I know it’s at the top of everyone’s bucket lists to go to the dentist while they're on vacation. I mean what if you start having too much fun and need to tame it down a bit? Getting your teeth scraped should accomplish just that. Overwhelmed by too much beautiful scenery? Listening to a dentist’s drill will help. Or maybe you genuinely enjoy getting your gums stabbed. In that case, go ahead and go to the dentist. Be my guest.

Unfortunately, when your life is a permanent vacation, those little necessities like dentist visits don’t go away. Fletch and I realized this a few months back and tried to set up cleaning appointments. We went to the office next to Rock Island Cafe and they didn’t have anything available until June and wanted a $20 deposit per appointment. So we tried the office at the hospital. They told us that they only take bookings on the last day of the month for the following two months. We returned on the last day of the month and they were already completely booked for the next two months. We figured that was code for “No white people.” So we returned to the first office and put down our deposits for June.


The office smelled horrible. It smelled clean, but not like nice smelling soaps, rather some sickening combination of latex and bleach and old building. We sat down in folding chairs and stared at the undecorated white walls to wait.

Fletch went first, and before he reappeared twenty minutes later, I heard him tell the dentist from the other room, “She’s really nervous, so please be gentle.” Either he took the joke I had made that morning that I wasn’t going to go a little too seriously, or it was about to be really bad.

I walked into the cubicle with the dental chair to find more white walls. All the dentists I’ve ever been to in Colorado always had nice offices with windows overlooking the flatirons. I figured that must be in the handbook of how to open up a dentist office: "have nice view overlooking mountains." Not here though, just white walls.

The lady handed me a pair of goggles with an evil grin and the torture began.

She started with the gum-stabbing, scraper pick on my lower teeth. Scrape scrape scrape. Then stopped and walked away. Then wheeled some contraption back. I could never tell what she was saying, I think she had a mouth full of betel nut behind her mask, but she mumbled something along the lines of, “I thought I could do without but maybe not.” The mystery didn’t last for long. A high pitched drilling noise started and the gum-stabbing, scraper pick was replaced by the nails-on-a-chalkboard drill. Oh goody, now not only could my teeth be assaulted, but my ears as well. She drilled her way along the surface of my teeth, probing painfully at my gums as she went. Having never experienced anything of the sort, I figured this must be some new toy from Guam. They’re pretty advanced there. They have free wifi hotspots in their taxi cabs and everything. Then Fletch told me later that he hadn’t had his teeth cleaned with the nails-on-a-chalkboard drill since the 80's. I can see why the gum-stabbing, scraper pick is preferable.

She had other torture devices as well, a little hose that sprayed water all over my face (hence the need for goggles), and the little spit-sucker-upper. The spit-sucker-upper didn’t really work and so the water from the hose that didn’t land all over my face pooled uncomfortably in the back of my throat. I wasn't sure what was worse, the drowning sensation or the sharp drill landing repeatedly on my gums. At one point she instructed me to bite down on the spit-sucker-upper to hold it where she wanted it. I’m amazed I didn’t bite the thing in half.

By the time I was certain my gums were destroyed, she finally pulled out the polish which was very disappointingly not cherry or bubblegum flavored. In fact there was no flavor at all, just a very odd odor that inspired me to hold my breath for the remainder of the polishing session.

When it was all over she handed me a mirror and a wet paper towel and mumbled something behind her mask. Where did she think we were, the hair salon and I was supposed to make sure I liked the job she had done? Oh sorry could you scrape this tooth a little more? I asked her to repeat what she had mumbled and finally caught that the paper towel was to wipe my face. Oh right, because the hose had sprayed the contents of my mouth everywhere.

Then she handed me my complimentary toothbrush and floss and sent me on my way, without so much as a spiel on how I need to floss more. (I’m convinced you could floss ten times a day and they would still tell you to floss more). Maybe she realized I had been tortured enough for one day without the standard, added guilt trip. 

Kyle showing off the cleanest pearly whites he's had since 2007.