Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer


You Got A Pretty…Small Mouth

Zachary Boblitt the day after surgery with successful squirrel cheeks. | Photo credit: Zachary Boblitt

The dental hygienist, assistant, or whatever the title is for the underling looking inside people’s mouths without getting the DDS honor, looked me deep in the eyes. She put her hand on my arm, and with the tone you might use when telling someone of their impending serious illness, she told me I needed my wisdom teeth removed.

I have had a terrible relationship with my awful teeth. It goes down to the roots of my life. When you grow up in a low-income, abusive household, things just do not get done. One of those things for me was dental care. We were on Medicaid with dental for kids. However, my biggest dental memory is not of getting toothpaste at the office or counting before laughing gas eventually knocked me out like a Tyson Fury opponent. No, my biggest dental memory was a sad one. I remember asking my mom if I could start doing chores so I could pay for my own toothbrush. She told me no and that I would not brush my teeth anyway.

I stagger into the dental office at 9:00 a.m. on the dot. The benzodiazepine (commonly called “benzo”) I was told to take at 7:30 a.m. is really starting to kick in, and I am feeling pretty nice. I go to the bathroom and notice that, for some reason, this office has a picture of a cute dog right above the toilet. I did my business wishing a golden retriever was not looking me in the eyes while I was releasing a golden shower out of my bladder. My name gets called, and I pay an inordinate sum of cash to have a stranger yank out my chompers.

Finally, in my throne of dental destiny, I await my dentist. During my initial visit, I remember the fella bragging about his 32 years of experience. He swaggers into the room with the confidence of Matthew McConaughey rolling in a Lincoln. During the first meeting, he commented multiple times about the smallness of my mouth. It got to the point where I was starting to get a complex. How friggin’ small is my mouth that this old-school dental veteran has to keep mentioning its lack of size? I assure you I can handle multiple big burgers and some burritos as big as my head, but that apparently is not enough. He gives me a giant pat on the back. The kind of pat that makes a thwack sound and is utilized to show he is in control. I am in his world now.

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Big mistake: I looked over at the tools. Is this removal sponsored by Craftsman? There is one with a mirror that seems fine. That one looks incredibly pokey. Is that just a giant steak knife? This benzo has clearly kicked in now. I remember during the original appointment, the dentist mentioned he does not put patients under. I thought it was a fun little quip. I glance at the clock. It is 9:30 a.m.

I stare up into the bright light. There is a painting of wheat fluttering in the wind above my right shoulder. I close my eyes. The sounds commence. The young padawan whose job is to vacuum my mouth is not very good at it. I swallow more blood than a nerdy vampire trying to fit in on their first day. If I’m not swallowing blood, I am being scolded for not opening wide enough. I have decided to just listen instead of watching the destruction of my tiny mouth. I close my eyes.

It is break time for the dentist and his assistant. I lay awake. Numbness is my only feeling. The door is ajar for anyone to come in. My mouth is also ajar. I start to try and feel my chin with my right hand. This dentist has made me into The Elephant Man. I got a big old mouth now. I guess he got what he wanted.

The sawing of my last wisdom tooth commences. My top two teeth were pretty easy. The bottom two…not so much. Is it weird that your face can be so numb that deafening grinding noises don’t affect you? I wish I could be this numb all the time. I think that is how addiction starts, as the benzo continues to work its medicinal magic.

The dentist spreads my mouth open real, real wide. I feel like a cartoon character; my mouth is so wide. He not-so-gently screams over the sound of a dental saw, “You might feel a little pressure on your chest.” The dentist then puts some body part on my chest for leverage. I say some body part because my eyes remained closed, and I Googled knee on the chest for dentist. It says this is a myth. Google says dentists will not do that during a tooth pull. I trust Google. Google is totally trustworthy. They never lie. Dentists never lie. They kneel on your chest. Whatever it was, it certainly did put pressure on my chest.

My eyes have been squeezing so tight that a tear gently falls out of my right eye. I can finally open them after all of my wisdom teeth are extracted. It is after 1:00 p.m. My cheeks are full like a successful squirrel. I wonder if this was all worth it. My girlfriend enters the room. I stand up and nearly fall down because gravity is kind of an asshat sometimes. I look back and mumble to the dental assistant, “Who’s got a small mouth now.” The words were indecipherable.

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