What did Florida ever do to him?

“I hate Florida!” my 5-year-old son declared from the back seat.


“It’s nasty.”

Ohhh … the flouride treatment!

The E-man, it seems, shares my … er … dislike for dental care. While his sister has cheerfully submitted to fillings, the E-man clenches during a routine tooth-cleaning.

It was inevitable, of course. One of my kids was bound to pick up on my own fear and loathing.

A few years ago, I found a new dentist, a nice man with a nice staff, who cater to my wussiness.

“Are you OK?” the hygienist asked on my first visit there, after noticing my balled-up fists and rigor-mortis pose.

Bear in mind, the woman was only cleaning my teeth.

I blame the many early years I was tortured by my childhood dentist. He pulled nearly every single baby tooth — “We need to make room for the ones coming in!” — and even four permanent ones.

All this extraction and moving around (braces! joy!) resulted in premature gum recession once I hit my 20s. These days, dentists are no longer so quick to pull teeth, especially permanent ones, realizing that too much rapid change can later cause problems, such as my gum recession, which led to gum grafts, which are both bloody and painful and just … gross.

I also have an area in my mouth that won’t go numb. This problem surface when I was a teen getting a cavity filled. When the dentist hit that tooth, I shot out  of the chair and knocked the drill out of his hand. (He was rather grumpy about that.) When I had the gum grafts, the periodontist also was unable to get that area numb. Imagine having someone sewing tissue to your gums, watching the needle go in and out as blood drips from the “thread” onto your little napkin-thingy while the doc apologizes the whole time about the lack of numbness.


And get this — not one of these people ever offered me gas, unlike the nice hygienist who took pity on me and my clenched fists.

And what a revelation!

Why was I nearly 40 before discovering the bliss of a little laughing gas?

At any rate, my visits these days are less scary. (This dentist also prescribes sedatives for scary procedures. Like getting fillings!)

But as I watched my little E-man on the table this morning, I still remembered the fear of my early days, especially when I saw his wee, trembling hands. He did great though. And no cavities, thank goodness, for I fear the E-man’s reaction to a novocaine needle.

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