Friday, September 18, 2009

What Did He Say?

To say I'm not a fan of the dentist is an understatement! But then again, who loves getting their teeth cleaned or drilled? Not me, I'm a wimp, but it's one of those things you just have to do and get it over with.

On my Monday visit, I noticed a definite change around my dentist's office. Gone was the perky hygienist who'd been cleaning my teeth the the past six years. Gone was the receptionist who always called the day before an appointment to reconfirm and gone with my happy, friendly dentist. In his place was a crabby guy who looked just like my regular dentist only this guy had a full-on attitude and a giant chip on his shoulder.

Apparently, the sagging economy has made it's way to the dental biz and he was not happy about picking up the slack. He'd laid off staff and was once again a "working stiff" doing the "grunt work". Yep, he actually said those words. It was early so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought perhaps he hadn't had his morning coffee yet.

Dentist went on to grouse about being "reduced" to cleaning my teeth and having to "lug around" the lead x-ray apron all by his lonesome. Let me tell you, there was a lot of moaning and groaning, huffing and puffing, and whining going on, and it was only 8:15 in the morning! I wanted to speed dial Starbucks for a delivery to shut him up.

The poor pitiful doc had to do his own charting too-- Which made me wondered where his pen had been before my oral exam because each time he picked it up to write, he then threw the pen back down on my chart and stuck his rubber-gloved hands into my mouth again. I'm guessing he does that with all his patients. It gave me pause and a couple of WTH? moments.

While he was digging around in my mouth for the cleaning, I squinted to read his framed diplomas hanging on the walls. He was so rough I figured it must have been quite a while since he'd taken a class in "gentle" cleaning. Low and behold he graduated in 1973; I'm sure he'd forgotten most of what he learned.

Doc Dentist has joked over the years that he "can't make any money off my mouth". I'm lucky to only have two cavities in my 51 year old teeth, but now, apparently, it wasn't a joke anymore. With his hands and a couple of instruments jammed in my mouth, my lips stretched wider than the Grand Canyon, exasperated, Doc asked if I'd recently had my teeth whitened, which I had-- at Brite Smile. That prompted a rant about how tough business was for him. Um, okay, but he doesn't offer Brite Smile.

Oblivious to my discomfort and squirming from his polishing drill jabbing my mouth, Doc then launched into a sales pitch for a $17 tube of whitening tooth paste. Yes, seventeen dollars and it was for a "travel size" tube! I scanned the room for a mirror to see if I wore a stupid face that day.

Doc was working it too-- non-stop-- brighter, whiter, fantastic, blah, blah, blah. I'm making hand gestures of "no thanks". He kept talking. I give him a thumbs down. The sales pitch continued. I try to make "no thanks" noises while he nearly drowns me with the water spray. Finally I close my eyes with my hands folded tightly together so as not to give him the middle finger salute.

At last I was allowed to rinse and he asked how many tubes of toothpaste I wanted. I ignore him. "How about some new sparkle mouthwash to go with it?" he asks! "I'll give you a good price."

Did I step into The Twilight Zone, Let's Make a Deal or the friggin nut house without realizing it? My dentist was hocking unnecessary stuff to beef up his sales? What's next-- Amway, Tupperware, Avon?

By now, my head is ready to poop off my shoulders and frankly, I'm none too please by the strong arm sales tactics. I wiped my mouth, dried my face and pulled bits of mystery stuff from my hair before I turn around and firmly, but politely, said no thank you. One. Last. Time. Then I walked out to the billing station.

The doc wrote up my $30 co-pay invoice himself and asked for CASH! When I gave him two twenty dollar bills he told me he didn't have any change. Huh? I offered a check or credit card. Nope, he only accepts cash now. So I folded my arms and said I'd give him twenty now and mail him a check for ten or HE could make change, but I was not leaving him forty bucks-- As if the extra ten dollars was a tip?!?!

Houston we have a problem. We both stood there with our arms folded in a stare down.

Tick, tick, tick....

He blinked first.... And actually pulled a wad of cash out of his pants pocket and handed me ten bucks!

As you might imagine, I did not get the usual free toothbrush and dental floss in the little plastic bag with smile faces on it. And I did not pre-book my next appointment in six months. Oh yeah, and he doesn't validate for parking anymore either.

Can anyone recommend a good dentist-- without an attitude?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna


  1. Holy crap you have got to be kidding me! My brother in law is a dentist in Utah, probably to far of a commute? Seriously that had to be so uncomfortable...I would of ran for the door and never looked back. Wow!

  2. It's really a bad sign when your head wants to "poop" off your shoulders, Joanna.

    Gosh, you poor thing. I am truly your soul sistah when it comes to all things dental - and get this... my brother-in-law is one of the finest dentists in Jacksonville! Do I go see him every six months? Nope. Every year? Nope. Haven't been to him in ages. Ever since the four impacted wisdom teeth experience...

    But in fairness to Doctor Bob, his practice is way on the other side of East Jabib (do you have any idea how huge Jacksonville is geographically?) and I have a sweet, young convenient dentist right here in Saint Johns County. Do I go every six months? Nope. Hehehe.

    Anyway - your post had me squirming right along with you - and laughing my fanny off. A curmudgeonly-up-selling-marketing-genius dentist is pretty funny business, but not nearly as funny as YOU! And you're such a gifter writer, Joanna. I do love you so!

  3. So, it was just you and the doctor in the room! I wouldn't climbed onto the chair and if I did, I wouldn't linger for my ten bucks. I would have ran out the door!

  4. Dang, girl! I'm guessing he has some other issue besides just the economy. Maybe gambling? Or philandering with prostitutes?

  5. Ouch! I am getting ready to make my appt. at the dentist....I hope our dentists aren't related!

  6. If the scene had been done in black and white, it could definitely have been, "The Twilight Zone". I understand dentists like this exist, but in Los Angeles and your personal dentist?? Oy!

    You're apparently nicer than I am, Joanna. I wouldn't let the out-of-practice-cleaning-teeth curmudgeon put his hands, gloved or not (apparently that didn't mean much to him,either), in my mouth.

    Glad you made it out of there okay! :)

  7. I agree with Beth - this guy has some real personal issues going on. Give him the benefit of the doubt and try him one more time perhaps. But no more! I am looking for a dentist too, though, I have to say. I don't like the rude way my new dentist speaks to his nurse. And the last time I saw my hygienist - just before I went to France - it cost me 5 times as much as the previous visit!! Good luck. :-)

  8. I haven't been back to my dentist either. Last time I was there his WIFE was the receptionist, and the whole time I was in the waiting room she was "working the phones" trying to get patients to come in and fill some empty spots they had.

    It was very off putting!! I can't believe your dentist will only take cash.

  9. Wow! Do not return to him. I'm lucky that I have a family full of dentists. Every Thanksgiving, we all trek to the office for x-rays, cleaning and fillings. I have you beat in this category. I have zero cavities and my kids do too. Ha!!

    On the other hand, I did have to shell out $5,000. for braces.

  10. I thinks it's time to change dentists. Very unprofessional treatment.

  11. What an experience!! I would never return there either!
    I just went to the dentist last month too, but it seems the economy is this work area is still booming in our country.
    When you have to wait an hour before getting into the chair.......that tells me there is no shortage on work!

  12. "I scanned the room for a mirror to see if I wore a stupid face that day". That is a good one. Is that yours? Can I borrow that line? Hehheh, that is a good one. The whole story was written in your inimitable way: Classy, humorous, enlightening, with a tinge of regret.

  13. Oh, my. I feel creeped out just reading your post - can't imagine how awful you felt being in there. Ick!

  14. Scary. Very Scary.

    lol @ Alix ... i saw that too and laughed ...
    the pooping shoulders ...

  15. Holy Crap! That is horrible! I would most definetly be looking for a different dentist!

  16. OMG, as if going to the dentist isn't a nasty enough experience in and of itself! Yuck!

  17. That man our right lied to you about not having change. Your visit was so bad, I swear Jay Leno could have made it up. No doubt you left thinking..Did this really happen? Sounds like with that customer service, he won't be doing grunt work or any work very much longer. Word of mouth travels quickly.

  18. Oh my gosh! I really hate going to the dentist. I have often been heard saying I'd rather have a baby than go to the dentist, who makes plenty of moola on this imperfect mouth. Truly the only person I want to hear grunting and moaning in the chair is ME. I figure if I'm paying I at least have the right!

    The 'sample' tube of toothpaste he tried to sell was probably just that...a sample. He's probably sellin' the giveaway toothbrushes and floss too! Hope you are shopping for a new dentist.

    Have a blessed Friday and stay out of THE CHAIR!!!

  19. What a horrible experience! Does 1-800-Dentist takes reviews? I'd find out!

    I've had my share (and then some) of bad dentists in the past. I went to one when I was a teenager who wouldn't numb my mouth even after I told him I was in intense pain. "I'm not working anywhere near the nerve, it can't possibly hurt" was the response I got, and then he continued the oral torture. The man didn't know what he was doing and nearly ruined my teeth. I'm paying for it dearly now.

  20. That is awful! You definitely need to go to a new dentist. It's bad enough going anyway, but when those things are added, I wouldn't go back!

  21. Funny you should have a post about this. Last month was both me and my hubby's six month cleaning appointment. I called them up a week early and told the friendly receptionist our economic plight (we've been going there for years) and wondered if they could give us a little break this time on the cost of the cleanings. I mean, really, for long time patients maybe somewhere between a 10 - 20% discount on a $120.00 cleaning. (We don't have dental insurance). NOPE!! No can do. Sorry. Needless to say, we canceled our appointments. We'll just be brushing, flossing, and gargling a bit more often for the next six months while we decide whether or not this dentist is worth going back to.

  22. I hate dentists. If you have time, go back in my archives and find "Open Wide and say Ahh"

  23. I have a wonderful dentist. You'll have to drive to Oregon to see him, but the trip is lovely and he'll treat you with great respect and dignity.

    The fact that it took me about 40 years to find a good dentist leads me to believe that you're not alone.

  24. reafdaguugsrrgggrr!@!!!!#

    This just gets my panties in a twist!!!

    i have worked my way from

    hospital house keeper to
    personal care worker to
    certified nursing assistant to
    registered nurse to
    nurse practitioner

    and let me tell you what!!!!!!!!!!

    it's all part of the deal!

    Even though I am the higher level I still perform bits and pieces of every level!!

    I still give all the care and skill that that climb gave me!

    so mr. effing stupid dentist pants!


    and start hauling that apron around, making change, scraping teeth, vacuuming your office, cleaning the toliets and SUCK IT UP!!!

    because health care is a job of manyall

    dude. uncalled for!!

    I'd go back to him one more time just to slap him upside the head!!!


  25. Argh... You need to change dentist's now!

    I have a wonderful woman here in Sweden whose motto is that dentistry should not hurt! She's my kinda gal!

  26. Egads! I would never go back there. The man sounds like he is going through some kind of mid-life crisis or something. The male dentists I know don't see women patients alone. Going to the dentist is bad enough...avoid one that makes your head want to "poop" off you shoulders.

  27. Ouch! Sorry you had to be on the receiving end of that visit. I wonder if he is having a melt down. How old is he? On the bright side you have clean shiny teeth for 6 months. smile... Have a golden weekend my friend!! xoxo

    PS thanks you for always brightening my days! I love how you write. Are you a writer by day?

  28. OMG! That's un-freaking-believable!
    We just love our dentist, sorry you live so far away. He's so laid back, almost always wears jeans, and it's just him, his asst., receptionist, and a part-time woman that makes phone calls.
    Other than a ridiculous $175 toothbrush he somehow coerced me into buying several years ago (and never really got used beyond the novelty stage), he doesn't even charge for office visits.
    Hope you find someone new, and within the next 6 mos.!!

  29. I'm thinking you are going to start to look for a new dentist? if he graduated in 1973 and didn't have enough of a stash to at least keep 1 employee on, it makes you wonder, doesn't it, about how he ran his business? Seems like he should have had a bit of a buffer built up to at least keep a part-time employee there to help run the office; he seems like a disaster ready to happen


  30. I'm thinkin' if all those things he was doing that his assistants used to do were considered "grunt work" he wasn't a very pleasant person to work for. Probably didn't pay very well either, since it's all just grunt work. sheesh.

    Great post. Makes me appreciate my own dentist who is so concerned that I might feel even a hint of pain.

  31. Wow. I cannot imagine having to sit through all of that unable to speak! What a dickhead! I hope he doesn't "lose" your file when your new dentist asks for it to be transferred over...

  32. Hi all, yep "your head "pooping" off your shoulders" is a term we use around here versus "popping". I don't know where it come from but we've been saying it for years! i guess it landed in this post out of habit.

    I love hearing from you! Keep those cards and letters coming.

  33. Okay, there was absolutely nothing about this piece to make me laugh because it's so freaking not funny.

    Except, except, I get to Alix's comment and howled. Good pick up there, sister!!!!

    You know, if you only had WTH moments with this, you're a better woman than I, (no surprises there,) because each minute you were there is an absolute WTFFFF moment!

    I've heard lots of dentist horror stories and had my own fair share, but by far this one is the worst...

    Oh holy gawd!

  34. WHAT. A. JERK! At least you won in the end... and I hope you find a nicer dentist in future.

  35. Once again, your writing talent peeks through. You took a routine dental visit and presented it in a way that it was actually fun to read about.

    That dentist needs a wake-up call. Find yourself another one.

  36. WOW. I am speechless. And I thought my old dentist was bad. She seems downright sweet in comparison! I hope you find a better dentist!

  37. That is a story...and I am still laughing.....What a nut

  38. Yikes! I'm so sorry! I love my dentist but I hate going to see him. Does that make sense? I doubt if you want to travel all the way to South Park to see mine so let your fingers do the walking. It's time you replace your Dentist! Good luck finding one with help/staff!


  39. Wow that was some experience! Good for you for not giving him forty. As if a visit to the dentist is any fun in the first place, that you had to go through so much more.

  40. Another great post, girl. And I'm sure Mr. Dentist would have quite a bit to explain about his expenses, insurance companies, etc....but I'm betting keeping on just one hygienist would have saved him money in the long run!

    Good luck finding a new dentist; I've been looking for 4 years here and still am not satisfied. Hmph.

  41. holy ripoff artist batman. i cant believe he lied about the change. the whole episode blows my mind. i grew up with a dentist whose name was Dr joke, his real name and he earned every sylable. lol. happy friday friend.

  42. Wow.. I'd have been looking around for the camera thinking it must be some sort of joke. This man does not like his job.. or himself. And who could blame him?

  43. I thought you'd been caught up in a Candid Camera prank but to my horror, no!!!!!

    Love the way you write tho', great style.

    I'm hooked and want to follow you to find out more about you 'cos obviously, you're fun!!

    Please pop over to see my blog. I'm new to blogging but I'm sure you'll find something in my posts that you'll like!

    Back soon!

  44. Man! I would have told him off so bad (after he was done, of course!). That guy deserves to be reported to the Dental Association, he's one pushy bastard, that's for sure!

  45. it was just you and the doctor in the room! I wouldn't climbed onto the chair and if I did, I wouldn't linger for my ten bucks.
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  46. My dentist is pretty good - although he does have an annoying tendency to talk to me as if I'm four years old...

  47. My dentist is young, just starting out - and a woman. She's very sweet and just plain glad to have a job. That's why I like her - and she's talented in the toothy sorta way, which is an added plus. However, let me say - I have had my share of a long list of sorry attitude dentists. It't taken me 45 years to find this girl. I'm keepin' her.

  48. AGHHHHHHH - said with sparkly teeth grin....

    Joanna, as usual, you write so well! Noticed and loved the pooping head :).

    My old dentist had an assistant but did the cleaning himself and he was fabulous - my new dentist has help, but they're still great - come to NC!

    Are you sure you're not stuck in the middle of a "Monk" episode, and your REAL dentist and his staff are bound and gagged in the closet somewhere?

  49. This is probably the most bizarre post I've ever read about a "dental experience". :(

    Good Lord!

    I would NEVER go back to him.

    Is there some professional association you could report him to? What an idiot!

  50. Definitely time for a new dentist! What a horrible appointment!

  51. It's all been said, so I'll just say the guy's a jerk. Time to move on.

    Thanks so much for your C-U-T-E comment today. : )

  52. WOW - OMG - Unbelievable
    you only had TWO cavities in 51 years!! seems like all the other comments missed that.

    I dropped a dentist once just before his office started being a jerk about the billing. I think if you are a long time patient they should try to keep you as a patient. It's not a fast food joint.

  53. Congrats on your good teeth. I have bought at least two homes, several cars and vacations for my dentist.

  54. I can't help but Laugh out loud.
    I hate the dentist anyway..but this guy really is from the zone!

  55. I fly to the Bay Area from OC for my dental work, because I didn't care for the service down here.

  56. Holy cow! Maybe he's subconsciously trying to get out of the business and retire in Florida?! What a Krusty Krab!

  57. Silly, silly man. He may be *highly* stressed and financially at breaking point but the sad fact is he's just shot himself in the foot and lost a patient. Doh!

  58. Hilarious! I am sure it wasn't funny at that moment, but this guy is not going to stay in business for too long.

  59. Ugh, thats awful! The crappy part is they've practically got you barricaded down to that chair so you can't really turn and run can you. I think thats why they put those bibs on ya and at the dr's they have you put on those gowns sometimes. Ha. I hope you're able to find a normal nice dentist soon.


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