Another Reason To Hate The Dentist

Most of the worst experiences of my childhood involve the dentist. I have an active gag reflex and a general aversion to sitting still for long periods with nothing to do but let somebody poke my soft innards with a metal stick, so the dentist chair has never been a good fit for me. Today, I got another reason to hate the dentist.

Because Beaverton does not fluoridate their water and because he's a nine-year old boy, my youngest son Tom had 4 cavities to deal with today. He was nonchalant about the whole thing for the first hour alone in the chair while I waiting in the sitting room, never expressing concern or doubt about the experience to come, which made me believe that everything was going to be just fine. Even when he started crying a bit, I was able to maintain my seat, knowing that he leaned toward the dramatic. However, when he started screaming, that's when all 6'5" and 280 pounds of me barged through the door between the waiting area and the rending rooms, not stopping to ask the women milling around reception if that was OK and conscious but uncaring that the expression on my face stilled them to silence.

When I got back to the room where Tom was being impaled, the dentist was busy telling him that little girls cried less than he did. She further went on to tell him that he wasn't feeling "pain" at all but only "pressure," a sentiment she had to repeat several times while she asked the nurse to give her the extra gauze to staunch the profuse bleeding. I have to say that it was difficult to simultaneously comfort my son while expressing my displeasure at the dentist for both the potential physical and verified mental torture she was using on him. Probably it wasn't easy for her to concentrate on her dentistry in a completely focused manner while I loomed over her, but that's what you get for making my son cry for 30 minutes.

Anyway, at the end, as she informed me that she worked with children all the time and had two of her own (implying that the pain was somehow my son's fault, I'm guessing), she also reached for the referral pad for another dentist to fill the other two cavities, saving me the trouble of asking.

I hate the dentist.

P.S. After a McDonald's toy and chicken sandwich (eaten carefully from the un-decimated side of his mouth), Tom seems unaffected. However, I'm sure that the whole sordid experience will come roaring back to him in the future unless they've replaced the dentist with nanites and computer programs (or sledge hammers and chisels, which would be equally humane)...

Comment Feed 37 comments on this post

Anonymous Coward:

Why they can't use laser or some "nanites" to do the drilling, and a program deciding where to work on..

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 2:57 PM

Chris Brooks:

I see this all too often in medical care - practitioners that deny the feelings of their patients ("that shouldn't hurt", "you can't be feeling that way", etc.). It seems to be much worse in the dental care area - I know we've had to shuffle our kids around to a few different places until we settled on someone we liked.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 3:15 PM


My 1st experience with the destist was going in (I must have been 5 or so), having a contraption stapped to my head to keep my mouth open, and having the dentist telling me to "shut up" everytime I made a noise.

Yes, dentists are lovely.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 3:27 PM

Patrick Cauldwell:

I had a dentist fix one of my first cavities with no drill, just this high-tech sandblaster, and NO anesthetic, since he declared none was needed.
He then proceeded to sand-blast right through my enamel and into the root (with NO anesthetic, remember). I grabbed his hands while coming right up out of the chair. His response was "that shouldn't hurt." I too, hate the dentist.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 3:48 PM

James Kovacs:

Right now, I have a dentist I quite like and would recommend her to anyone in the Calgary area. But I do have an amusing story about the dentist who did my wisdom teeth. Due to a quirk of genetics, I only had wisdom teeth develop on my left side, which I found out during an initial consult about having them out. (They were causing some pain as wisdom teeth do for many people.) I came back a few weeks later to have them removed under a local anesthetic. The dentist started injecting novocaine in gums on the right side. I couldn't say anything because I had this huge needle in my mouth. Once he took it out, I said, "I thought you said that they were in the left side last time?" He looked at the X-Ray rather perplexed, flipped it right side up and said, "Oh, you're right!" and went back to work. I stayed in the chair because I knew I wasn't coming back if I got up. I can only imagine what would have happened if I'd been under a general. How long would he have been digging before realizing his mistake? I shudder when I think about it.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 3:57 PM

john a:

I too have long been an anti-dentite.

Jokes about failing out of medical school come to mind.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 4:04 PM

Raymond Chen:

I guess I'm a freak. I've never had a fear of the dentist. Maybe I've just been lucky.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 4:16 PM

Tim Shakarian:

I guess I'm lucky - I love my dentist (even though I too dislike drilling or even the regular checkup). He's been in the business since I was barely old enough to remember visiting him.

Also, regarding fluoride in the water, there's a lot of evidence that suggests that it's actually a very bad thing, and at best only does a small amount to help fight cavities. External dental grade fluoride treatment is probably the best for children at a young age. It's a pretty quick (and painless - really!) process and doesn't have to be done too often. I'd highly recommend discussing fluoride treatment with your dentist if you haven't already. Best of luck to your dentist search. Hopefully you'll find someone that your son can have a great experience with, and maybe rely on for the next decade or two.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 4:30 PM

Don Demsak:

Why didn't your dentist ever recommend apllying a sealant your kids teeth when their adult teeth came in? I've had my kids teeth sealed as soon as the adult teeth came in. You just have to make sure that at every checkup they touch up any places where the sealant chips off.

I know that doesn't help much now, but when you take him to the new dentist, make sure they apply sealant so that he never has to go thru this again.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 5:54 PM


An hour and a half to do two cavities? She's a sadist. My dentist would have taken 15 minutes each, tops...

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 9:13 PM

Andy Miller:

We use Dr. Tom at the Beaverton Dental Center (near Rocklers). Both of my kids have had cavities filled with no complaints. Very high tech facilities.

Friday, Dec 3, 2004, 9:33 PM


There are plenty of dental horror stories around here (Charlotte). A few months ago, a dentist in a nearby town was busted for his habit of injecting his semen into female patients' mouths. Seriously. Google has my back on this one.
I grew up in a town about 20 minutes from here, the last dentist I went to was the father of a friend. He said I had 12 cavities and set up an appointment to fill them. I decided to skip the appointment and went to a dentist here in Charlotte. He said I had 0 cavities but a couple places that could use some sealant. He said he couldn't understand why the first dentist claimed I had a dozen cavities. A few months later, the first dentist was busted for massive medicare and insurance fraud (charging for procedures on dead people and other people he'd never seen). Scary stuff.

However, flouride in water is just about useless. We've got the intarweb now, no reason we have to buy the line the flouride companies sold our governments back in the day.

Saturday, Dec 4, 2004, 6:58 AM

Kindred Spirit:

I too have hated the dentist. But then I got a new dentist who apparently keep up with the development in dental care - so he uses the latest technology when fixing cavities and that means no drilling. He applies some sort of fluid which dissolves the bad tissue and only the bad tissue. After about 5 minutes he cleans the cavity out with water and applies the filling. No pain whatsoever. He says that only when doing root-canals does he drill.

Why don't they all use the latest stuff?

Saturday, Dec 4, 2004, 10:38 AM

Chris Sells:

Thanks for the show of support, folks. Tom's been very appreciative.

Sunday, Dec 5, 2004, 10:14 AM

Sean Chase:

I've been lucky too. If I had the same experience Chris had, I would definitely switch dentists based on the "girl" comment alone. She was lucky his wife wasn't there in his place. If she's anything like my wife, the dentist would have had a mouth full of her own teeth after making a comment like that with our kid screaming in pain. I'm sure she didn't mean to hurt him, but show some sympathy for crying out loud. Otherwise it's like me telling my client, "I've been programming for ten years, it's your computer's fault that you are getting the GPF while running my software...I have 2 computers at home and it runs fine on them." GMAFB.

Sunday, Dec 5, 2004, 11:19 AM

Christian Gross:

I know exactly what you are feeling. I am one of those people who just has problem teeth. People say you don't use flourid, or floss, or brush properly. Well, BS, I floss, use florid everyday, etc. My problem is that I have "soft" teeth because my acids in my mouth are too strong.

Ok back to the point. I went to a dentist who also said I only felt pressure and not pain. Well one day he decided to put on my crown without any drugs. I said NO, he said, yes you wont feel a thing. I ended up screaming very loudly in his office. After that he apologized and said I was one of the first.

Well, I know found a dentist who understands me. She explained my problems; 1) soft teeth due to acid, and 2) my body works off pain killers very quickly causing me to require double or triple the regular pain killers. One time while implanting a titanium pin she was concerned of an overdose because she gave me enough pain killers to subdue a horse.

Moral of the story is, Chris find the dentist that you like! They are there and those dentists that treat you like garbage are garbage dentists. My current dentist costs a bit more, but her work is worth every penny. Oh BTW, my experience has shown female dentists are more compassionate!

Sunday, Dec 5, 2004, 11:57 AM


I feel for you and your son! I remember the thing that put me off of dentists was root canal surgery when I still quite young. After the third injection to stop the "pain" I gave up moaning and let the dentist do his evil dead. Seeing what looked like inch long metal spikes being driving into my mouth didn't add the pleasure either :-(

From that point on I only went to the dentist when there was an immediate need. That need popped up recently as I had a really painful tooth. The dentist kindly told me that it was the least of my problems as I had an impacting tooth and I had to be referrred to the hospital as it was going to be difficult to remove. As the appointment date loomed I felt like I was on death row. As it turned out the consultant was quirte nice and gave me a choice:

1. Have it out now in situ.
2. Put to sleep and having it out.

"Hmm", I said "what does the process involve?"
Dentist replied, "Well we split the tooth down the middle and cut the gums; then we pull it out".
"Put to sleap please", my response :-)

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 2:02 AM

Dr Pizza:

Maybe instead of hating on the dentist you should teach him to clean his goddamn teeth.

It's not rocket science.

And I hope blaming it on the lack of fluoridation is a joke.

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 2:27 AM

Kaisa M. Lindahl:

Dentists are a breed of it's own. My inlaws are dentists, my ex-boss and his wife are dentists and I have a dentist clinic on the floor above my appartment. I haven't met the dentist from above, but the other four are all one of a kind. Nice people, but rather .... like other dentists, and not like other humans. ;) On the other hand, all programmers hate customers who whine about something. When you've met your fourth customer who whines, you're probably not going to catch on to the really BIG problem that this customer has. It just sounds like the usual sobbing and whining. Guess that goes for dentists too. Some people can brake a shoulder without crying, others go hysterical if you step on their toes.

During the last years, there's been a few revolutionary gadgets for dentists. Digital Xray has been around for a while, so you don't have the embarassing situation of having your teeth removed on the wrong side. Then there's The Wand, which is an anasthetic thingy that looks a lot like a normal pen, with a really, really thin needle on it. THe injection is controlled by a pump that works without the dentist having to touch it, after offcourse having set it up with the right amount of anasthetic to use etc. And then there's treating cavities with Ozone. Don't remember just how it works chemically, but instead of drilling, you use Ozone to clear the cavity. New dentist things are kind of cool. Maybe you could find a more tech-savvy dentist, and maybe there will be less pain involved for the kid.

(and well, I quit my old programming job for the dentist boss. Coding while hearing the patients moan in pain is really not recomended...)

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 3:46 AM


I had a similar experience a couple years ago with my dentist and my teeth. He thought he novacaned me enough and failed... miserably... and didn't believe me when I said I was in terrible pain. And this is while he's treating an adult.

If dentists make those kinds of assumptions about adults, imagine how they treat children whom they probably assume are crying for unwarranted reasons.

God I hate the dentist... but my new one is the President of the state dental association. If I'm getting em filled - I'll get em filled by the best from now on.

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 6:33 AM

Hassan Voyeau:

You should not have a cause to bleeding if all the dentist is doing is filling cavities? She must have done something wrong? You should have asked why there was bleeding? Unless she was doing a cleaning as well.

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 7:13 AM



That really pisses me off.

I mean, *really* pisses me off.

Not about the cavities, obviously, but that Tom's dentist (or: former dentist) is clearly a lunatic bastard.

I'm really surprised - not because I have any love for my own dentist (I've been in some very heated disputes with her), but because, regardless of profession, there are *limits* when it comes to conduct. She was completely out of line.

And this is coming from a guy who is *not* known for tact.

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 3:12 PM


Dam, you could just waited a little bit longer to tell this story. Tomorrow I have a showdown with the Teeth Butcher aka Dentist ..... If i was not happy about it now I simply don't wan't to go!!!
(ok i did not want to go originally...but thats beside the point!!)

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 4:29 PM


I hate the dentist as well. I've never had the "suck it up" comments directed to me by one. I'm about as big as Chris so I usually inform new dentists, in a casual and completely non-Assault/Battery type way that if I hurt, they hurt. All of the dentist's I've had so far have been very understanding and have seemed concerned for my comfort. I usually explain to them that I also have very sensitive teeth and that the anesthetics don't work as well on me. Which is true, I'm a redhead and I found a study recently that showed that redheads required on average 20% more anesthetic than non-redheads for the same comfort level. If you're son is a redhead that could be a reason he's experiencing more discomfort, aside from the jackass dentist drilling randomly into his gums.

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 4:55 PM

Nicholas Sing:

Well the comments I've had from the dentist are like...
"Sit still! Your wriggling only makes it worse!"
When I'm not actully moving any darn bone or muscle.
"You need to brush more"
When I too. Brush every night & morning and floss. and all that...

I agree "DENTISTS HAVE TO CLEAN FOR THEMSELVES!!!" I wonder how many times they get check ups!
Answer: Every 60 years(Although I'll probably only be alive for one!)

Although my dentist says more logical stuff like:
"The pressure is causing pain" or
"later on you'll get pain from the pressure thats on your teeth right now"

Monday, Dec 6, 2004, 9:27 PM

Sean Duggan:

I too have been lucky with dentists. My dentist when I was a child was a family friend and even when we got the "Dental Assistants" (generally kids working their way through college), I never had problems with any of them. Well, except for them being somewhat annoyed by my tndency to use my tongue to lick the toothpaste off of the motorized tooth-brush they always used... :-P But then again, I have strong teeth to start with. I've never needed braces and I've had a grand total of three caivities, one of which healed on its own before the dentist could get me scheduled to gave it drilled. (Yes, cavities can go away on their own...) Probably the most pain I endured in a dental atmosphere was wisdom teeth, and I didn't feel that until a day later. (Heck, I really don't remember anything until about a day after... my teeth severely impacted on the bottom and they were growing in sideways on top, so they had to dig pretty extensively)

While it sounds like your kid may have inherited cavity-prone teeth from you, there are a few things you can do that I know have helped me. After drinking soft-drinks, fruit juice, or anything else filled with acids and artificial sugars, I always got a drink of water with which I could forcibly swish the surfaces of my teeth to make sure I didn't just leave the stuff there to rot away my teeth. I also drank a lot of milk, which probably helped. *wry grin* So much for that now, what with re-developing lactose intolerance, although I supplement my diet with that calcium-enriched orange juice.

Wednesday, Dec 8, 2004, 12:25 PM

Miles Archer:

You can floridate yourself, either with a rinse or with pill. If our water wasn't floridated I would do so for my daugher.

Wednesday, Dec 8, 2004, 5:10 PM



Sorry to hear that. I've had the same dentist since I was 10 (I'm now 40). I love the guy. He is soooo good at what he does.

Mine will stop if there's any pain and use more anesthetic (Hey, it's not always easy to numb certain teeth). He is genuinely concerned that the experience be good.

I just sat through a two hour root canal and experienced a small abount of pain (at which he stopped and applied more anesthetic) for all of two minutes during the entire procedure.

Sounds like your dentist has a lousy bedside manner. That said I think "hating" dentists because of your experience is as stupid as "hating" Microsoft employees for all the buggy software we have get from you (anyone else ever had Word crash and lost an entire days work???).

Find a new dentist. Ask around for people's recommendations. There are plenty of good ones.

Wednesday, Dec 8, 2004, 6:33 PM


My dad was a dentist - I was shocked when I discovered that kids I went to school with were more scared of the Dentist than the Doctor.

I think sadists used to love becoming dentists, from all the stories I hear. My wife certainly had one when she was a kid. Thank goodness my dad was a wonderful and caring man...

Another dentist in our neighborhood (I went to school with his daughters) told a 16 year old beauty (that I dated several years later) that dentists were now starting to do breast exams, and proceeded to feel her up. She told her mom, but they didn't do anything else about it - he'd been their dentist for years...

My boys (ages 6 & 7) go to a "childrens dentist" - he has video games and a kid friendly environment. He has pulled baby teeth from both my guys, and they never complained at all - they're happy to go back. So I think he's a keeper.

I think the REAL lesson is to do just what you did - get away from the bad ones and find a good one...

Thursday, Dec 9, 2004, 3:41 PM

Chris Sells:

If I had as many negative exeriences from my software vendor of choice as I've had from the dentist over the years, I wouldn't even *be* in the IT field!

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2004, 8:35 AM

Randy Jackson:

Chris you always bring back memories when I touch base with you or your blog. Your son's dentist experience brought back the some deep memories. I hate dentists. When I was your son's age, back when they still used those huge glass and metal needle syringe cantraptions. I had some cavities and the old geez dentist poked the huge contration into my gum, I suppose to inject some pain killer, He never got around to it though. He rested it on my lower lip, told me not to move and left the room with the needle portion still embeded in my gum. The heaviy syringe cantraption hanging out of my mouth. He never returned. His son, fresh out of dental school found me there a half hour later still not moving. The geez retired after a phone call from mom. Years later I was on contract in Georgia and had a horrible tooth ache. It was saturday and I had one of my crew drive me into town. I found a dentist that was open and he agreed to pull the tooth even though he was "just there doing paperwork". He pulled the wrong tooth, or part of it, he broke it off. It was like one of those Three Studges flicks. Knee on my chest yanking this way and that until it broke off leaving very sharp shards sticking out of my gum. Then he realized it was the wrong tooth and pulled the offeneding one. Gave me some medication and told me to come back monday, when he would have some help and promised to fix what he had screwed up. I came back and he wouldn't even talk to me face to face, he had the nurse tell me that I needed a dental sugeon and to go away. I saw him on the news here in Georgia this last week. He's a suspect in the killing of his wife. What's the connection? Hard to say, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Friday, Dec 17, 2004, 3:48 PM


heya...sorry to hear bout it but i have braces and had to extract 4 teeth...thankfully it wasn't a frightening experience...but i think u shld try to find a dentist whom u can communicate well with..for example whether you are scared or uncomfortable..and make sure he understands and try to help you..i was also very scared of dentist till recently when i realized dentists need not be too scary but choose the right one..

I also feel that u should not get put off if a dentist treats you really badly..i mean try to forget about it coz if u have the mindset tt dentists are scary den its really going to be scary the next time you have to go for a dental treatment...good luck and stay happy=)

Monday, Jan 10, 2005, 4:57 AM

unpleasant surprise:

I went to my dentist to get a couple of crowns put in and a few metal fillings taken out to put in some composite fillings. I had (past tense) pretty symmetrical teeth, until my dentist got ahold of me and messed up my teeth - put in different shades of crowns that didn't match my teeth, some too dark with a dreary yellow cast, composites that didn't match my natural tooth enamel - ghastly dingy yellow. And shaved down 5 teeth to awful points -they were mainly straight across. And I paid him to make me look like this. Beware of those dentist who give you sales pitches, they'll say anything to appease you, to get the sale and then wham they don't know what they're doing, don't care, or have no good sense as to what looks like good teeth and you're now stuck with teeth that belong on some horror flick. Not to mention the dental hygenist that will polish your teeth to death with that abrasive gritty toothpolish that will eventually grind down your enamel to nothing. Ever wonder why as we get older out teeth crack? We're left with no enamel, because of all that abrasive tooth polish they use on our teeth. Good Luck with finding the right dentist. Alot of us, just keep searching most of our lives. It's not us, its the type of people who work in the dentist offices - they are merciless and downright hard to work with.

Friday, Sep 16, 2005, 6:48 AM

Just another mean old dentist:

I am a dentist, and yes we do have crappy dentists out there. There are crappy practitioners of ANY trade. You don't think SH*TTY patients exist? HA! It's always the big Harley dudes that are the biggest pussies too. But some of these comments are ridiculous. Dentistry is difficult under the best of circumstances. No dentist wants a squirmy patient, it makes things even more difficult and stressful. People in pain tend to squirm. So therefore any dentist who allows a patient to remain in pain is a moron. So f*ck that dentist and f*ck all whiny-ass patients. Don't like us? Don't come to us. Ever. I give a sh*t.

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2006, 5:43 PM

Dr. Brady:

Mr. Spout,

I am sorry to hear that your son had an awful experience at the dental office.
As a dentist, I can speak from experience that children are often hard to read and one of the more difficult patients to treat. I don't agree with the comments made by the dentist in regards to calling your son a girl for crying, but often we are just trying to do our job. There is a good chance your kid wasn't in pain at all. I don't know, I was not there. I've had kids scream when I purposely sprayed water on their gums and not even touch them with any instruments, just to confirm they are being overly dramatic, just to have no response when I poked the same area with an explorer. Many of these comments are ridiculous as my colleague above had mentioned. I just hate how people group all dentists as being the same. Would you say all waiters, mechanics, or pro athletes are the same?

As for your comment about being 6'5, 280 lbs lol, I'd like to see you try to intimidate me. We'll see who has more to lose. I hate bullies. Any physical harm upon me, my disability insurance takes care of me not to mention any future legal (both civil and criminal implications) action against you. I do dentistry not for the money but because I love the profession. I can retire any day now, I don't need your stupid kids giving me a hard time. Don't like my response? Don't go to the dentist, you'll be begging for treatment when you get an abscessed tooth that keeps you up all night because you left untreated decay for so long. I have plenty of patients as it is, I don't need anymore asshole patients thinking they own the world to show up as there are many others who appreciate my services. I've always said, if 99/100 people think I'm good, I could really give a shit about what the 1/100 says. Chances are, that 1/100 is the asshole no one likes anyways.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 6:00 PM

Matt Brown:

Dr. Brady,

you're nuts man. Giving me the god damn shivers. Not the kind of things you'd hope a medical professional would be spouting off.

Monday, Sep 5, 2011, 5:44 AM

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