Reading Red Flags or If you feel like you’re going to throw up, just leave.

I’ve just had the absolute worst dental experience ever which was confirmed to me not only by a yelp review (seen after the appointment) calling the him the absolute worst dentist ever but also by this I might have to throw up kind of feeling happening in the region of my mid stomach. Another thing this yelp review said is the only reason you should go to this dentist is to write about it so he did. And now, so will I.

This is a lesson in red flags.  Red flag number one. Today 11am there was one other patient on the sign in list and the date next to that name was yesterday at 11am.  I almost questioned whether or not the date today was yesterday’s date instead because it seemed so unusual to me that no one had come to the office since the day before.  But because the office was so close to the coffee shop I went to this morning and because I thought that was a sign, I stayed.

Red flag number two.  I had to take a full set of X-rays even though I said I had a full set of X-rays in the past year and a half and I wanted to minimize the number of X-rays I have and could I just have a cleaning.  The receptionist told me that the kind of radiation their machine puts out was exactly as safe as going out into the sun one day and that she could use the machine every day for 10 days and be just fine.  That sounded like something I hadn’t heard of before so I felt a little compelled to give it a try.  But when I questioned further she said to me that even pregnant women had X-rays so I shouldn’t worry so much and I said out loud but more to myself: that isn’t true.

OK when you’re saying things to yourself but out loud is when it’s time to just walk out.  Which I did but only after I went to the doctor and saw him sitting in a wheel chair with an amputated leg and felt his not so fresh breath on my face and let him get mad at me because, “please it’s 11:30, time is passing!”  So why did I walk back in just a few moments later, you might ask? Because I hate the dentist and I didn’t want to take my whole day finding another one and besides which how bad can it be.

Answer, very. When then doctor was reviewing my sheet of my health history with me I noticed that his left hand was shaking.  And he was talking to me like he was giving a performance, beginning with – Ms. Kramer, have you seen the movie Kramer vs. Kramer.  I saw it in London in – and he paused to see if I could guess the year – and when I didn’t he filled in the time with the word – eighty….and then dragged his voice out until I said two.  Eighty two, yes, he said, very good.  And he said that was a good time, a very good time, when things were good and the leg was still there, gesturing toward his waist.

Then I stopped counting the flags. My eyes glazed over.  I started feeling nauseous.  Are you sure you are OK, he asked, but for the first time, any breakfast? as if that a banana milk shake in the am would have helped to put me at ease.  How is a dentist going to perform his service with a shaking hand? Can I trust a dentist with stale breath?  And why is he called everyone Momo?

Which he was.  First his receptionist was Momo and then the dental hygienist was Momo and then finally, when his hands were in my mouth, I was Momo too.  The trouble is that I do think this dentist was very knowledgable.  He saw things in my mouth that were a little unique and showed that he cared “See these holes, these are genetic and they happen with people who like lemon or acid” but because he kept micro-managing his dental hygienist to make up for the fact that his left hand was shaking the side of the mirror into my gums, I just don’t want to give him any credit at all.


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