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Relax and Open Wide: Dentist vs. Doctor

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Sometimes when I’m bored and have neglected to tote some reading material—like when I’m standing in line at the supermarket, or waiting for a movie to begin—I indulge in a debate I have with myself: Which do I dislike more: a visit to the dentist, or a visit to the gynecologist?

Both require me to grant access to the dark and private parts of my body that I’d rather keep classified—at least, to all but a privileged few. You might think that men can’t grok that dilemma, but my friend David suggests that the equivalent procedure for men would be a prostate exam. I’ve never had one, but—although I don’t like to—I can imagine.

I admit that I don’t like the physical exposure, the act of opening wide for strangers. Intellectually, I know there’s nothing truly intimate going on. But, still, it feels weird.

What’s more: I dread the way that the folks trained to do business there seem to regard those nooks as a kind of porthole to my life. They read them in the way a palm reader studies your upturned hand. “So you drink coffee,” my dentist might say, using his sharp pick to muck the crannies between my teeth.

Some days, I persuade myself that I dislike visiting my dentist more. Maybe it’s because those visits take longer, and I go twice as often. Or maybe it’s because dentists seem to have impossibly high standards for oral hygiene. I can spend hours working over my teeth, investing in all kinds of creams and polishes, but still I could be scrubbing harder, brushing longer, flossing more deeply beneath the gum line.

If you try to follow their advice to the letter, you are doomed to screw it up, it seems. It reminds me of a college copyediting class that tried to school us in the arcane, but exacting, rules of grammar. Unfortunately, I was always placing a colon in a sentence that demanded a semi-colon, or italicizing a bit of text that required underlining, or getting confused about whether a subordinate clause should be separated by commas or left flailing, on its own, desperately seeking its modifier. There is little nuance to copyediting—and I found it maddening and exasperating. In copyediting—and in dentistry, apparently—there is a right way, or a wrong way, but never a way that’s simply “good enough.”

“You are brushing too hard,” my dentist told me the last time I was lying supine in his exam room. “You need to find a softer brush… and try brushing in small circles. Not like this…” he said, sawing aggressively in the air as if hacking at a particularly stubborn oak limb, “…but like this,” he explained, drawing tight, small circles in front of my nose, gripping a pretend toothbrush with long, deliberate fingers.

During that visit, I was taken aback when he handed me a hand mirror and then, with a gloved hand, exposed the soft tissue beneath my bottom teeth to point out a few vulnerable spots at my gum line. I nodded mutely, the taste of latex in my mouth. And I couldn’t help but think that this particular maneuver—training a mirror on the more tender bits of the cavity—was something that my gynecologist had never, ever done.

If this were truly a debate, I decide, that would be the closing argument, and perhaps the clincher.

My debate has always been a private one. But since my annual exam at the gynecologist was coming up, I wondered how my gynecologist, who is a woman, would weigh in. So when she walked into the small examination room where I was waiting, half undressed, the other day, I steered the conversation in that direction. The doctor is about my age, and as we talked she tapped at icons on my digital chart with a stylus.

“You know who has a really weird job?” she asked, suddenly looking up. “Mammographers.” All day they lurk in small, dark rooms, painfully manipulating breasts into awkward positions, and then photographing them as they’re flattened. “One after another, all day long. Can you imagine?” she said.

I couldn’t. But then again, I said, I couldn’t imagine her job, either… one after another, all day long.

I mentioned my dentist-versus-gynecologist debate, and she said matter-of-factly, “Oh yes, I hear that all the time.” Some of the tools that dentists and gynecologists use are the same, in fact, she pointed out. The instrument that a dentist uses to numb someone’s gum is the same instrument she uses to numb a cervix, she said, and often the mix of anesthetic is the same, too. Once, she said, when she couldn’t find her own tools, she borrowed them from a nearby dentist.

That raised all kinds of questions in my mind, but I didn’t ask them. I was too busy being amazed that her other patients had made the same comparison. It’s nice to hit a nerve, I guess, but I liked the idea more when I thought it was original and completely mine. It reminded me of when I was 13 and wrote a long, narrative poem about the heroic struggles of a tiny family that lived under a mushroom. I thought I had invented the concept of the epic poem. But then I got to 9th grade and read Beowulf. Suddenly, both my story and I were stupid, small, and ordinary.

I never did get an answer out of my doctor, so I don’t know where she would come down in the dentist-versus-gynecologist debate. But an ongoing poll I stumbled on at fitsugar says most women would rather go to the dentist (57 percent) than the gynecologist (43 percent).

In a way, I pity both the dentists and the gynecologists among us, and maybe now mammographers and proctologists, too. I wonder how they drag themselves out of bed each morning, having invested so much time and money in a career that sets them off each day to meet one-on-one with people who wish they were anyplace other than sitting, exposed, in their exam rooms.

In my mind, a dentist or gynecologist is like a tax preparer or divorce attorney—they are professionals no one ever really wants to hire, but sometimes must. But maybe dentists and gynecologists are more like garbage men: When we imagine our world without them, we are very, very grateful they exist.

So where does your preference lie in this debate? The dentist’s chair or the gynecologist’s/proctologist’s table?

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100 Responses to Relax and Open Wide: Dentist vs. Doctor

  1. Mark Dykeman says:

    Um, none of the above?

    OK, OK, I’d pick the dentist…

  2. Mark Dykeman says:

    Um, none of the above?

    OK, OK, I’d pick the dentist…

  3. Bev Barnett says:

    I agree… dentists are so judgemental!

  4. Bev Barnett says:

    I agree… dentists are so judgemental!

  5. Zane says:

    Awkward. Too much information. I’m going to watch Sports Center now, if that’s ok. Thank you.

  6. Zane says:

    Awkward. Too much information. I’m going to watch Sports Center now, if that’s ok. Thank you.

  7. mom3girls says:

    I’m having a colonoscopy and endoscopy on Monday – I’d rather be going to the dentist or the gynecologist! Or both!

  8. mom3girls says:

    I’m having a colonoscopy and endoscopy on Monday – I’d rather be going to the dentist or the gynecologist! Or both!

  9. Ann, this post really has teeth to it! You’re so incisive and full of wisdom, and it’s clear that you’ve chewed on this idea for quite some time. Drilling down into your final query, I’m not sure my mind is filling with any answers, but probably 9 out of 10 dentists would have it!

  10. Ann, this post really has teeth to it! You’re so incisive and full of wisdom, and it’s clear that you’ve chewed on this idea for quite some time. Drilling down into your final query, I’m not sure my mind is filling with any answers, but probably 9 out of 10 dentists would have it!

  11. Ann,
    I have commented on just about every post here since I found out about you, and your amazing writing talent.
    That was a girli post.
    There. I have commented.
    End.
    Joel Libava
    {Thank you for sneaking me in on your sidebar. You have lots of class.
    We must meet at one of these Social Media events, one day.}

  12. Joel Libava says:

    Ann,
    I have commented on just about every post here since I found out about you, and your amazing writing talent.
    That was a girli post.
    There. I have commented.
    End.
    Joel Libava
    {Thank you for sneaking me in on your sidebar. You have lots of class.
    We must meet at one of these Social Media events, one day.}

  13. Nedra says:

    Given that I’ve been dreading the root canal I’m scheduled to have on Monday, I’d say I’d much rather go to my OB/GYN. So far never any pain involved, and I only have to go there once a year.

  14. Nedra says:

    Given that I’ve been dreading the root canal I’m scheduled to have on Monday, I’d say I’d much rather go to my OB/GYN. So far never any pain involved, and I only have to go there once a year.

  15. Jane Chin says:

    This is a difficult question, for which a consultative solution may not suffice.

    For one, the metrics around pain threshold manifestations from visits to each type of licensed healthcare provider are lacking, and certainly no head to head benchmarking studies have ever been implemented by self-proclaimed movers and shakers – nay – gurus – in the healthcare industry.

    And even if there WERE acceptable metrics demonstrating returns on pain between both groups, who dare suggest that the quantity of pain experienced by one individual is less than the quality of fear experienced by another?

    I defer my ignorance to Blue Spoon, who probably has a white paper on this very matter.

  16. Jane Chin says:

    This is a difficult question, for which a consultative solution may not suffice.

    For one, the metrics around pain threshold manifestations from visits to each type of licensed healthcare provider are lacking, and certainly no head to head benchmarking studies have ever been implemented by self-proclaimed movers and shakers – nay – gurus – in the healthcare industry.

    And even if there WERE acceptable metrics demonstrating returns on pain between both groups, who dare suggest that the quantity of pain experienced by one individual is less than the quality of fear experienced by another?

    I defer my ignorance to Blue Spoon, who probably has a white paper on this very matter.

  17. Eric Hoffman says:

    I actually enjoy going to my dentist, I mean who wouldn’t enjoy going to a ‘dental spa’? They put your hands in paraffin wax prior to sitting in the chair, once you get into the chair they put a mask over your eyes during the cleaning and after everything they give you a five minute facial massage to make sure you leave without a sore jaw. Hmmm, when’s my next appointment again?!

  18. Eric Hoffman says:

    I actually enjoy going to my dentist, I mean who wouldn’t enjoy going to a ‘dental spa’? They put your hands in paraffin wax prior to sitting in the chair, once you get into the chair they put a mask over your eyes during the cleaning and after everything they give you a five minute facial massage to make sure you leave without a sore jaw. Hmmm, when’s my next appointment again?!

  19. Ann Kingman says:

    Ann,
    I’m not sure where I fall on the topic in question, but I want to state that you are the only person I know who could get so many men to comment on such a post!

  20. Ann Kingman says:

    Ann,
    I’m not sure where I fall on the topic in question, but I want to state that you are the only person I know who could get so many men to comment on such a post!

  21. Katybeth says:

    Fortunately, i have had great luck with wonderful dentists, but i always lie when they ask me about flossing. I think that must be one of the number #1 reason people avoid the dentist…the flossing question. So personal. I put my son through all sorts of dental hoops before taking him to the dentist—after all what mom wants to admit she does not stay on top of hers kids flossing? Not me. The truth is overrated.
    I have not found the right gynecologist and i just don’t think I ever will but as I get older, bolder, and less reverent it is more fun.
    First choice? Dentist. Its warmer.

  22. Katybeth says:

    Fortunately, i have had great luck with wonderful dentists, but i always lie when they ask me about flossing. I think that must be one of the number #1 reason people avoid the dentist…the flossing question. So personal. I put my son through all sorts of dental hoops before taking him to the dentist—after all what mom wants to admit she does not stay on top of hers kids flossing? Not me. The truth is overrated.
    I have not found the right gynecologist and i just don’t think I ever will but as I get older, bolder, and less reverent it is more fun.
    First choice? Dentist. Its warmer.

  23. Angela says:

    Ooh, diggin’ the epic poem comparison. I felt that way when, as a kid, I realized I hadn’t invented the concept of a “Marsian.”

    Off-topic: did you know there is a teeny little smiley face at the very bottom of your page, just beneath the copyright symbol? Did you do that purposely?

    Back on-topic: I used to like the dentist more, because I’ve had a run of mildly awkward gynecologists. (I’m always thinking, “What they’re doing here is exactly what a molester does, except they’re telling me they’re checking for uterine irregularities, not Donald Duck.”) But now I have a dentist who thinks that when my gums bleed heavily, it means I’m on my period. And he’ll shout it across to the hygienist while admonishing her “Not to worry.” So it’s almost like suffering a bad dental and gynecological appointment at the same time.

  24. Angela says:

    Ooh, diggin’ the epic poem comparison. I felt that way when, as a kid, I realized I hadn’t invented the concept of a “Marsian.”

    Off-topic: did you know there is a teeny little smiley face at the very bottom of your page, just beneath the copyright symbol? Did you do that purposely?

    Back on-topic: I used to like the dentist more, because I’ve had a run of mildly awkward gynecologists. (I’m always thinking, “What they’re doing here is exactly what a molester does, except they’re telling me they’re checking for uterine irregularities, not Donald Duck.”) But now I have a dentist who thinks that when my gums bleed heavily, it means I’m on my period. And he’ll shout it across to the hygienist while admonishing her “Not to worry.” So it’s almost like suffering a bad dental and gynecological appointment at the same time.

  25. LisaW says:

    Well, darn, Ann. I thought comparing the dentist and the ob-gyn was my idea! And, I still can’t decide – I think it depends upon which appointment I’m dreading next. If it’s a dentist appointment, I’d rather be heading to the ob-gyn. If it’s the ob-gyn, I’d rather be heading to the dentist.

  26. LisaW says:

    Well, darn, Ann. I thought comparing the dentist and the ob-gyn was my idea! And, I still can’t decide – I think it depends upon which appointment I’m dreading next. If it’s a dentist appointment, I’d rather be heading to the ob-gyn. If it’s the ob-gyn, I’d rather be heading to the dentist.

  27. Claudia says:

    Ann,

    I discovered your beautiful blog pretty recently and I’m glad to see so much humanity, deep thoughts coupled with humour and “lightness”.

    For this one, I think that the underlying debate is about how and when you want to give access to your “true” inside. But well thought I don’t think that dentists and gynecologists know the truth of the world! So even if they have the power to make you “open” for them, and that’s why I think it is difficult to say which one we dislike less, they touch only like a superficial intimate.
    So, let’s relax and give to see what we decide to in .. blogs, for example!

  28. Claudia says:

    Ann,

    I discovered your beautiful blog pretty recently and I’m glad to see so much humanity, deep thoughts coupled with humour and “lightness”.

    For this one, I think that the underlying debate is about how and when you want to give access to your “true” inside. But well thought I don’t think that dentists and gynecologists know the truth of the world! So even if they have the power to make you “open” for them, and that’s why I think it is difficult to say which one we dislike less, they touch only like a superficial intimate.
    So, let’s relax and give to see what we decide to in .. blogs, for example!

  29. Karen Swim says:

    LOL! This is the reason I am always excited to see your new posts in my feed reader! You know how to tell a story, to suss out the humane and make readers feel a part of it. Hands down, I prefer the dentist! In fact I don’t mind the dentist at all. The gynecologist and the mammographer do have two of the toughest jobs. Not to mention all the anxiety after visiting them. When you visit the dentist it’s over and done, no bad news, no need to worry.

  30. Karen Swim says:

    LOL! This is the reason I am always excited to see your new posts in my feed reader! You know how to tell a story, to suss out the humane and make readers feel a part of it. Hands down, I prefer the dentist! In fact I don’t mind the dentist at all. The gynecologist and the mammographer do have two of the toughest jobs. Not to mention all the anxiety after visiting them. When you visit the dentist it’s over and done, no bad news, no need to worry.

  31. My grandfather was a dentist, a very good one, who took care of my teeth until he retired when I was 12. That’s when I discovered how aggressively preachy dentists could seem. It came as a shock.

    Intellectually, I know they’ve only got a few chances a year to make their point, and they’re sick of treating patients who ignore their advice. But what they’re actually doing is aggravating the cycle by laying it on too thick.

    Now I can sit down in the chair thinking, “Well, at least I’m not at the gynecologist.” Thanks for that.

  32. My grandfather was a dentist, a very good one, who took care of my teeth until he retired when I was 12. That’s when I discovered how aggressively preachy dentists could seem. It came as a shock.

    Intellectually, I know they’ve only got a few chances a year to make their point, and they’re sick of treating patients who ignore their advice. But what they’re actually doing is aggravating the cycle by laying it on too thick.

    Now I can sit down in the chair thinking, “Well, at least I’m not at the gynecologist.” Thanks for that.

  33. Shelley says:

    If I have a car that I never drive, would I take it to a mechanic for annual engine checks? No.

    That’s why it’s been way, way too long since I’ve been to an ob/gyn. Thanks, Ann, for making me look forward to next week’s appointment…

  34. Shelley says:

    If I have a car that I never drive, would I take it to a mechanic for annual engine checks? No.

    That’s why it’s been way, way too long since I’ve been to an ob/gyn. Thanks, Ann, for making me look forward to next week’s appointment…

  35. What Zane said. And the first part of what Karen Swim said.

    [scurrying away, trying not to blush]

  36. What Zane said. And the first part of what Karen Swim said.

    [scurrying away, trying not to blush]

  37. Melissa says:

    The shame factor is so much higher at the dentists office. Somehow they are able to take the basically impossible task of sanitizing a seething cauldron of bacteria and make it into some kind of ontological lack. Whereas I have never had a gynecologist say: if you don’t do something drastic, you are going to lose that ovary. Ovaries do occasionally have to come out, but it’s not because you weren’t buffing and polishing them.

    So, how do we treat the after effects of these discomfort-fests? Chocolate and benzodiazapines? Loud movies where many men die? Complete immersion in a Thursday Next novel?

  38. Melissa says:

    The shame factor is so much higher at the dentists office. Somehow they are able to take the basically impossible task of sanitizing a seething cauldron of bacteria and make it into some kind of ontological lack. Whereas I have never had a gynecologist say: if you don’t do something drastic, you are going to lose that ovary. Ovaries do occasionally have to come out, but it’s not because you weren’t buffing and polishing them.

    So, how do we treat the after effects of these discomfort-fests? Chocolate and benzodiazapines? Loud movies where many men die? Complete immersion in a Thursday Next novel?

  39. I prefer the dermatologist….oh wait…that wasn’t one of the choices.

  40. I prefer the dermatologist….oh wait…that wasn’t one of the choices.

  41. Ann Handley says:

    So many of these comments made me laugh out loud… ! Thank god. Because for some reason I felt weirdly insecure about this post. I thought it might be too crude, or too oddball, or whatever. It was nice to read responses and just… well, lighten up.

    And by the way, I think Christian offers the ultimate male response when he says…. “Now I can sit down in the chair thinking, ‘Well, at least I’m not at the gynecologist.’ Thanks for that.” Coffee sputtered out of my nose at that one….

  42. Ann Handley says:

    So many of these comments made me laugh out loud… ! Thank god. Because for some reason I felt weirdly insecure about this post. I thought it might be too crude, or too oddball, or whatever. It was nice to read responses and just… well, lighten up.

    And by the way, I think Christian offers the ultimate male response when he says…. “Now I can sit down in the chair thinking, ‘Well, at least I’m not at the gynecologist.’ Thanks for that.” Coffee sputtered out of my nose at that one….

  43. From Mellissa, above: “So, how do we treat the after effects of these discomfort-fests? Loud movies where many men die?”

    Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha – *choke* *gasp* (falls to the floor)

  44. From Mellissa, above: “So, how do we treat the after effects of these discomfort-fests? Loud movies where many men die?”

    Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha – *choke* *gasp* (falls to the floor)

  45. I like my dentist. I asked him one day what motivated him to become a dentist because I always wondered if he knew he wanted to be a dentist since he was 7.

    Not the case. He fell into it.

    Fell into it? Yeah, the man said he was looking for security and after his research decided being a dentist was his best bet. Not really falling into it, but I let that go. His other choice was a mortician.

  46. I like my dentist. I asked him one day what motivated him to become a dentist because I always wondered if he knew he wanted to be a dentist since he was 7.

    Not the case. He fell into it.

    Fell into it? Yeah, the man said he was looking for security and after his research decided being a dentist was his best bet. Not really falling into it, but I let that go. His other choice was a mortician.

  47. Dana says:

    Ann,
    I think I had coffee sputtering out of my nose about 10 times when I read your post and everyone’s comments! How funny!

    I have permanent bars on the back of my teeth after wearing braces 3 times in my life – I said that’s it. Put the bars on. I get so much s**t, EVERY time I go to the dentist for having them. Oh honey, these bars, they are not really great for flossing and your teeth. Oh honey, I understand why you want them but they make it tough. I go an extra time a year for my cleanings because I have these bars. SHUT UP and JUST CLEAN my teeth for heaven’s sake. The bars aren’t going anywhere! DAMN!

    The gynecologist, not fun, but normally over in a matter of short minutes. Not my ideal way of spending my day. But, no lectures.

    I vote oddly for the gynecologist visit. I cant’ believe I just said that. But after much thought and consideration – yes, that’s the way I’m voting.

  48. Dana says:

    Ann,
    I think I had coffee sputtering out of my nose about 10 times when I read your post and everyone’s comments! How funny!

    I have permanent bars on the back of my teeth after wearing braces 3 times in my life – I said that’s it. Put the bars on. I get so much s**t, EVERY time I go to the dentist for having them. Oh honey, these bars, they are not really great for flossing and your teeth. Oh honey, I understand why you want them but they make it tough. I go an extra time a year for my cleanings because I have these bars. SHUT UP and JUST CLEAN my teeth for heaven’s sake. The bars aren’t going anywhere! DAMN!

    The gynecologist, not fun, but normally over in a matter of short minutes. Not my ideal way of spending my day. But, no lectures.

    I vote oddly for the gynecologist visit. I cant’ believe I just said that. But after much thought and consideration – yes, that’s the way I’m voting.

  49. Amy Stewart says:

    I dislike all things gastro-gynecological for sure, but the dentist is the one who always makes you feel bad for not living up to their expectations. In that way, you could say that visiting the dentist is a bit like visiting your folks.

    But the most space-invading doctor is definitely the shrink!

  50. Amy Stewart says:

    I dislike all things gastro-gynecological for sure, but the dentist is the one who always makes you feel bad for not living up to their expectations. In that way, you could say that visiting the dentist is a bit like visiting your folks.

    But the most space-invading doctor is definitely the shrink!

  51. Stacey Pfeifer says:

    A debate my friends and I have had for many years with no final decision. But I am curious why men are so skittish about the topic even as they generously comment on your post. I get it, girl-stuff, but what’s REALLY going on with the profound discomfort? I’m truly curious.

    Is it their primal urge to help women colliding with a deep layer of collective unnamed masculine guilt?

    Men…wanna shed some light on this examination?

  52. Stacey Pfeifer says:

    A debate my friends and I have had for many years with no final decision. But I am curious why men are so skittish about the topic even as they generously comment on your post. I get it, girl-stuff, but what’s REALLY going on with the profound discomfort? I’m truly curious.

    Is it their primal urge to help women colliding with a deep layer of collective unnamed masculine guilt?

    Men…wanna shed some light on this examination?

  53. Janine says:

    The gynecologist, no question. They don’t speak to you as if you were six years old. Dentists out there, take note! Your reputations are at stake.

  54. Janine says:

    The gynecologist, no question. They don’t speak to you as if you were six years old. Dentists out there, take note! Your reputations are at stake.

  55. Jim Sutton says:

    Obviously, I am not in a position to answer your question, but reading your blog made me google dentists and suicide rate. I found this somewhat interesting post at http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2301/do-dentists-have-the-highest-suicide-rate
    No one likes going to the dentist, but even more would we dislike and suffer if we didn’t have good ones. A dentist I know personally told me that I was one of the few patients she ever had who keeps his eyes open throughout the procedures. It’s true that I like to try and keep track of what’s going on and keeping my eyes open keeps me engaged even while I am trying to dis-associate from the pain.
    I have liked them a lot less since they started demanding payment at time of service instead of trusting us to pay the bill.

  56. Jim Sutton says:

    Obviously, I am not in a position to answer your question, but reading your blog made me google dentists and suicide rate. I found this somewhat interesting post at http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2301/do-dentists-have-the-highest-suicide-rate
    No one likes going to the dentist, but even more would we dislike and suffer if we didn’t have good ones. A dentist I know personally told me that I was one of the few patients she ever had who keeps his eyes open throughout the procedures. It’s true that I like to try and keep track of what’s going on and keeping my eyes open keeps me engaged even while I am trying to dis-associate from the pain.
    I have liked them a lot less since they started demanding payment at time of service instead of trusting us to pay the bill.

  57. I prefer the gyno because she is really kind and caring, plus she brings babies into the world.

    The dentist is always telling me I brush too hard also. What? I tried so hard to take care of my teeth that I wore off my gums! Why didn’t they give tooth brush lessons in school and warn us of the danger of over-brushing? Safe sex but not safe brushing? Soft bristles!

  58. I prefer the gyno because she is really kind and caring, plus she brings babies into the world.

    The dentist is always telling me I brush too hard also. What? I tried so hard to take care of my teeth that I wore off my gums! Why didn’t they give tooth brush lessons in school and warn us of the danger of over-brushing? Safe sex but not safe brushing? Soft bristles!

  59. vickivanv says:

    Dentist. At least I can kind of see what’s going on–and in–during a dental cleaning.

  60. vickivanv says:

    Dentist. At least I can kind of see what’s going on–and in–during a dental cleaning.

  61. Julie says:

    I made the mistake of going to a dentist who is now part of our social circle. Embarrassing. They can see the whole history of your life right there. I told my husband, “He’s been in my mouth.” He didn’t like that joke. But the dentist has the most gentle hygientist — it’s like a tooth massage. Cleaning is painless and she compliments my lack of tartar and flossing. I never floss. She told me that hereditary plays a big part in how your teeth hold up. Thanks Grandma.

  62. Julie says:

    I made the mistake of going to a dentist who is now part of our social circle. Embarrassing. They can see the whole history of your life right there. I told my husband, “He’s been in my mouth.” He didn’t like that joke. But the dentist has the most gentle hygientist — it’s like a tooth massage. Cleaning is painless and she compliments my lack of tartar and flossing. I never floss. She told me that hereditary plays a big part in how your teeth hold up. Thanks Grandma.

  63. David Reich says:

    My preference is the dentist. The only negative is that my health plan doesn’t have dental coverage, so it costs. I’m in the midst of some dental work that’s going to cost around $2,000, all out of my pocket.

    Visits to the urologist, which I hate despite the fact that I like the doctor just to chat with about non-urology stuff, cost only a $20 co-pay.

    Ah, the joys of our health care system.

  64. David Reich says:

    My preference is the dentist. The only negative is that my health plan doesn’t have dental coverage, so it costs. I’m in the midst of some dental work that’s going to cost around $2,000, all out of my pocket.

    Visits to the urologist, which I hate despite the fact that I like the doctor just to chat with about non-urology stuff, cost only a $20 co-pay.

    Ah, the joys of our health care system.

  65. Ann Handley says:

    Here’s what I love about blog feedback: Claudia’s comment above made me think about “exposure” generally.

    When she says…

    “For this one, I think that the underlying debate is about how and when you want to give access to your ‘true’ inside. But well thought I don’t think that dentists and gynecologists know the truth of the world! So even if they have the power to make you ‘open’ for them, and that’s why I think it is difficult to say which one we dislike less, they touch only like a superficial intimate.”

    .. she raises a key point. The truth is that I’m way more exposed on this blog than I am in any exam room. And that’s probably true of a lot of us who write personal blogs. Thanks Claudia, for furthering my thinking!

  66. Ann Handley says:

    Here’s what I love about blog feedback: Claudia’s comment above made me think about “exposure” generally.

    When she says…

    “For this one, I think that the underlying debate is about how and when you want to give access to your ‘true’ inside. But well thought I don’t think that dentists and gynecologists know the truth of the world! So even if they have the power to make you ‘open’ for them, and that’s why I think it is difficult to say which one we dislike less, they touch only like a superficial intimate.”

    .. she raises a key point. The truth is that I’m way more exposed on this blog than I am in any exam room. And that’s probably true of a lot of us who write personal blogs. Thanks Claudia, for furthering my thinking!

  67. Desarae Veit says:

    HAHAHA! The fun/ny things we do out of boredom. Although, I might have to agree with a previous comment… it may be best if we (the public) don’t know what people are cognitively wondering into while we are sitting bored together.

    Desarae
    http://www.dveit.com

  68. Desarae Veit says:

    HAHAHA! The fun/ny things we do out of boredom. Although, I might have to agree with a previous comment… it may be best if we (the public) don’t know what people are cognitively wondering into while we are sitting bored together.

    Desarae
    http://www.dveit.com

  69. Zil says:

    Surprising but true. I have to say I dislike the dentist much more than I dislike my visits to the gynecologist. I’ve just had so much trouble with my teeth for the past 20+ years. Even though they look great on the “ouside” they have brought me so much physical, financial and psychological hardship! Luckily, on the other hand, that has not been the case at the gyno (knock wood, throw salt over my shoulder, don’t cross the path of a black cat, stay away from ladders…..)

  70. Zil says:

    Surprising but true. I have to say I dislike the dentist much more than I dislike my visits to the gynecologist. I’ve just had so much trouble with my teeth for the past 20+ years. Even though they look great on the “ouside” they have brought me so much physical, financial and psychological hardship! Luckily, on the other hand, that has not been the case at the gyno (knock wood, throw salt over my shoulder, don’t cross the path of a black cat, stay away from ladders…..)

  71. Ad Broad says:

    Love this beautifully written, er, exploration, Ann. My favorite part: “I nodded mutely, the taste of latex in my mouth.” Brings me right there with you, supine in that vulnerable–why do they call it chair? It’s more of a chaise lounge. But I’d rather be there than at the gynocologist. And yours does have a point about mammographers. A field that had to have been invented by docs without breasts. I mean, can you imagine making a guy hold his breath while you smash his most vulnerable body part under glass?

  72. Ad Broad says:

    Love this beautifully written, er, exploration, Ann. My favorite part: “I nodded mutely, the taste of latex in my mouth.” Brings me right there with you, supine in that vulnerable–why do they call it chair? It’s more of a chaise lounge. But I’d rather be there than at the gynocologist. And yours does have a point about mammographers. A field that had to have been invented by docs without breasts. I mean, can you imagine making a guy hold his breath while you smash his most vulnerable body part under glass?

  73. I just went to the dentist last week and jumped all over the hygienist when she said something like “you know, your xrays are long outdated” … ARGH. Just like you, Ann, I am on top of this toothcare thing and any new dentist I start with looks with awe and wonder at how well I’ve taken care of my mouth over these 40+ years. But it never is good enough. They want you to spend another $200 just to be sure or “just to have a baseline.” So – the irritation level is high with the dentist but the actual procedures don’t bother me that much. In the meantime – the other doctor we are discussing… her office is so nice and she is like a friend and so the appointment/time spent is pleasant, BUT for those specific 5 minutes.

  74. I just went to the dentist last week and jumped all over the hygienist when she said something like “you know, your xrays are long outdated” … ARGH. Just like you, Ann, I am on top of this toothcare thing and any new dentist I start with looks with awe and wonder at how well I’ve taken care of my mouth over these 40+ years. But it never is good enough. They want you to spend another $200 just to be sure or “just to have a baseline.” So – the irritation level is high with the dentist but the actual procedures don’t bother me that much. In the meantime – the other doctor we are discussing… her office is so nice and she is like a friend and so the appointment/time spent is pleasant, BUT for those specific 5 minutes.

  75. FindMeSexy says:

    a little Twitter bird says it is your birthday. Happy birthday

  76. FindMeSexy says:

    a little Twitter bird says it is your birthday. Happy birthday

  77. Joanie says:

    Dentist, definitely. Compare the duration of an ob/gyn exam to the endless forever of a root canal…

  78. Joanie says:

    Dentist, definitely. Compare the duration of an ob/gyn exam to the endless forever of a root canal…

  79. I never considered this debate before, but how timely as I have to make appointments for both this week.

    I will dread the dentist more. My anxiety is greater and the pain inevitably is greater at the tooth man.

    My other appointment, while unnerving, is rarely painful and done with a midwife that is like a second aunt to me.

    Exposure in and of itself, remains awkward. :)

  80. I never considered this debate before, but how timely as I have to make appointments for both this week.

    I will dread the dentist more. My anxiety is greater and the pain inevitably is greater at the tooth man.

    My other appointment, while unnerving, is rarely painful and done with a midwife that is like a second aunt to me.

    Exposure in and of itself, remains awkward. :)

  81. pprlisa says:

    Ann,

    First of all, HILARIOUS post.

    I have had this discussion in my head many times, and I tell you I would rather get a mammogram or visit the GYN every week than go to the dentist once a year. I hate the pain, but worse, I hate the judging – the judging actually makes me avoid going. Also, its impossible to zone out – in a mamm or gyno visit – you can go somewhere else in your head – but not at the dentist, there is NO avoiding thinking about what they are doing in there.

    Also funny – Jim Sutton in your comments links to the Straight Dope website – and I recognized the question about dentist suicide right away – my sister asked that question about ten years ago on that site – Terey Allen. How random is that :)

    Keep making us laugh-

    -Lisa

  82. pprlisa says:

    Ann,

    First of all, HILARIOUS post.

    I have had this discussion in my head many times, and I tell you I would rather get a mammogram or visit the GYN every week than go to the dentist once a year. I hate the pain, but worse, I hate the judging – the judging actually makes me avoid going. Also, its impossible to zone out – in a mamm or gyno visit – you can go somewhere else in your head – but not at the dentist, there is NO avoiding thinking about what they are doing in there.

    Also funny – Jim Sutton in your comments links to the Straight Dope website – and I recognized the question about dentist suicide right away – my sister asked that question about ten years ago on that site – Terey Allen. How random is that :)

    Keep making us laugh-

    -Lisa

  83. GiGi says:

    Prefer the dentist but always say I *might* be pregnant to avoid the x-rays…my dentist has caught on, though. If you write a book or blog about funny lines that women hear, please use these two from the gyno that always make me laugh, “Scoot down even more” and “relax.” The other funny line at the mammo appointment is always, “don’t move.” As if!

  84. GiGi says:

    Prefer the dentist but always say I *might* be pregnant to avoid the x-rays…my dentist has caught on, though. If you write a book or blog about funny lines that women hear, please use these two from the gyno that always make me laugh, “Scoot down even more” and “relax.” The other funny line at the mammo appointment is always, “don’t move.” As if!

  85. Roshan says:

    I must say that I admire women for all that ob-gyn stuff that they have to put up with. It’s something that a man will never know and we would probably mess it up if we had to go through it.

  86. Roshan says:

    I must say that I admire women for all that ob-gyn stuff that they have to put up with. It’s something that a man will never know and we would probably mess it up if we had to go through it.

  87. @Andrea Learned, I can’t help thinking that you’re on to something. And that something is that dental X-rays don’t seem to be all that necessary.

    Unless they’re trying to make some sort of X-ray-based diagnosis, why in the Sam Hill do they need to keep doing them? To keep up the payments on the X-ray machine?

  88. @Andrea Learned, I can’t help thinking that you’re on to something. And that something is that dental X-rays don’t seem to be all that necessary.

    Unless they’re trying to make some sort of X-ray-based diagnosis, why in the Sam Hill do they need to keep doing them? To keep up the payments on the X-ray machine?

  89. Shama says:

    The doctor. Once a year! Yayy.

    1 appointment with the dentist usually leads to a lot more!

  90. Shama says:

    The doctor. Once a year! Yayy.

    1 appointment with the dentist usually leads to a lot more!

  91. As I have undoubtedly the best dentist in the whole tri-state area, he wins, hands down. Painless, quick and hilarious. How I like all my dates. I mean, appointments with professionals. I’m a big weenie at the gyno’s office. That didn’t come out right…

  92. As I have undoubtedly the best dentist in the whole tri-state area, he wins, hands down. Painless, quick and hilarious. How I like all my dates. I mean, appointments with professionals. I’m a big weenie at the gyno’s office. That didn’t come out right…

  93. I go to dentist every 6 months. That's something I can't live without.

  94. The doctors and dentists are both specialized in their fields and can't be compared. The doctors are trained in their own filed of diseases while the dentists takes care of the people teet and give them charming smile.

  95. Sometimes going to visit to these practitioners is scary. They look like the ones in horror films. Good comparison though.

  96. Sometimes going to visit to these practitioners is scary. They look like the ones in horror films. Good comparison though.

  97. At least the mouth is a lot more decent than the other private area you were talking about. And with that, the dentist wins! Hahaha! More points? Which hurts more? Having dental implants put on you or a surgery on your you-know what? Well anyway, I’d still pick a dentist when you talk about granting access to private areas. Speaking of dentists, I have to visit one this weekend here in Las Vegas.

  98. Robin Maner says:

    I would rather go to the dentist than the urologist in the matter of awkwardness. People often realize how important it is to have dentists around after some good visit. As long as there are bad set of teeth, there will always be dentists to take care of them. Everyone in the profession of examining sensitive and private parts of every patient deserves high respect, of course. Just imagining life without them makes me cringe. Hehe!

  99. Klynne says:

    Why I like having the gyno better? She is in and out. Done within a few minutes. The oral cleaning takes 30 minutes and it sucks. Going to the dentist tomorrow. Ick.

  100. elle says:

    I guess I’m the minority, but I choose the dentist over the gyno anyday. A gyno exam may be over quickly, but it’s still private, intimate, and a lot more invasive. I’d also take the pain of a root canal over the discomfort of a gyno exam. Poking around in my mouth >>>>>>> poking around in my lady bits.

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