Dentistry has advanced greatly in the last 50 years.
Return with me to the past….circa 1959… and meet the dentist of my childhood…Dr. DeWitt (his name must be said with a drop in vocal tone of about 2 octaves.)
Starting from the age of about 10 my mother would drop me off at his office for my check-up while she ran errands. Slowly, I would open the car door ….”screwing my courage to the sticking place” and alone, step into the abyss. My mother never had a clue.
Dr. DeWitt’s (octaves) office was on the 2nd floor of an old brownstone building. I entered through wood and glass doors to be confronted by a dark, narrow staircase.
Nobody else ever seemed to be on the stairs. I would climb the stairs slowly …one by one…knowing Dr. DeWitt (octaves), awaited me, in the dark…. at the top.
His office door was on the left. His reception area was right out of a 1940’s detective movie….transom above the door….receptionist (in a nurse’s uniform) at a large oak desk….chairs of chocolate brown wood with green leathery upholstery.
I always had to sit and wait….I felt that this was by design. My fear became exquisite.
Then the nurse(?) arose from the desk and would say DR. DeWITT (octaves) WILL SEE YOU NOW.
I was led into the laBORatory. It had a dental chair surrounded by metal pulls that all seemed to contain sharp points. The chair faced a large bay window with a view to the street below.
Around the edges of the room were white metal cabinets with skinny drawers that hid INSTRUMENTS.
The nurse (?) would place me in THE CHAIR, clip a paper bib around me, and then step to the side ….
Enter… Dr Dewitt (octaves)!
He was old (at least 40) and he always dressed in a uniform that was the same kind of lab tunic worn by mad scientists and Dr. Kildare.
Dr. DeWitt (octaves) greeted me in the same manner every time…”Hello little missy” (octaves)
With my heart pumping in my throat…all I could do was squeak.
The nurse (?) tipped the chair back and Dr. DeWitt (octaves) would begin pumping on a pedal with his foot to raise me up closer…closer…closer.
He had a light that he would swing around my head and he wore goggles that would put a Swiss army knife to shame.
“Open the mouth nice and wide now little missy (octaves)”.
He placed THE SUCKER under my tongue…..Although it did not hurt… it made a continual disturbing DRAIN sound.
And then….the nurse(?) handed him THE INSTRUMENTS of his trade: The POKER, THE SCRAPER, and THE EXTENDO MIRROR.
I remember having a very close up view of his nostrils.
The extendo mirror perused my mouth and then…..THE POKER. Poke on this tooth, poke on that tooth…throat clearing…lots of HMMMM’s and whimpering (from me).
I had learned that when THE POKER stuck somewhere I was in trouble because that would require THE NEEDLE, THE DRILL and mercury laced silver..
The worst was THE SCRAPER. Dr. DeWitt (octaves) was also the DENTAL HYGIENIST. The nurse (?) was just THE INSTRUMENT dispenser. He LIKED the scraper, and, he was very thorough in its application.
Scrape….scrape…He seemed to have a telepathic connection with the nurse (?) because with no verbal cue she would hand him THE POKER. Poke…poke …poke…!
Sticking!!!! And then Dr. DeWitt (octaves) would say something like, “Little hole there little missy…..we’ll have to TAKE CARE of THAT…I’ll tell your mother to make ANOTHER appointment…let’s brush those teeth up and give you a squirt of candy water (red dye #2 mouth wash)”.
And while the ROTARY BRUSH whirled around my teeth all I could hear was the echo in my brain…ANOTHER APPOINTMENT…A LITTLE HOLE…… Dr DeWitt (octaves) gleefully holding THE NEEDLE and THE DRILL…..
Once sufficiently brushed, drained, and liberally candy watered the nurse (?) lowered the chair, unclipped the bib, and told me I could leave. I usually had to place my head between my knees for a few seconds…this appeared to ANNOY Dr. DeWitt (octaves) as he always said “Now that wasn’t so bad…WAS IT?” (octaves)
I was released into the custody of my mother who chatted cozily with my torturer while ANOTHER APPOINTMENT was made.
As I turned to follow her down the dark narrow stairs I heard Dr. DeWitt ….
“Good-bye little missy…see you……..soon (octaves)