May 1, 2024

Just Saying…

What does it take to be a Dentist?

By Q.C. Jones


Allow me to explain. This article could better be summarized as a true confession. Realizing that true confessions can be self-serving, self-aggrandizing, and only good for the writer, please bear with me as I journey through my life’s experience while sitting in one of the most uncomfortable recliners on the planet – the dentist’s chair.

Through the years, I have felt the key ingredients for a successful dental practice were the following:  An office with a strange medical smell, an exhaustive collection of vintage People magazines, a few white lab smocks, and a serious bent for sadistic behavior.

As most negative stereotypes go, I have friends who fall into the targeted group. Yep, and this is true in QC’s case, too. Why, I have great friends and even a cousin and niece who are dentists. For the life of me, I must admit, their sadistic streak is either lacking or well hidden. But that is another story. Perhaps someday I will have one of my “shrink friends” join for us for cocktails and secretly analyze their personalities. Stay tuned.

Getting back to the subject at hand, allow me to share my dental chart with you.

Your pal and ace reporter QC Jones spent his early years in a part of the country where drinking water tasted like seashells and was naturally fluorinated to the point where today I am told they remove fluoride from the water rather than add it. Scientists tell us too much fluoride creates good teeth and low IQs. Perhaps this may explain how I survived childhood with only a single visit to the dentist.

My first dental experience came about because the schools in my little hometown insisted that everyone have a dental checkup prior to entering high school. As of this point, I knew several dentists. They seemed like decent enough people; hell, maybe even mild-mannered and kind. I had no prejudice for or against the dental profession. But things changed.

My parents made an appointment with our family dentist, or at least the one they visited from time to time. And, for the most part, I was looking forward to this rite of passage trip to the dentist. I can still remember walking up to the door of his office which was on the second floor of an old building on my hometown’s square. I excitedly ran up the long flight of stairs to the second-floor hall and opened the door to this business. Quickly following the instructions to have a seat and wait for the dentist, I couldn’t help but notice the familiar smell of stale cigar smoke (which was familiar to me because my grandpa and all of his buddies were cigar smokers).

I was soon greeted by Dr. M (we are changing the name to protect the guilty). While the waiting room smelled of
cigars, the examination room was clouded with smoke. The good doctor took a long draw from the cigar and greeted me warmly and asked when football season was starting; after all, it was a small town, sports were a big thing, and we knew one another.

Resting the cigar in a nearby ashtray, Dr. M quickly set about examining my mouth. Now for those of you who have never found yourself with a mouthful of cigar ashes, there is nothing quite like the experience. But things went downhill from there. After poking around with various instruments and sundry other sticks and small hammers, the doc stepped back and announced, “I have good news and not so good news.”

Continuing, he said, “You have one very small cavity, but otherwise your teeth look great. We’re going to fix that cavity and you’ll be great.” Then tossing out a few scientific terms, he set about puffing on his cigar, all the while mixing some magic formula. Stepping back to the chair, he explained the cavity was small and he was going to save my parents 10 bucks by filling it without giving me a shot of Novocaine.

The next 15 minutes were pure torture. I would wince; he would stop, ask if I could handle the pain, and before I could say yes or no, the drills were whizzing in my mouth. Remember my comment about old cigar ashes?  I can tell you the smell of an ancient drill hitting the sensitive part of a tooth is 100 times worse.

The appointment came to an end, and I vowed this would not be an experience I struggled through again, or at least any time soon.

Fast forward seven years and no dentist visits later, I found myself at a cocktail party in Cleveland, Ohio. In a chance conversation, I met a dentist who went by the name of “Phil-the-Drill” and booked himself as the future of dentistry. I liked him and told him of fears and bad dreams about life in the chair.

He had a different plan, a casual meet and greet at his office with drinks, and the opportunity to sit in one of his chairs, turn down the lights, crank up the stereo, and relax. I accepted his invitation. Between songs he explained the tools and told me that dentists can be painless.

I recently saw a dentist who is taking the same approach in the QCA. If you are like the old me, I would recommend you look up Virdi Dental in Moline.

And, just so you know, I always get a checkup and haven’t had any dental pain since 1969.

Just saying… QC Jones    

Filed Under: Family, Health & Wellness, Humor

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