I think most people would agree; going to the dentist isn’t the most pleasant experience there is.
From sitting with your mouth wide open while a virtual stranger judges your oral hygiene to the bone-chilling sound and feel of plaque being scraped away, it’s one of those things that, if we knew our teeth wouldn’t start decaying or falling out, we’d probably choose to avoid.
Trips to the dentist are, however, a pretty necessary evil. That’s why today, March 6, is Dentist’s Day – a chance to celebrate dentists and recognise that they are actually there to help, and not just to get a thrill out of prodding around in people’s mouths.
Still, although the general theme of the day is one of celebration, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to share some of the more dramatic and unfortunate dentist experiences out there, such as the disastrous tale that belongs to 29-year-old Chelsey, from northern California.
Chelsey’s experience took place a decade ago when she was 19, but it’s stuck with her through the years, and it’s easy to understand why. At the time, she had to schedule an emergency root canal for which she was given some Valium to take beforehand.
The pharmacist gave the medication to Chelsey’s mum, and told her to only give her half a dose because of her age and the strength of the Valium. As it turned out, Chelsey’s mum gave her the full dose.
When reflecting on the day, Chelsey is only able to remember taking the Valium and getting in the car with her mum to go to the dentist. At 7pm, she woke to find herself on the couch at home, with a towel on her face and no recollection of what had happened.
Thankfully her mum was there to fill her in, though the information was probably something Chelsey could have lived without. It turned out that as soon as the staff at the dentist managed to get Chelsey into the chair, she’d puked. Then, when the dentist attempted to open her mouth, she bit him.
The dentist was eventually able to put on a temporary crown, but after the events that unfolded Chelsey decided never to return to the same dentist again.
The 29-year-old isn’t the only one to have used her teeth as a weapon while visiting the dentist, as Philadelphia resident Lex told UNILAD she, too, bit her dentist.
This particular biting incident took place while Lex was in her freshman year at school, when her mum ‘surprised’ her by making the appointment. The now-25-year-old has ‘always hated doctors of any kind’, though the dentist ‘gave [her] an extra layer of anxiety’ so she attended the appointment with her best friend for support.
Once there, Lex learned she would be getting a filling, prompting ‘peak anxiousness’ as she had no idea what to expect. Things only got worse when she was told she’d have a needle injected into her mouth, and she ‘burst into tears’, explaining: ‘My fear of doctors is bad, but my fear of needles is worse. I was trembling.’
After feeling embarrassed about her tears, Lex managed to stop crying but her body still wasn’t relaxed. As the dentist began the procedure she closed her eyes and ‘tried to ignore the sounds’, but her reflexes ultimately got the better of her and she ‘clamped down hard on his fingers’.
Recalling the unfortunate incident, Lex said:
I was so embarrassed I was speechless. I thankfully did not injure him – though I don’t think he would’ve told me if I did leave a mark.
I don’t think it was his first time being bitten, but I do think it was his first time being bitten by an 18-year-old girl. I never in a million years thought I could do something so childish, but my reflexes got the best of me.
Following the incident, Lex decided she could never go back to the same dentist and set out on a mission to find someone who didn’t know of her snappy history.
While there are no doubt an abundance of unfortunate patient stories out there, those in the dentist’s chair aren’t the only ones with stories to tell. One dentist, identified by the pseudonym John, shared some stories that he and a colleague have experienced over the years, stretching back to their days as dentistry students.
Speaking to UNILAD, John recalled:
Giving my first injection on a live patient was terrifying. I’d placed the needle into their mouth and I was pressing the plunger, but while the anaesthetic liquid was emptying, the tissue was not swelling as you would expect.
I thought the situation was very odd, until I noticed the needle was a little too far in. It turns out I’d passed the needle through the side of the patient’s mouth, and then back out of their cheek, so anaesthetic was dripping out onto their napkin.
Fortunately, the patient hadn’t noticed and the needle was withdrawn, no harm done. Thankfully, the next injection worked better.
On another occasion, John’s colleague was working with a large, strong patient who agreed to have some sedation in order to deal with the extraction of two troublesome teeth.
The dentist provided the sedation as agreed, giving the appropriate dose for the patient’s size, and the patient seemed calm and appropriately sleepy right up until the dentist started the treatment.
At that point, the patient seemingly changed his mind about the whole thing and sat up in the chair before physically lifting the dentist out of his way. He ‘drunkenly but determinedly’ staggered out of the surgery and left the dentist’s practice altogether, followed by his wife and the dentist who were desperately trying to get him to come back.
In his drugged-up bid to escape, the man attempted to cross a road only to be ‘gently’ knocked to the ground by a car.
The dentist recalled:
He lay dazed for a few moments before rising again and wandering off home, followed some way behind by his poor wife. I’m pleased to report all parties survived fit and well, and a general anaesthetic was successfully used at the patient’s treatment next time.
Other mishaps and bizarre experiences that John and his colleague have experienced over the years include a patient handing off his wig to the nurse before the chair was reclined, asking them to ‘just put this somewhere safe while I’m down there’, and a small child with a strong legs, good aim and a lack of wariness about how one swift kick can send a man to the ground.
It’s clear, then, that while patients might dread the day their dentist appointment rolls around, the dentists themselves don’t always get off lightly. With that in mind, I think it’s only right that we give dentists the appreciation they deserve on Dentist’s Day!
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
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