Thoughts from the Exam Chair

Apparently I have a nervous tongue. I’m a chronic cheek chewer and I need to be more stealthy when brushing my teeth. These were three revelations made this morning by Dr. Troika, the most invasively thorough dentist I’ve ever encountered.

“I need you to lift your tongue to the roof of your mouth and relax it while I shove this sharp-edged Kitchen Aid mixer attachment as far back into your mouth as it’ll go.”

That’s how Robin, the dental hygienist started the x-ray portion of today’s visit to Hades. She didn’t actually say the last part but would’ve if she’d been totally honest.

“Is that comfortable? Because your tongue doesn’t seem relaxed.”

How can it be relaxed? Those are conflicting demands to put on a tongue. It’s like telling me to do a push-up and just relax while I’m holding it.

“I’m sorry. These bite wing x-rays aren’t very fun,” Robin said, obviously reading my grimace.


“Are any x-rays considered fun?” I wondered while holding the bowl scraper attachment between my molars and trying not to gag.

“Hey kids, grab your coats and get in the van. We’re going out for ice cream and chest x-rays!”

“YAY! You’re the best mom EVER!”

(That was the imaginary conversation I had while trying to take my mind off my tongue’s performance anxiety.)

Robin must’ve taken 47 x-rays. I think by the end, she was bringing in random items from the receptionist’s desk to x-ray inside my mouth for her own humor.

I imagined her thinking “great job with the staple remover. Now open wide so we can x-ray your bicuspids gripping the hole puncher.”

I stared at the posters on the wall most of the time.


I love how this ad for single tooth replacement shows a mom swinging her son or some random kid around at the beach….as if she couldn’t do that if she was missing a tooth. “Now that I’ve gotten my tooth replaced, I can go to the beach again!”

I stared at my shoes and decided that they’re ugly and a bit worn out. My friend Gern once joked that I must’ve stolen them from Oliver Twist. They’re super cute with ankle rolled jeans. But with black tights, I look like the wicked witch that Dorothy’s house landed on….and that wasn’t the look I was going for.


Finally Dr. Troika came in and offered me a pair of safety glasses.  For a moment I wondered if it was a self-serve dental office and they expected me to clean my own teeth. But it was for safety, in case Dr. Troika’s aim was a few inches off. I guess that happens sometimes.

He and the hygienist left the room for a moment so I did something productive.


“First I’ll begin by examining your throat, glands, neck and facial skin,” he said matter-of-factly while beginning to massage my cheeks.

“Wow, I’ve never had a dentist do that before,” I laughed nervously.

“And that’s a shame,” he replied bluntly. “Every dentist should do this. All of this figures into your periodontal health. There are too many of those “drill, fill and bill” guys out there who don’t take time to do things the right way.”

That made me feel defensive for Dr. Whistle back home. He was a great dentist. Always gave excellent care. And he had an amazing garden that he kept up by himself right outside the exam room windows. There aren’t many tooth doctors who can give you a pain free filling along with tips on getting rid of black spots on your zinnias.

I knew when we moved to Richmond that finding another master gardener dentist would be next to impossible. I wish they listed that kind of information on the dental insurance network website so you could make more educated choices.

As Dr. Troika called roll in my mouth by tooth numbers, he made judgmental comments for Robin to record in my file.

“She has a cross bite between one and 32. Ecclesial (sp) amalgam on three, four and five. 20-percent overbite and she’s a chronic cheek chewer.” (seems like he could’ve at least whispered those things if they had to go in the chart.)

“You’ve got a little tartar build-up on your top left wisdom tooth. Gonna have to make sure you sneak your toothbrush back there more often.”

He actually used the verb “sneak.” As if I should wait until my teeth aren’t looking or have had a few glasses of wine.

Troika then demonstrated the correct sneaky brushing strokes for standoffish back teeth. I hated to tell him that if I haven’t caught onto the proper molar brushing strokes by age 40, showing me again probably won’t help.

But he’s thorough like that and looked at me sympathetically, as if through no fault of my own I’d been under the oral care of a tribal witch doctor all my life.

After two hours in the mauve recliner, staring at the teeth pickle poster, I was finally released….with an appointment to come back next week to have a cavity filled.

Troika will probably make me change into a hospital gown for that.

angela book cover

If you’d like to read more essays like this one, click here to download my new ebook for your Amazon Kindle or Kindle app on your smart phone. 60 laugh out loud essays for only $2.99.

But wait! There’s more!

Okay, there’s really not more. I just always wanted to say that.

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24 Responses to Thoughts from the Exam Chair

  1. Kara says:

    I’m a chronic cheek chewer too. Once when I was working at a Jazz club one of the lonely hearts club guys got mad at me and told me I had to cut the shit. ( I mean poop…oops ) Completely perplexed I chalked it up to him being an a&&. Years later my husband showed me the sexually inappropriate face that I make when I cheek chew. Boys are pigs…that is all.


  2. angelaweight says:

    Thanks so much for sharing that. I’m laughing picturing you turning on all the men and not even noticing. Were you able to stop?

    I’m gonna have to be more observant about my facial expressions.


  3. You are so funny! I always marvel at the way the hygienist or dentist tries to carry on a conversation when one of us has a mouth full of metal. Do you answer, or just pretend you didn’t hear?


  4. doreenb8 says:

    I am really liking the sound of sleep dentists.
    Three weeks ago I had my 7th oral surgery in 2 years.
    Those exrays are horrific with a mouth full of stitches.


  5. Thankfully, my dentist has the latest in small xray equipment so the bite wings aren’t like they used to be. Because you’d think technology could have solved this problem earlier.


  6. roz warren says:

    This was a riot. Enjoyed both the commentary and the photos. Kudos for making a trip to the dentist so much fun. (At least for your readers…)


  7. This read made me laugh out loud! This line tickled me “My friend Gern once joked that I must’ve stolen them from Oliver Twist.” I have shoes like that as well! You are so funny! I enjoy your writings so very much!


  8. angelaweight says:

    Thanks, Stephanie! I really appreciate you always reading them. And I miss seeing you. Hope all’ well.


  9. angelaweight says:

    Thanks Roz, I super appreciate that compliment coming from a writer as funny as you.


  10. angelaweight says:

    Yeah, I don’t remember bite wings being so painful before. Wonder if I traveled back in time with this dentist.


  11. angelaweight says:

    Oh my gosh. Bless your heart. Can’t imagine 7 oral surgeries in 2 years.


  12. angelaweight says:

    I know! Do they really expect answers. I try my hardest to carry on the conversation.


  13. says:

    Isn’t it hilarious how dentist expect you to answer questions while they have tons of stuff pushed to the back of your throat and your mouth opened so wide you feel like a snake about to have a mid-day meal? At least you do make it sound hilarious!


  14. angelaweight says:

    Thanks, Adrian! If only we could unhinge our jaws like snakes do.


  15. Theresa says:

    Too funny! I love the selfies with the goggles and the pic of your shoes.


  16. mrsmuffintop says:

    I laughed heartily reading this! I think your pics are perfect too! I love it when we can be silly and put it out there. I think I need your dentist, by the way. Mainly because he said, “drill, fill and bill.” and that sounds soooooo raunchy 🙂


  17. angelaweight says:

    Lol, are you getting turned on by my dentist?


  18. triciathegoodmama says:

    Very funny! Ugh, I’m wayyy overdo for the dentist. This was a good reminder to go. I really wish they would whisper the bad stuff too haha.


  19. Sarah Mac says:

    I have to say those shoes are shocking – bin them immediately! They did however help to distract me from all this talk about dentists which usually makes me hyperventilate so perhaps they do serve a useful purpose after all …


  20. angelaweight says:

    Lol at the shoes. They’re super cute with ankle rolled jeans. But with tights, I look like the wicked witch of the west. Sorry to make you hyperventilate. You always make me laugh, Sarah.


  21. Sue says:

    Hi and found you on Artcademy today. I enjoyed reading your dental comedy skit so much today. You are spot on for tongue relaxing and painful objects in the mouth.


  22. angelaweight says:

    Thanks, Sue! I really appreciate you reading my post. I’m not sure what kind of mouth acrobatics dentists expect from us. It’s crazy!


  23. Thanks for the follow. Blogging is therapy but cheaper. I laughed out loud at your dentist story. I have been blogging for years and have exactly one blog post someone labelled as funny. Tomorrow I buy the book. Promise. Oh, maybe now.


  24. angelaweight says:

    Well I think you’re pretty darn funny and I REALLY appreciate your comments. I’m going to your blog right now and am sure I’ll find plenty of humor. 😃


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