Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Memories - The Dentist

Twin Falls Idaho Public Library
the dentist's office is to the left of it

Mom must have chosen Dr. Carpenter based on his location.  The public library and the city park (complete with wading pool and maple trees) were just across the street from his dental office.  Mom would drop us off at our appointments and then come back two, or three, or four hours later to pick us all up.  If you were one of the first ones in Dr. Carpenter's chair, and had no cavities, there was plenty of time to go to the library and play in the park until everyone else was done.  Of course, going to the park and library was after you stopped by the receptionist's desk and picked an expandable, be-jeweled ring from the box.

Because we lived thirty miles from town and our dentist appointments took all morning (there were ten of us kids), we stopped at a fast food drive-in after our exams. Those who had cavities got milkshakes; those without cavities got a hamburger and french fries.

I've found milkshakes consoling ever since.

Today I had another dental appointment.  As the dental assistant suctioned saliva, I thought of Dr. Carpenter's office and the green sink with swirling water that was next to each dental chair.  Remember how we used to spit in the bowl?  I had forgotten all about that until today.  But I didn't forget about going to get a milkshake after the appointment.  I drove straight to DQ and ordered a medium hot fudge one.  And guess what?  Anah from Texas sent me a darling card a month ago with $10 in it.  I'd mentioned in a post that I don't like going to the dentist anymore.  Anah said she hated the dentist too; the $10 was for future dentist-visit milkshakes.  Her thoughtfulness warmed me through and through, and the milkshake soothed my aching mouth.  Thank you Anah for your gift. It was very much appreciated.

(By the way, the dentist told me yesterday that my 40 year old fillings - Dr. Carpenter's fillings - were really good ones.  He said fillings never last that long.  He said they usually give them 10 or so years maximum.  He said that for the supplies and technology available then he had done a good job.  Dr. Carpenter had a red nose with lots of purple veins.  Dentists didn't wear masks back then like they do now.  Staring at his nose up close for hours and hours like I did, I often thought I could spot him in a police line-up should someone ever need me to.  No one ever needed me to though.  Maybe Mom chose him on skill, and because he wasn't a criminal instead of location.  Maybe he was brilliant and chose his location.)

How about you?  Were expandable rings your dentist prize, too?  I don't remember what they gave the boys do you?  Do you remember having to spit in the swirling mini-sinks?


Jill said...

I went to the dentist last week and had no cavities! I bought myself a big Vanilla Coke afterward.

One of my childhood dentists (we moved a lot so we had many) let us choose a small ceramic relief of an animal that we could take home and paint. I thought it was awesome.

I definitely remember spitting into the little sink!

My kids are so spoiled now, they get to wear headphones and watch a movie on a TV in the ceiling while they get their teeth cleaned!

melanie said...

I loved the tiny cup they gave you to swish with right before you spit into the small sink.

I used to not care about going to the dentist but now it's anxiety plus. I better adopt the milkshake reward system. That's sure to ease the nerves. Hot fudge shake sounds delicious!

Susan said...

I thought it looked like a mini toilet! :)

The dentist doesn't bother me except the bills....

Dr. James DeFinnis said...

A milkshake, hamburger, and fries? Your mom definitely knew how to reward you. If you'll think about it, a reward system is a great way to keep a child’s interest in to visiting a dentist, as it can be a challenge to convince some children to go to the dentist. But another way to reassure a child how wonderful it is to go to a dentist is to give the child a great experience. And this can be arranged by choosing the right clinic, staffed with professionals who know their way into winning a child's trust, and the parents', for that matter. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memory!

Jamie @

PattyRules said...

Great post, I miss the old times of dentistry. Reminds me of my childhood.
Philadelphia Dentist

Alisa said...

I commented on this a while back and just as I was about to hit publish I lost the screen. I've been meaning to re-comment ever since.
I LOVE the dentist. I feel like its a spa for my mouth. Our family has different dentists. If someone doesn't have a good experience then they switch to find a dentist/hygienist/dental office they like. We go too often (3 times a year) to not like it.
I really like our dentist ... I won an IPad from him this summer for referrals. Better than any toy chest prize I have ever gotten!

Leigh Hamilton said...

Dentists are some of those people that you need to psyche yourself up before you go for a visit. Your Dr. Carpenter, with his 40-year-old fillings still going strong, must've been a skilled one. It's not quite often you'd see dentists with that skill nowadays even with today's technology, so you were quite lucky your mom brought you to a good one.
Leigh Hamilton @ Arborridge Family Dental