Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thanks for Torturing Me. Here's $1,000.

Three visits to the dentist's office this week caused me to think about fictional dentists I know. The ones that immediately came to my mind were as follows:

--the famous scene from the movie Marathon Man where Laurence Olivier, playing a former Nazi dentist, tortures Dustin Hoffman by pulling his teeth without anesthesia and repeatedly asks "Is it safe?" Poor Dustin doesn't have a clue what the correct answer is.

--the 1986 movie version of Little Shop of Horrors where Steve Martin plays Orin Scrivello D.D.S., a sadistic and abusive dentist who accidentally asphyxiates himself when his gas mask spewing nitrous oxide malfunctions

--a very bad Daniel Day Lewis film I caught on late night cable years ago where all I can remember is him traveling around South America on a motorcycle shouting "I'm a dentist!" (with a quick Google search, I've discovered that little gem is called Eversmile, New Jersey)

So it appears that writers have easily made a connection with sadism, over-the-topness and dentistry. After my experience this week, I would propose an even more chilling characterization using an average, all-American looking dentist who is quick with a joke and a smile, and puts you immediately at ease.

He proceeds to drill into your teeth without giving you enough novacaine, then gives you so much novacaine you're numb into your forehead and your eyes resemble The Hunchback of Notre Dame, prescribes you antibiotics too late so you are in major pain from infection for several days waiting for them to kick in, followed by an overdose of nitrous oxide that sends you into shock, all of this resulting in a week of overall discomfort and some of the worst pain you've felt in your life.

And the worst part? You have to pay him $1,000 of your hard earned, don't-have-it-to-spare money for his "expertise".


  1. We pay him. Seriously wrong. When I have my own world...

  2. There's a great part in one of my favorite chick lit novels, "Charms For the Easy Life", where Charlie Kate, a self-taught, self-made doctor goes into dentistry. She bases the dose of chloroform she gives any given mother on how tired and overworked she seems to be. Conversely, she occasionally avoids giving men any at all.

    Sorry about your terrible dental experience, Linda. I'm sure if Charlie Kate were your dentist you'd be walking in a cloud for a week. :)

  3. Every time someone mentions evil dentists, Little Shop of Horrors is the first thing that comes to mind.

  4. I'm with you and Graham. Steve Martin does the evil dentist almost too well.