Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Daily adventures: The Dentist.

So today I went to the dentist.

This might not seem like a big deal to y'all. In fact, for a lot of you, I'm guessing a trip to the dentist is no more of an event than going to get the oil changed in your car or buying a new pair of shoes. That is to say, its falls under the category of routine maintenance for your life.

But you see, I haven't been to the dentist in a while. A long while. An amount of while that would be considered obscene by many people.

Yes yes. I know everyone puts off going to the dentist. You're supposed to go every six months, or a year. But you forget, or you avoid it, and one year stretches into two, or three, or five.

But, as with all things, I've taken it to the next level. For me it's been so long that I can only dimly remember the last time. My last dentist was a huge Italian man with fingers like sausages. He looked like an honest-to-god mobster, and when he mentioned that I wasn't flossing, it sounded like something out of the Godfather. Like if I didn't floss, he was going to send someone around to my house to straighten me out....

Also, the brand name of the little workstation they had next to the chair? "Cavitron" I shit you not. The thing was called The Cavitron.

It would be funny to say that that experience traumatized me, and that's why I haven't been back for so long. But the it wouldn't be the truth. I thought all that was funny as hell.

The truth is, I just never think of going. And when I DO think of going, I worry that when I show up they're going to say something like, "Well, it's too late. Our only option now is to surgically remove your whole mouth in the most excruciating manner possible."

So, of course, it's easier to avoid the whole situation.

How long has it been? It has been, at my best guess, eleven years. Maybe twelve.

And I don't floss. At all. It would be impossible to floss less than I do, unless you somehow invented a machine that made negative flossing possible.

So, to cut to the chase, I went in to the dentist and got to experience the new tool. Apparently that sharp metal pokey thing was getting blase. Now they have much cooler high-tech version of that. It combines all the pokiness of the metal tool, with a tiny spray of water and a feeling like...

You know when someone runs their fingernail over a chalkboard and you feel it back in the base of your neck. It's like that. Except it's the pokey thing and my teeth making the noise. Huzzah for science.

But deep in my heart I know I've earned this. This is Penance. It's fair. This poor hygienist wasn't planning on dealing with this today and they probably scheduled my cleaning thinking that they'd only need the regular amount of time. I can't blame them for being a little rough and a little hurried.

Still, part of me wonders if there is an upscale dentist option out there. I mean, I don't think Brad Pitt goes in to the dentist and has someone scrape away at him like this. It's just undignified.

Anyway, it's good for me. Not only because my teeth did need cleaning, but because I haven't practiced my Buddhist meditation lately, and I typically only do that in situations like this.

Here's my philosophy. Any wanker can meditate at home, listening to Enya and sitting on his yoga mat. That's for sissies. You managed to clear your mind from all distractions? Wow. Congratulations. You want an organic, sugar-free walnut and raisin cookie to celebrate?

Me? I'm badass. My thought is that if you can relax, clear your mind, and contemplate the four noble truths while someone is drilling your teeth, then you've got your place in the universe pretty well sorted out. Meditating while under extreme conditions is like going running while you're wearing leg weights and occationally stopping to have a fistfight with a shark. Except, y'know, with your brain.

So I meditate in the dentist's chair. I meditate while flying through a thunderstorm sitting next to a mom with a screaming baby, while getting stitches with no anesthetic at the doctor's office, and, once, in the fourth row of a Gwar concert. Keep your circle breathing to yourself, hippie. I've got so much pranjna I don't even know what to do with it all.

And the end of the story? I'm fine. No cavities. No trouble. I'm the first to admit that this little story would work better with a moral at the end. But that's just not the way some stories actually happen.

Goodnight everyone,


Labels: , ,

posted by Pat at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The scary thing is out of all those places and situations you attempted to meditate in the Gwar concert has got to be the worst. Ive been to a Gwar concert and as far as im concerned falling off a 30 story building is more peaceful than a Gwar concert. Stabbing yourself in the leg with a machete is more peaceful than a Gwar concert. To meditate in that situation you have to have some serious skills.

February 6, 2008 6:45 AM  
Anonymous Kip said...

High Five on the Gwar concert, My Friend Socrates went to one where the Lead sinder walked by, ripped the cheseburger his friend was holding was holding out of his hand, took a bite out of it and signed it, and handed it back. That was the funniest think I ever heard.

Anyways.. That process is called scaling that you went through, pretty awkward isn't it. I also havn't been to the dentist in a long time (9 years) and my job is installing computers, X-ray sensors and intra-oral cameras in their offices, It's so awkward when I walk in, I feel like they are staring at my teeth....

February 6, 2008 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Kip said...

Oh, What kind of music do you listen to?

February 6, 2008 7:30 AM  
Blogger Mainjari said...

Pat, I'm disappointed in you. Any story that begins "So today I went to the dentist..." has to have something excruciatingly painful happen and explained in such detail that I flinch back in my seat with horror. Usually some root canals or a dentist high on laughing gas is involved. "So today I went to the dentist and I got my teeth got cleaned, and it was somewhat unpleasant" just doesn't cut it, no matter how amusing and fun and interesting and the fact that it is written by Patrick Rothfuss it might be! I am unsatisfied, and I request that you go back to the dentist more often until you come back with a more worthy tale, filled with much wailing and gnashing of teeth and any other attributes of a real dentist horror story!

February 6, 2008 7:38 AM  
Blogger TK42ONE said...

I was lucky to find the dentist I have now. Close to home and a good guy. I hardly see him now as he's gone from "regular dentist guy" to "dentist/owner of several dentist shops guy." But those that do poke and prod in my mouth are still nice.

Anyway, dental hygiene. I don't floss. Well, maybe once or twice a year when that damn popcorn kernel works its way into a very uncomfortable place. Like the back of a Volkswagen. I do brush. Once a day. Twice if I'm feeling lucky. Might sound gross, but I have a third tool to keep my mouth clean.

Trident gum. That's right, that plain flavored, blue boxed, sugarless gum that you couldn't stand as a kid because it didn't blow bubbles and lasted forever. That gum. I chew between 5 and 10 pieces a day. Not a terribly expensive habit if you have a Costco membership since you can buy it by the case.

But it works. I swear by it. After every meal and every drink, I chew a piece of gum. It worked wonders when I was still drinking soda (I've kicked that habit for several months now). No lie, I walked in for my regular 6-month check-up and the hygienist started poking and prodding with the metal thingy and commented "Wow, you've been flossing I see." I nearly choked trying not to laugh. I finally admitted I chewed Trident constantly. She looked bewildered but I've heard nearly the same thing ever since (about three years now).

So buy some. Try some. Chew on it for a few months or a year and go back. You'll be amazed.

And your girlfriend might even kiss you more.

February 6, 2008 8:33 AM  
OpenID roseneko said...

You lucky bastard, Pat. The last time I went into the dentist after delaying for years I had something like twelve cavities, two extractions, and a tooth that had crumbled half away to deal with. Admittedly, I didn't floss either (I do now!), but I think I just got shafted on the "teeth" section when they were handing out genetics. Crooked teeth, impacted wisdom teeth, dead teeth...been there, done that.

I'm actually due for a root canal here pretty soon - maybe I should post my incredibly excruciating story for all the schadenfreude junkies who're upset by your tooth-oriented luck? =)

February 6, 2008 9:42 AM  
OpenID suziko said...

Yeah! No cavities! :) Did you get to pick out something from the drawer of cheap toys? Or did you just get the new toothbrush consolation prize?

February 6, 2008 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Sienged said...

A fist fight with a shark?

Well as long as the shark doesn't cheat I think you could take him Pat. Seeing how sharks don't have arms.

And if he does bite, you he would get disqualified or at least lose a point or two.

my talent is on Pat

February 6, 2008 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Kalligenia said...

I haven't heard of Gwar in almost as many years as I've not been to the dentist. Not that I'm afraid of the All Mighty Cavitron or the Drill, but it's just a financial matter. Can't afford it. Sometimes I have dreams my teeth fall out and I end up brushing for an hour when I wake up.

The last time I had my teeth cleaned was way back when I was in college and I volunteered to be a guinea pig for a dentist hygenist student. Four sessions of sitting there with my mouth open for three hours. Imagine the amateur scraping and poking. *shudders* It was free though!

February 6, 2008 10:49 AM  
Blogger Major Sheep said...

I have a slight under-bite. I can chew my food normally and I don't need to tuck in my bottom lip so as to avoid setting off tripwires, but it's there.

The last time I was at the dentist, the cleaning went as scheduled; nothing worrisome or particularly heinous. Then the dentist asked to talk with me in his office where he detailed a plan to cut off my jaw, remove a few bits to shorten it, then re-attach it.

I said I'd think about it, then ran out of the office and never returned.

February 6, 2008 11:13 AM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

I think TK42ONE works for Cadbury Adams...

Anyway, Pat you better floss from now on or someone will come by and break your legs! (because that dentist will see your blog and know where to find you now!)

February 6, 2008 11:53 AM  
Blogger TK42ONE said...

Mary J. - Seeing as how I had to look that name up, it's not likely. I work for Intuit, who has great dental coverage, but I've spent so much time in the chair due to big teeth and a small jaw, I have a healthy respect for dentists. I've had teeth extracted without anaesthetic, cavities filled without anaesthetic, braces, permanent splints, and four wisdom teeth removed. If chewing Trident keeps me in the good graces of the Oral Gods, I'm happy.

And if anyone from Trident or Cadbury Adams would like to send me some swag, click on my name to find me.

February 6, 2008 12:02 PM  
Blogger Michael Natale said...

I think I'm about due for a trip (its been years, I dont floss either) to see what new gadgetry they'll throw at my unflossed sewer of a mouth.

Oh, and Brad Pitt doesn't go through this because he has people on his staff to floss his teeth FOR him.


February 6, 2008 12:21 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Mainjari: Truth is, I almost fell asleep in the chair at one point. That's when I decided I was being *too* relaxed....

February 6, 2008 1:43 PM  
Blogger Althalus said...

I haven't been to the dentist in about 2 years now, and I've got at least one filling that's fallen out since then. Possibly two.

I'm not a big fan of the dentist.

February 6, 2008 3:30 PM  
Blogger Parrish said...

The last time I went to a new dentist, he walked in the room for the first time, took one look and me and said "have you ever considered surgery?". A week ago I had the first one, where they broke the roof of my mouth, took out two wisdom teeth and took off part of my septum. Over the summer, I have the second one where the break my jaw and move it forward, along with replace the jaw joint, as mine is really worn away. Truly, dentists suck - just run the other way from now on. But well done on the no cavities! If you don't want to floss, a waterpik is a really good thing to get - fun to use and works well! Also, just ask for nitrous the next time - makes you high as a kite so there's no pain!!

February 6, 2008 3:33 PM  
Blogger Bek said...


It may be that nothing interesting happened to you while in the dentist chair but you turned your experience into an absolutely hilarious story. I especially loved your phrase,

"Well, it's too late. Our only option now is to surgically remove your whole mouth in the most excruciating manner possible."

And if I could only get so lucky to get an interesting dentist such as yours, I just might look a tiny bit forward to it. I mean, to invoke such fear into one's patient, wow. =)

The unfortunate thing about reading your post, is it reminded me I probably need to go to the damn dentist now. Thanks.


February 6, 2008 3:50 PM  
Blogger unique_stephen said...

I do like the clean feeling after the scaling. I habitually stick my tongue into the newly defined gap behind my bottom front teeth. My apprehension with the dentist tho' is is that it is just a weird experience.

My dentist is an old guy, well not that old, probably in his late 50's but he acts like a 20yo surfer dude. Drives a hot car and wears an iPod whilst he works. He keeps going through secretaries and hygienists, presumably because he's always chatting them up and I suspect he does occasionally get up to mischief with them, usually whilst I am waiting for my appointment which is always late in the afternoon and there is nobody else around. You can hear laughter and 'noises' coming from the back room like they are moving heavy equipment or something. Then the three of them emerge one at a time looking more than a little dishevelled. 'Ah Mr Unique_Steve' they say and usher me to the chair, but why are there wet crumpled tissues on my chair, and the sink running, and the hygienist putting her shoes back on, and Mr Dentist putting his watch back on, and was whatever they were doing good for their teeth?

February 6, 2008 3:58 PM  
Blogger Kelly Swails said...

See, and I prefer to think that Brad Pitt has to sit in the chair every three months because, you know, that makes me more human for me.

As for the dentist, I go every six months (I'll now be going every three, but I'll get to that in a mo'.) I inherited bad gums from my family. My teeth are great but my gums ... meh. When I was in college, and for about a year after graduation, I didn't have dental insurance, so I didn't go. When I finally got a job with benefits I high-tailed it to the dentist and was promptly informed that I had to have a root planing. This is basically a cleaning on steroids; they numb you and scrape the plaque off your roots. Not fun. After that I got dental-religion.

At my last appointment, the hygenist went around with her little pokey thing to measure the depth between my teeth and gums. It's supposed to be around 3mm ... on my 14 distal molar I had a 12mm pocket. So, then I got to go to a peridonist who numbed the hell outta my mouth, rooted around to clean out all the crap, and stitched my gums down so it'd reattach to my tooth. During wasn't so bad but after sucked, mainly because I refused the Vicodin and just cut the pain with Advil. So now I have to get cleanings between my cleanings (hence the every-three-month business).

February 6, 2008 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Jenna said...

I just came back from three hours at the dentist, having gotten my front tooth (which was broken years ago when my sister tripped me) cleaned of the bonding and then ground down, so as to allow enough room for the porcelain cap they're makin' extra special for me. Currently I have a temp on, and I'm under orders to bite down on nothing harder than, say, bread for the next three weeks, lest the temp pop off and I walk around looking like someone's fist took an especial liking to my mouth. I put my iPod in and dozed for most of the procedure. (And I feel your pain over the drilly thing with the water squirting - if not for having to constantly swallow, I probably would have been able to fall right asleep. Also, I have a headache now. Damn drills.)

Hey, at least I'm still a highschooler - I pay for nothing. Yesss.

And I don't floss - I just brush twice a day.

February 6, 2008 5:11 PM  
Anonymous jeff hotchkiss said...

I'm in the same boat. I haven't been to the dentist since I was in high school--I graduated in 1994. So it's been a while for me too. Stupid thing is I've been paying for dental insurance for two years and have yet to take advantage of it.

February 6, 2008 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Regann said...

Moral of the story?
Patrick Rothfuss is a badass.

February 6, 2008 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Offence Pat, but as a writer you should probably cut the cussing out. It comes accross as bad english to use such slang.

But anyway, I haven't been to the dentist in donks.

February 7, 2008 1:46 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

No offence Anonymous, but as a reader you should probably avoid giving writers advice on proper use of the language on their own blogs. It comes accross as meddlesome and irritating.

February 7, 2008 6:25 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Fuckin A, Pat!

(Sorry, that was for anonymous.)

I have the unfortunate problem that if I miss the Dentist for like, a day, I go in and suddenly my mouth is filled with cavities.

"Yes, sorry Kate. Not only are we going to have to drill every single tooth, but your tongue and the roof of your mouth and your nasal cavity and your throat...."

"Wait, didn't you like, fill that one already?"

"Uh, well, see.."

Well it's not as bad as all that, but do you remember Bill Murray in "Little Shop of Horrors", who screamed and filled his own mouth with cotton as Steve Martin tried to work, "Yeah, yeah! Bring it on! Oh yeah!!!!!!!"

That's sort of what I need to resort to while in the chair in order to keep going.

February 7, 2008 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Dana Redde said...

Ahaha, I do a similar thing when having electrolysis. If you can meditate while an electric current zaps you and kills the hair roots in places where the sun doesn't shine, you are far more hardcore than any Buddhist monk on some silly hill in Tibet.

Also, a little late here, but I wanted to express how I am totally bummed that the book was delayed a year, but that I completely understand that these things happen. Keep it up, man, I'll still be just as eager to read the second book come 2009 :)

Also, I actually do floss.

February 7, 2008 6:38 PM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

So, like a proper stalker I always stop by and check NOTW's sales rank (2,046) when I visit the site and there is a listing for the US paperback edition with a different cover! It looks like it may be more of the Dutch cover- I am not sure.
Anyway, pretty!

February 7, 2008 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Kip said...

Pat, I used a Gematriculator on your blog, It came out 31% evil and 69% good

February 8, 2008 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Miiru said...

"Cavitron" sounds like a dentistry-based uberweapon developed by a B-grade cartoon supervillian. Some generic version of Voltron, maybe, only in the opposite number.

It razes whole metropolises with its subsonic sucrose-emitter ray, creating aching, gaping holes in even the most resilient and well-fortified of teeth. Flossing will not keep this at bay! Mouthwash? Pfft. Diligent brushing avails you not. Nothing can stand in the way of the mighty Cavitron!

Except the requisite decay-proof superhero, of course; there's always one. Bugger. Party poopers, the lot of them.

February 8, 2008 9:34 PM  
Blogger logankstewart said...

Man, Pat, I'm so glad that the writers strike didn't really affect the super talented writers, like, say, you. Where would I be without your weekly wit?

February 8, 2008 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grrrrrrr dentists. When I was a kid obe of them almost killed me! Used to much of the old tear gas and although I did'nt die I felt like dying for a while. But 11 years. Man pat it did'nt take me that long to go back after my scare. Although I did use a diferent dentist lol

February 9, 2008 6:50 AM  
Blogger Alena said...

/begin lecture/

Pat, PLEASE floss properly and go to the dentist regularly! Studies show that people who develop gum disease (which most people who don't floss/scale will get, in some form) are also at higher risk for heart disease, because bacteria from the mouth gets into the bloodstream. While cavities are rarely fatal, heart disease can be, and we do NOT want you to keel over dead! Particularly not before all the books are out. ~_^

/end lecture/

My dentist has those nice padded reclining chairs, and I just about fall asleep while having my teeth cleaned. I pay just enough attention to open and close on cue... :)

February 9, 2008 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

No cavities? You're a lucky dude.

As part of my ongoing process of becoming a grown-up, I just resumed regular dental care also. Dentists suck. Cavities suck. Drills SUCK.

February 9, 2008 8:34 PM  
Anonymous BluHarlequin said...

I hate the dentist.
I have quite a few horror stories I could share, but I can't bear to type them out.

What I will mention however, is that I often meditate while getting tattooed. Once you cross over that threshold of pain (sometime in the third or fourth continuous hour) where your body is just screaming "I've got no more endorphins to give!" meditation is the only thing that'll get you through.

February 9, 2008 10:48 PM  
Blogger yellowdog granny said...

i hate the dentist..once years ago i had to have 4 wisdom teeth pulled..I was afraid they weren't going to give me enough gas so i grabbed the dentist's crotch and said ..just hurt me...I hurt you..he practically put me into a coma..

February 12, 2008 12:11 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

This post has been removed by the author.

February 15, 2008 10:22 PM  
Blogger Sylia said...

When it comes to the dentist and orthodontics in general, I think I personally have had more than my fair share. For example, I can sum up my history with my own version of the 12 days of x-mas. Here’s part of it: 5 years of waiting, 4 orthodontist, 3 sets of braces, 2 jaw surgeries, and a near death experience. This is funny as heck to sing and completely serious at the same time. Now that’s badass! Worst times of my life… but now I have a great smile! ~^_^~

Keep those teeth clean!

February 15, 2008 10:39 PM  
Blogger Kirk L. Shaw said...

Yes, the grim reaper look is huge! And yes, there's something about a bare-chested Kvothe or a bare-chested He-Man that just sells in the collector circles.

February 22, 2008 9:24 AM  
Blogger Navneet said...

If you have a broken tooth or tooth fracture, contact the emergency dentist as soon as possible. If the tooth is knocked out, place it in a glass of milk, call our office, and there is a good chance some dentist can re-implant it. Try not to touch the root portion of the tooth, I had some prob similar either I contacted
Sydney Dentist

May 28, 2009 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Dentists Santa Rosa said...

It would be great if there is a silent version of that dental tool to make things easier to manage.

January 3, 2010 7:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

RSS info

Previous Posts
Bookmark this Blog
(IE and Firefox users only - Safari users, click Command-D)


© 2007 Patrick Rothfuss, All Rights Reserved
Contact Patrick
website designed and hosted by