Ode to Dr. Coodin

I have had a dental phobia since I was a kid. My childhood dentist looked like Vincent Price and was creepy as fuck. Plus he would drill my bottom teeth when they were not frozen. I once had to have 2 teeth pulled on the bottom to make space, my bottom teeth do not freeze, I was severely traumatized.

In my teens and 20s I avoided the dentist with everything I had until it caught up to me. I had a choice between having them all pulled or enduring the dental work. Ativan in hand, I endured hours in the dentist chair. My bottom teeth still didn’t freeze. To fix my front bottom teeth they once had to go so deep to inject right into the nerve so they could work on them. I was again severely traumatized.

Fast forward to our move to Vancouver in the early aughts and a new dentist entered our lives: Dr. Arnie Coodin. Dr. Coodin was a simple dentist – he didn’t whiten teeth or do any cosmetic procedures. He had 2 chairs – one for cleaning and one for fixing. He did everything himself. Up until Dr. Coodin, I could not stand to have my teeth cleaned and would never let them scale them. He made a deal with me – we started with one ¼ of my mouth at a time. He had a dictum he followed: “If I hurt you, you will not come back.” Now most dentists have a hygienist who cleans all the teeth. Not Dr. Coodin. He said cleaning teeth relaxed him. Over the course of a decade or so, Dr. Coodin got me used to having my teeth cleaned, he even did root planing and it was all fine. I owe him a huge debt of appreciation.

Eventually Dr. Coodin retired (we still drove to Vancouver to see him even living in MR). I was panic-filled. We had to find a new dentist. We started going to Valley Fair Dental because of a car ad I saw that said they ‘catered to cowards’ and offered ‘sedation’ dentistry’. Both Deb and I have had quite a bit of work done there. If it involves my bottom teeth, I opt for sedation. If it is on the top and fairly simple, I can tolerate the anesthetic needle to get it done.

Now, Paul scales and cleans my teeth. He told me today he can’t believe I ever used to be phobic. I told him it was all because of Dr. Coodin.