdon had told me that I was one of his juiciest patients. I think I must have been his juiciest female. My dad held the record of being the top patient with the wettest mouth. Perhaps that’s more than you, the reader, care to know. Oh, well.
He was good at trying to ease the pain. There was the laughing gas that would make me forget that my mouth probably hurt. He also provided his patients with headphones – the ones who preferred listening to music or just to drown out the sound of the drill or pick or whatever.
As an adult I remember having burned the roof of my mouth one night before seeing Dr. Rigdon – and so my mouth was extra sensitive. To his credit, he really did have a lot of compassion. He really worked as gently as he could. Tears streamed from my eyes and he would wipe them for me.
The hardest part was when I left the dentist chair and passed the waiting area to the parking lot. A little boy looked up to see my tear stained face. What a frightening thought that must have been, to see an adult leaving the dentist office in tears. What kind of torture would be in store for him? I cried about having cried.
Dr. Rigdon’s not fully retired. I understand he stops by the office once a week now – though it’s been years since I have personally gone to him. During my married life there have been a huge number of dentists. Usually based upon whoever would take whatever insurance we happened to have at the time.
My boys were weird. They would ask me to make dentist appointments for them. I always had to be in excruciating pain before I would even suggest a thing. But my boys were concerned with hygiene. They WANTED to go to the dentist. Weirdoes.
And then there’s Jenna. She absolutely LOVES going to the dentist. It hasn’t even mattered which one. She has loved them all!
Her first dentist was a pediatric dentist. Of course he had the most inviting waiting room ever. The play area for the children was designed like a pirate ship. She was big into steering wheels and would position herself at the hub. Oh, she was the cutest thing!
She had only four teeth the first time we went to him. She laid on the baby dentist chair and assisted him with looking into her mouth. We saw him only one other time before our insurance changed and forced us to find somebody else.
A family dentist for all of us. I was told he would look at children, but there was a concern with Jenna’s age. Apparently he had never had a patient quite so young. But as it turned out, everybody in the office loved Jenna just as much as she loved going to the dentist.
His office was not quite as exciting as the pirate ship. There was a “skills” toy in front and a list of videos to request to watch while waiting and being worked on. Jenna would assist and follow the aides around. It seriously got to the point where the aide would physically have to walk out of the door that led to the parking lot just to get Jenna to follow. But she was a joy. She really had become a favorite patient.
We do pass a dentist office on the way to her school. Jenna had her first appointment with him. His waiting room is set up with chairs. There are no toys or set ups or videos – nothing inviting for a child. And yet she still thrives on going. This one tells us that Jenna has perfect teeth. And she does. She hadn’t with the other two. We thought her permanent teeth would come in crooked as her baby teeth seemed to be. But they are straight. There are no cavities. They are perfect. And we both like our new dentist.
Well, I have actually not been to him myself. Our insurance (as it turns out) is not that great. Perhaps when the economy is over its downfall and we are more financially stable, I can return to the dentist and have him explore my mouth.
I am so grateful that Jenna likes going to the dentist and that she doesn’t view it as a traumatic experience as I did (and still do) and that I have never had to drag her there. In fact, she is usually the one to insist I make an appointment. Sometimes I’ve had to tell her, “NO” Can you even imagine?