Is it bad that my dentist uses a blow torch?

Last Friday at the dentist worked out fine even though he had to use a blow-torch.

I love this dentist. He started in dentistry the same year my Patient Husband was born, and he uses a mix of old-world materials and new-improved when necessary. “I only use porcelain fused to gold,” he told me. “Some guys use all these new materials. This crown is made out of lava! Eeh,” he drawled. “Just because insurance will pay to replace it every five years doesn’t mean they’re supposed to last five years.”

He said, “Johnson and Johnson used to be the biggest supplier of dental materials, and nowadays, what do they make? Dental floss and tooth brushes. Everything else they made failed. And then who do you go to? You don’t call them — you come back to me, and I gotta explain why I used shoddy materials. But porcelain fused to gold — I don’t know who made the porcelain or who mined the gold, but I know what’s in it.”

While I cowered in the chair, the assistant asked if I wanted her to take my bag, which I clutched closer. I said, “The problem of being here without my son is I had no excuse to bring a teddy bear.”

She pointed to the corner. “We have one if you want it.”

The dentist replied, “Nah. That one farts if you squeeze it.”

Three drillings later, with me clutching my hands together and with my eyes squeezed tight, the dentist murmured, “Maybe we really do need to give you the farting teddy bear.”

Despite how this sounds, it was totally pain-free due to a root canal courtesy of Dentist #2. I now have a titanium post that’s threaded into the root of the tooth. The post is filed down to a decent length. My permanent crown will arrive in two weeks.

“For everyone else they take four weeks, but for me, I get them in two. You know why?” he said. “Because I’ve done business with them for thirty years, and I always pay in advance.”

Nice to know.

One of my terrified thoughts, as I waited for that drill bit to suddenly penetrate my brain, was that I’d have preferred labor to this process. In labor, I get to work with my body. I get to manage my own pain. In dentistry, I have to lie back and let him work. In labor, the pressure is predictable and the tension is periodic. In dentistry, the tension is constant, and the worst part was fearing a sudden excruciating pain I could do nothing about.

At the end, he took an impression of my bite (he claims everyone in Angelborough has one hanging in his basement!) but in order to get my mouth into the form, he had to pull out a blow torch and modify the plastic. “Your mouth is small in front but big in the back,” he said. “It’s V-shaped, not U-shaped.”

Cringing at the other side of the chair while that blow torch blazed on the tray table, I thought, “I really need to blog this.”

And there you have it: a good time was had by all, and yes, my dentist did indeed use a blow torch.


  1. cricketB

    A new-fangled thing your dentist might look into is TVs on the ceiling and headphones. Our kids know the routine. On the way to the chair you pass the shelf of movies. They’re totally unaware of what’s going on in their mouths until it’s time to spit. Just don’t make the mistake Husband did. It’s not a good idea to watch Mr. Bean at the Dentist while people have things stuck in your mouth.

    Totally agree with new is not necessarily better. Our dentist (graduated about when we did, never gives you the “You can’t get your kid to brush properly, so you don’t deserve to be a parent” stare — instead he admits he can’t get his similar-aged kids to brush well either) doesn’t even like the newer fillings for kids. It doesn’t bond as well to baby teeth. Tough choice for just a few years: One or two mercury fillings, or replace the filling twice.

    1. philangelus

      There were too many different things to do for this for me to use my headphones. I did bring my iPod, but unlike when I had the root canal, I actually needed to be able to follow directions. It’s a good idea, though.

  2. Ken Rolph

    I was in the chair myself in early January. My dentist is a young man Jan tutored when he was at high school. He now has kids at high school. So he has a long history with our mouths. He doesn’t use a blowtorch. But he does use a light sabre.

    1. philangelus

      These are not the teeth you’re looking for.

      Carry on.

  3. Heather

    I would rather go to the dentist than the doctor. Which I think makes me clinically insane.
    I’m with you though, it’s the anticipation of pain that is the worst.

    1. cricketB

      My son has to have blood work after school. We went last Tuesday and he asked for a week to psych up for it. Last time we went straight to the lab after the Dr. and he begged for more warning next time. When we got the flu shots I gave them a week warning and it went well. They planned which stuffies to bring. I know he’ll beg not to do it at all, but knows that’s not an option — the begging is an emotional formality. I doubt he’ll beg to put it off again, since we discussed it. Daddy is even taking time off work because Son asked to go with him if possible — making it even more clear that “today is the day.”

  4. Michael

    lol, what typa dentist is that. We have dentists in doncaster who look mean but no blow torch

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