From feeder fish to fun

My last post dislodged some thoughts.  I seem to experience mental constipation a little too frequently and memories/thoughts that are not routinely used are tightly compressed.  Blogging is my mental laxative.

And my most recent explosive blow involves trips to the dentist.  Remember those?  Am I the only one who experienced a cardiac standstill at the mere mention of the word?  The dentist struck terror in my heart.  I shook.  I prayed for deliverance.  I grew pale and clammy.  I went into shock (they just didn’t know that it was shock back then).

I didn’t always react like that.  During my first trip to the dentist, I was like a feeder fish in a tank of piranhas.  Back in the day we ate what we wanted.  We brushed our teeth when we wanted.  Dental hygiene wasn’t a big deal to us until the teen years.  Parents weren’t total freaks like we are now.  So it was no surprise that I had my share of cavities.

During my first dental visit, I smiled an innocent smile (bearing the evidence of the chocolate Hershey bar I had moments before ) totally unaware of the horror that awaited.  I climbed into the big, weird-looking chair that reclined sending my spit to conveniently pool in the back of my throat cutting off my air supply.  If the lack of oxygen and bronchospasms didn’t do me in, then the dental machinery (high power cheek and tongue sucker, drills, pic axs, high pressure water hose, mirror too large for my mouth, needles, fluoride inserts, big, ungloved dental fingers) did the trick.  Many times my mouth looked like the Edward Sissor Hands of the dental world.

After the mouth rape I was lead to the receptionist’s desk where a large, red fluffy box filled with cheap bling lived and stood in unbelief as my beloved Mother scheduled another appointment to return to this house of horrors.  The receptionist flashed me her pearly whites and informed me I could pick out a piece of cheap plastic.  Imagine how my poor brother felt.  Because they only offered rings, he either had to man-up and forgo a prize or connect with his inner pretty princess.  I guess that was their attempt to make the dentist’s office seem fun.  We just traumatized you but here….have a ring that will turn your finger green or break within 24hrs!

Today my kids have a very different experience with the Dentist.  He is one of their favorite people.  We brush.  We floss.  We practice excellent oral hygiene and as a result they have had almost no (my sugar loving girl had one) cavities.

But we can’t take all of the credit.  The Dentist office is a very different place today.  It is….more….child friendly.  Gone are the big, scary experiences and machinery.  Today we have “Mr. Thirsty,” a.k.a. the high power sucker, “Mr. Squirts” a.k.a. the jet stream water hose and “Mr. Tickles” a.k.a THE DRILL.  I don’t think that the name “Mr. Tickles” adequately captures the sheer experience of the drill.  But hey, if my kids are under the impression that he tickles then who am I to inform them that his tickle will electrocute their brain, travel down their spine and curl their toes.  Mr. Tickles it is.

They also have cool props to make the visit more fun.  Check out Tres, our youngest “Star.”

Cool shades to prevent the blinding from the oral interrogation light

Counting and checking:

No Edward Scissor Mouth here!

And lastly “polishing” a.k.a brushing!!

Polishing sounds so much more fun

Here is older bro, Dos getting ready for his turn.  Check out the face:

I'm next! Yay!

That face sums it up.

Prizes even a boy can enjoy!

Trips to the dentist have come a long way and so have the prizes!  Good-bye feeder fish, hello fun!!

18 responses to “From feeder fish to fun

  1. You brought back some “good”??? memories. I remember my Dentist office had a decorative wooden sign in the lobby that said “Painless Dentist.” Liar. Liar, liar, pants on fire. I have a mouth full of 40-50 year old (yes, I’m THAT old) silver fillings from my sugared youth that over the last few years have been breaking out taking other chunks of supposedly purposeful teeth with them. On Mother’s day I lost another hunk of a tooth so I had to go the crown route. The first visit was 2-1/2 hours, the second visit an hour-and-a-half (and even then leaving with the temporary on), the third visit an hour. Three shots the first visit did indeed make it “painless”. I promise to now be more proactive with crowns BEFORE my tooth breaks away … they tell me to take my pick of which one to fix next because they say about four of them need done. Unfair! All that and I did not even get one prize. It’s dental discrimination if you ask me. In looking at your prizes above, I’m guessing the bigger prizes go to those unlucky souls who have to be there the longest — of which I would definitely be in the running. I think my dentist owes me a pink monkey because honestly, who can’t look at a pink monkey and not smile. Mary

    • LIAR, LIAR indeed!! My mom has a mouth full of silver too. When the kids were younger they were intrigued with the older version of the grill that she had going on!

      Your mouth is also like my Mom’s. You guys should definitely get a pink monkey.

      The prizes are always picked over when we are there and the photo is a photo of a photo on the box (see comment to Meet the Buttrams) so they usually end up with a cheap prize but it is still better than what we had!

  2. 1. I hold my family’s record for most cavities found in one visit (13). I had to get the filled two or three at a time. I haven’t had a cavity since. (I was five.)

    2. That is some pretty sweet dentist swag. Are there prize levels, like at Chuck E. Cheese? Like, does the kid who has to have teeth pulled gets the dart board, and regular cleanings get the Chinese finger traps?

    3. Awesome.

    • Whoa! I think you hold the most cavities in one visit record period. I haven’t heard of that many in one mouth, during one visit – ever. But then again, you got them over with all at once!

      Nope, the kids get to pick whatever they want but each time we are there the swag is all picked over so they end up with a parachute dude that tangles within seconds of deployment! The photo is a photo of a photo (if that makes sense) on the box that the dental goodies came in. I half jokingly informed the receptionist that she should scedule our appts around when the monthly shipment of prizes arrive because I’d like a pink monkey (Mary you are right -they do make you smile!) She wasn’t amused.

    • Jess: At one point every time I went to the dentist, he’d discover yet another tooth in need to filling. One day I just said, “Why don’t you fill everything that you can fill and just save everyone the hassle.” I kind of think he did. I am a total metal mouth. 😦

  3. It’s not just the kids that have it better these days. There is a nearby dentist making converts of all the ladies here at the office by offering on-demand nitrous, a cool gel eye mask AND a paraffin hand wrap with your cleaning.

    Now that’s what I call service.

  4. You just described our pediatric dentist! And every time we go for our six month visit our dentist has on a new diamond. I think I’m paying for those. She could put more money towards the parachute army men but I don’t see that happening. We love her anyway!

    • Nice, she has the real bling and not the plastic/cheap metal stuff! I agree, although the prizes have come along way they could do better!!

  5. I’m having flashbacks! My dentist was like yours & I have horrible memories.

  6. “Blogging is my mental laxative. And my most recent explosive blow involves trips to the dentist.”

    Well that is an outstanding way to begin the day!

    Alas, I too, am a metal mouth. I promised that as my fillings fall out, I would replace them with enamel colored ones. But alas, my long deceased dentist swore that my fillings would last a lifetime and, dammit, they have. Bless his soul. That man knew what he was doing. Remember when dentists didn’t wear gloves? I could endure anything as long as I could visit that cardboard treasure chest under the receptionist’s desk. 😉

    • Renee – Ahh yes, the mercury laden fillings placed with those ungloved fingers were meant to endure eternity – and [unfortunately] in most cases they have!

      Now, if only they could create botox to have the same lasting results…I’d be all over it!!


  7. When I was a kid in the 60s, they didn’t use Novacaine for fillings, just extractions…I just had to look at candy and I had a cavity (or two!). There was no prize at the end either (except a world of pain!). Kids today have it so much easier than we did!


    • Wendy – Ouch!

      I remember having a filling or two fixed without Novacaine and thought it was pure torture. The dentist claimed that they weren’t deep enough for Novacaine. I wanted to show him a thing or two about deep!

      Yes these kids have quite the life!


  8. Beth –

    I’m just dying at the “after the mouth rape” phrase…

    too funny.

    and it makes me drool just thinking about it.

    Oh our poor teeth.

    And our lucky, lucky kids.

    • Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky……..however, I’m sure they will have their own tales of childhood woes. In the future when teeth are taken care of and cleaned by some non-invasive, high-tech means we will hear about the barbaric methods and mouth rape of their youth! But, we will still have them beat teeth down!

  9. I haven’t taken my 4 year old to the dentist. Yes, I said 4. Am I a horrible mom? I thought brushing and flossing would be enough, but now I’m scared. Especially after he complained of a toothache. You might be interested in this since you have kids – it’s called the Mom’s Guide to Caring for Little Teeth ( It’s got practical info for kids of all ages, up to the teen years.

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