A Visit to the Dentist

I went to the dentist last week to have a cavity filled. It was late afternoon, and as I settled into the chair, the dentist told me I was his last patient for the day and as soon as he was finished with me he could go home. That seemed to spark a thought in his head, and he asked me a question you never want your dentist to ask: “So, how tough are you?”

Usually that’s an easy question for a guy to answer (“Tough as nails!”), but you find yourself answering more carefully when it’s your dentist doing the asking. So, I responded: “That depends. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, I was just thinking,” he said. “If I give you novocaine, then that will take longer, plus you will feel the pain of the novocaine when I give you the shot, and then your mouth will be numb for three hours, and you won’t enjoy your dinner tonight. But if we skip the novocaine we can get right to it. It might be a little uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be too bad. So, I was wondering, how tough are you?”

Well, it was easy to see which way he wanted to go with this. I told him I was fine with discomfort but not a big fan of pain. “No problem,” he said. “Just raise your right arm if you feel any pain.” So, we went ahead, and he drilled my tooth without any novocaine. And fortunately it wasn’t too bad. We both got to go home early, and I enjoyed my supper.

So, how would you respond if your dentist asked you, “How tough are you?”

See related post:  C. J. Mahaney Goes to the Dentist


  1. Bethany says:

    I agree I wouldn’t want to hear my dentist ask that question.

    However, I heard my endondist say something you never want to hear your endodontist say: “Oops”.

    After doing a root canal, he checked the follow-up xray and truly did say “Oops”. Without further explanation, he said he had a little more work to do. It wasn’t till 1/2 hour later that he told me he’d done the wrong tooth! So, he did the correct one before telling me. Turns out his assistant had put the original x-ray into the reader backwards.


    The positive side is that I was charged no deductible (for either root canal) and he paid for all the follow-up care at my dentist’s. So, I essentially got two root canals for free.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Bethany – Yes, “oops” is not something I would want to hear from my orthodontist — or surgeon.

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