I push the door open. The bell tinkles, with a soft but shrill ring. A wave of rubber gloves and disinfectant masked with cheap air freshener washes over me. Chairs are cluttered in the waiting room of the dentists. Clusters of magazines lie on the scratched wood of the coffee tables, shiny bright plastic screaming out logos and slogans. A little way forward from where I stand is a desk. A smiling receptionist sits there. She seems to have been expecting me somehow, as she indicates to the couches and chairs.
A few nervous patients are already there. They try to avert their eyes from the closed, threatening doors leading to the dental surgery rooms, where an ominous high pitched whirring sound is coming from. Occasionally, I hear a muffled thud, or yell. One by one, the receptionist calls out the patients name; “Baker, John! ” or, “Higgins, Samantha! ” Plastered on the walls are dramatic “Before/After” photos. They show yellow teeth, set crookedly in red raw gums becoming brilliantly white and straight.
The walls are painted a stark, clinical white, however photographs of people with toothy grins beam down at me, from newspaper clippings over the years. It must be my imagination, but already I can taste the slightly stale, bubblegum flavoured gloves, the cool hard metal of the examining probe, and the chink clink it makes when it sometimes collides with my teeth. I can feel the vinyl of the reclining chairs, which are covered in plastic, and also which clammy legs have a habit to stick to.
In my mind I see the perfect teeth of my dentist, an ideal advertisement for his clinic. A sudden tapping of high heeled shoes from the corridor awakens me from my day dreaming. I look up. My pulse quickens, and my hands sweat. I swallow the lump in my throat that has accumulated somehow. Blood is pounding through my head, but even that cannot block out the dreaded words that I hear next; “Barron, Cissie, Doctor Lush will see you now. ”
- Sohn, Woosung, and Amid I. Ismail. “Regular dental visits and dental anxiety in an adult dentate population.” The Journal of the American Dental Association 136.1 (2005): 58-66.
- Bader, James D., and Daniel A. Shugars. “Descriptive models of restorative treatment decisions.” Journal of public health dentistry 58.3 (1998): 210-219.
- Ciesielski, Carol, et al. “Transmission of human immunodeficiency virus in a dental practice.” Annals of Internal Medicine 116.10 (1992): 798-805.