Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dentist's Appointment Gets a Bit Out of Hand

To Our Readers

Has something you've read here startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? Do you have ideas to improve our coverage?
Then please write to us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the name of the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Email the Opinion Page Editor

As a naval officer, I saw my share of hair-raising situations. But I cower at the thought of a visit to the dentist. The minute I hear the horrible buzzing drone of the drill, I break out in a cold sweat. And when the dentist touches the drill bit to my aching tooth, it's all over. When an upper tooth is slated for "execution," it always seems to me that the drill will bore right through the roof of my mouth and into my brain. When lower teeth are on the block, I fear for my throat.

It's beyond me. We can send a man to the moon. We've invented the fax, e-mail, the Internet, supersonic airplanes and nuclear submarines. But the only improvement they've made to the dentist's drill since the birth of Christ was to attach an electric motor to it.

People with dentures have it easy. You don't hear much about "false toothache." But I still have my own teeth, and they're a source of torment in my old age.

Not long ago, I was laid low by the latest in a lifetime of toothaches. I took pain killers, I gargled, I even tried incantations. The pain would subside, only to return an hour or two later with renewed vigor. Finally, I summoned my sailor's courage and set off for the dentist's office.

The bench outside the office was already full. With women. I was the sixth in line. I heard the mosquito-like buzzing of the drill from behind the door. And suddenly the drill let out a piercing whine that shook the hallway, the whole clinic! The bench quivered beneath me. The whine ceased just as suddenly. The ladies sitting next to me looked nervously at one another. A young woman with eyes swollen from crying slipped through the office door and walked past us. She held a blood-spotted handkerchief over her mouth. The ladies watched her anxiously, then began giving up their place in line. Soon they were all looking at me, and I, as the only man present, had no choice but to thank them for their kindness, open the office door and walk toward my waiting executioner.

"Oh, it's you!" said the doctor. "I hope you won't be grabbing onto my hand today. The drill is not a toy. You could hurt someone."

I smiled pitifully and climbed into the chair.

The drill began to buzz and bore into my rotten tooth. Then it let out a frightful roar. I flailed my arms wildly and struck the doctor's arm, sending the drill flying into a woman's voluminous coiffure. She let out a yelp.

And then a young man in overalls, electric drill in hand, appeared from behind the screen shielding the sink. He was the handyman, and he had been making repairs in the office.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a journalist and pensioner living in Moscow.