I still have nightmares about it.
I was 8, in for what I was told was a “routine check-up.” At a young age, I had taken exception to the poking and prodding that came with visits to the dentist. I showed an abnormally high pain tolerance for a kid, but I was paralyzed by any and all mouth pain.
Of course, my passion for candy and pop didn’t help my cause. I remember thinking up strategies when at the neighborhood candy store, seeking out the one candy-pop combination that would create the most chaotic chemical reaction possible. (Oh, how I wish I would’ve known.) This led to the corrosion of countless molars. If not for baby teeth — which essentially serve as practice for future dental hygiene — I would be toothless, gumming mashed potatoes every meal.
At the “routine check-up,” it was discovered I had a cavity that was beyond repair. I remember my well-meaning dentist — long on corny jokes, short on tact — bringing my mother in to tell me I was having some extra work done. Novocaine was injected into the lower right-side of my gums, below the back-most molar. The dentist began wedging his metal tools into my small mouth.
He squeezed my shoulder, and said, “You’re going to feel a sensation, like this.”
I shrank in the chair.
“That doesn’t hurt, right? It’s just a lot of pressure.”
The novacaine eventually took and my mouth felt loose and rubbery. The dentist worked his pointy, metallic instruments between my molars, and with two quick cranks, he popped my molar from its socket, and I felt it roll across my dry tongue with the coppery taste of blood following right after. I felt no pain, in the traditional sense, but began to sob. Something had been forcefully removed from me. I didn’t like it.
When I was taken out to my mother, it was as if I had been a long-term P.O.W., taken back to my country’s embassy. I cried uncontrollably, aghast at the dentist for violating whatever trust I would ever have in future “routine check-ups.”
* * * * *
I wish my dentist had given me whatever they gave Davd, the boy who’s anesthetic trip was caught on tape by his father and then posted on YouTube. Sixteen-million hits later, David and his parents appeared on NBC Today to respond to criticism that broadcasting their drugged-up son was in poor taste. Here’s the original video:
(I hadn’t seen the original “David After Dentist” until recently. I first saw this one, a mash-up with Christian Bale’s on-set exploits while filming “Terminator: Salvation.”)
Without any kids of my own, I’m hardly in a place to argue whether David’s parents were right or wrong to post the video. I do think it’s wrong that people allege the parents are “exploiting” their son, though. It’s not like they’re making money off the YouTube sensation. What are they supposed to do? Hit the lecture circuit? Co-write a book about practices in children’s dentistry? Let’em go. They seem like good enough people to me. Better than, say…dentists.