Meet My Dentist, Dr. Mandible


I just got home from a trip to the dentist. I hate the dentist. HATE the dentist. Oh, I don’t mind having my teeth worked on, I just can’t stand the guy who does it. I want to reach over the tray and punch him in the head.

Just kidding. Dr. Mandible is a great dentist, and a musician to boot. I just cannot stand the whole experience. Before I met Barb back in the 20th century, I hadn’t seen a dentist in about ten years. My teeth were held together with Gorilla Glue and bits of duct tape. So, like a rancher checking the teeth of a horse he hopes to ride, she peered in my mouth and sent me off to the dentist.

My threshold of dental pain is somewhere in the basement. Even for simple cleanings, I insisted on being numbed up. One time they tried out a new form of anesthetic, an electronic device that I controlled with a dial.

“It sends a low-voltage current through your jaw, that cancels out the pain signals,” explained the hygienist. “Start with the dial on about three, and then inch it up as you need.” She left the room to get some vise-grips, and of course I cranked it right to ten. She came back and started poking around with a probe, and a spark shot from one of my teeth to the tool—I saw the reflection in her glasses—and all the Gorilla Glue in the world couldn’t have kept me in that chair.

Eventually, my teeth got healthier and the painful moments were less frequent. I had root canals, fillings, crowns, all that stuff. Barb’s insistence on my dental health wasn’t my only motivation, though. I remember when I was a kid, sitting next to my grandpa at his dinner table. He’d take his teeth out and set them next to his plate, and start gumming a huge stack of hotcakes. Then, Aunt Jemima dripping down his chin, he’d start yammering on and on but no one could understand a goddamn thing he was saying: “Hummina hoomina himmina hummina…” although I’m sure they were great stories of the good old days.

So this morning Dr. Mandible walks into the exam room where I’m sprawled in the Recliner of Torture, reading an article in Sports Illustrated about a possible merger between the AFL and the NFL.

“Hey, Doc, you should get some new magazines, man. I remember cutting out this photo of Dick Butkus when I was nine.” I toss the magazine on the floor while Dr. Mandible checks out the x-rays on his computer monitor.


My dentist gives me one of these after every root canal.

“You’ve got a renticulated vestibule, with a partially hydrogenated mezzanine. We’re going to have to do some work on that number 18.” He clicks his mouse, and up-close-and-personal photos of all my teeth appear on the screen. He’s a lover of gadgets, and a couple years ago he got a pen-sized video camera that he puts in your mouth, and live color images of your teeth appear on the monitor. The first time they left me alone with it, I shoved it down my pants. When the hygienist came back in the room, I pointed to the monitor. “Hey, what’s that look like?” I said with a leer.

“Wow,” she said, studying the screen. “It looks kind of like a penis, only smaller.”

Now the dentist is ready to go. He fills me with novacaine. I get the “insurance dose” which leaves me numb from the armpits up.

He reclines my chair, and he grabs a couple of tools off the tray. Then he looks me in the eye, and says, “Is it safe?”

I try to jump out of the chair, but I’m restrained by his assistant, a large woman with a mustache.

“Ha! Just kidding,” says Dr. Mandible. “I just love to do that to people.”

I’m mentally seeking escape routes when he pries open my mouth and says, “What the hell’s this?”

“I had a few Oreos before I came in,” I tell him. “You know, to calm my nerves.”

He has me get up and brush my teeth, then he gets down to business. He peers into my maw, then sits up. “Gee, Bob, you been drinking?”

“Of course. Haven’t you?”

He pokes around my choppers, humming a tune I can’t quite identify. “I see you’ve been flossing,” he says, sounding disappointed.

“Of course,” I answer, but it sounds like “uth corth.”

“Well,” he says, sitting back, “you need to stop tying knots in the floss.”

I’d love to remind him that he’s the one who created all the huge spaces between my molars, but I can’t talk. I swear, every time I eat a turkey dinner, afterwards I’ll floss out enough white meat to make a sandwich.

Still softly humming, he pokes, drills, probes, scrapes and taps, while his assistant tries to suction my tongue out of my head with her Hoover. My left eye is halfway closed because of the horse-sized dose of novacaine, and I stare at the light fixture on the ceiling. I find myself wondering why flies are so attracted to fluorescent bulbs. The ballast plugs could use a cleaning. Some of the acoustic ceiling tiles are water-stained along the edges. Dr. Mandible’s assistant could use a cleaning.

Suddenly I recognize the tune he’s humming. It’s “Fixing a Hole,” by the Beatles.


I have to remember to do this the next time I have my teeth cleaned:

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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