Hermits Rock

Go to content Go to navigation

From the dentist’s chair

  • Young dentists just out of dental school make up most of the dentists in my dental office. They’re often pretty things: petite, often blond, very fit if women; athletic, outgoing if men. There’s a new set every year it seems, so from one cleaning to the next I never know whom I’ll see. Yesterday I realized that my latest likes to put her hair behind her safety glasses. A blond strand strung beside, sometimes in front of her left eye. I wonder that it doesn’t disturb her seeing.
  • It’s a good question why K and I persist going to that office when we could see dentists just slightly younger, for much less money, at the dental school.
  • However, yesterday I also realized that whatever they teach at dental school, they must not teach chairside manner. Dental assistants and dentists alike, chatty enough between themselves, turn their backs on their patients to fiddle with computers, or they run out of the room while they wait for the anesthetic to work. I admit I’m not at my chattiest when I’m there—I’m not going to be the first to ask about their weekend plans—but I’m not averse to conversation. Is it because too many dentists go into dentistry for the middle class stability of the profession? I mean, it’s not really your world-changing career. How many dentists do you know who joined the Peace Corps? None is right.
  • When I go to the dentist, I sometimes wish I were the patient in Tina Howe’s “Teeth.” Now there’s a dentist who knows how to talk.


Dentistry is the ultimate comfortable upper middle class profession. You work three days a week, play golf three days a week, go to church on one.

I think dentistry would drive me crazy. Sure, there’s some creativity involved, but when your job is largely to make people uncomfortable and otherwise give them pain, then it seems to me it would be ethically wrong to enjoy it too much. I suppose one could talk oneself into believing one is doing a valuable service, but still. On the plus side, however, according to this lit review dentists are not in fact more prone to suicide than other professions.

And periodonists and pediatric dentists have more sex-related depression than other dentists.

In spite of, or because of, the easy schedule and six-figure salary, it would have to be an incredibly boring job. This would exclude, of course, that select elite of dentists who are doing research and experimenting with new techniques. I assume such an elite exists somewhere.

To be fair, the owner of the practice we go to has strong-armed his “associates” to volunteer with him at the free dental clinic in town, which I think he founded (with others, probably). So while they’re essentially sadists, there’s a tiny little, unshriveled corner of their hearts that wants to do good.

There’s a free dental clinic in town? How do you come to know these things?

(FYI, the owner of the practice also goes to good concerts.)

my dentist is overly chatty, as are her assistants… i don’t mind, but i do mind that every time i go in there is a new assistant. in order to not pay health insurance etc, she doesn’t every hire a fulltime assistant. i feel i’m in a catch because she attends our church, and even gives me free dental care on ocassions.

Guilt her into hiring her assistants FT. Every time you see her, exhort: “Don’t you think Jesus, if he were a dentist, would give his assistants the living wage and health care they deserved?”

Free dental care, though. That’s mighty tempting.

well, she’s albanian… and, actually, she has hired her kid brother full-time.

still, tho, she is living the life of the dentist at-large.

I have not been to a dentist in nearly a decade. It has been my experience in the past, however, that dentists and their assistants tend to ask you lots of questions as soon as they’ve got equipment in your mouth, making it rather hard for you to answer. That, and then they yell at you. The latter—combined with a lack of dental insurance and being generally lazy—explains my long absence.

Dentists yell at you?

10: I would like to know more about this uniquely Albanian practice of hiring assistants: 1) what’s with the nepotism? 2) does her being Albanian mean the appeal to Jesus wouldn’t work?

2) no.

1) it’s not just a albanian thing, but a refugee thing. she’s supporting the family…

that still doesn’t mean that having another full time assistant wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

2) could also be read yes. as in no it doesn’t mean that wwjd wouldn’t work… or yes, wwjd might work

If you pulled the WWJD? biz, though, I bet she’d probably renounce your free dentistry.

Anyway, what do you know? Dentists do too save the world!