Ruth Mason walked into the dentist office fifteen minutes early, even though she dreaded the appointment. She was early for everything. Her husband joked that she’d be early for her own funeral, but Ruth liked to think that she was punctual.
The bland beige office with its bland beige sofa did nothing to relax her tension. Neither did the two-month-old magazines she now flipped through without really seeing. Soft elevator music played in the background, but it annoyed rather than helped.
When the assistant finally called her back, 20 minutes late, Ruth jumped at the sound of her name. She wouldn’t be here at all except her tooth had really been bothering her for the last several days. There was no getting around it. She needed it fixed.
The assistant carried in a tray that the dentist would need, setting it on the small table beside her. The sunlight glinted off the metal array, making them look like dangerous weapons. Ruth’s hands began to sweat and she closed her eyes.
“The doctor will be with you shortly,” the assistant said and left the room.
Ruth was glad to be left alone. The girl was excessively cheerful, blending with the elevator music to create a nauseating experience.
Ms. Chirpy came back to take x-rays and left again. After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor arrived.
“It’s a good thing you came in before the tooth became infected.” Dr. Jessop examined the upper molar in Ruth’s mouth, comparing it to the x-ray. It needed a root canal without any further delay. He injected the lidocaine in several spots.
“The upper teeth are very close to the sinus cavity, which is a direct pathway to the brain. We wouldn’t want an infection to work its way in there, now would we?”
Ruth grunted her assent, wondering why dentists always chose to ask questions when their patients couldn’t answer. Maybe they taught that in dental school. Still, overall he was a kind man. She’d been coming to him for years.
Left alone in the chair while the anesthetic took effect, Ruth studied the same plaques on the wall that she’d seen a dozen times before. She never remembered to bring something to read in with her, although it’d be a blur since her nerves were always on edge here. A visit to the dentist wasn’t on her list of favorite outings.
Dr. Jessop came back in with another tray, covered in a white cloth. He set it down on a table behind Ruth’s head. After inserting a bite block into her mouth, he asked if she was ready.
Ruth gargled a response that made no sense and squeezed her eyes shut, just as she always did. That was why she missed the power drill with the 1/2” bit.
“I’ve often wondered just how close the sinus cavity really is to the upper teeth so I brought my own tools in this morning to experiment.”
The doctor hummed along to the song of the drill, adjusting angles to compensate for the lolled head of his patient.
“Thank you for being such a quiet patient, Ms. Mason. It makes the job so much more pleasant.”

"Bits and Pieces"

Copyright: © 2011 Laura Eno

Laura Eno lives in Florida with a very tolerant husband, three skulking cats and an absurdly happy dog. She has a pet from the Underworld named Jezebel and a skull called Mr. Fluffy who help her write novels late at night. Please visit her strange imagination at


  1. And that is why I HATE going to the dentist...And why I will always remain awake and watchful.

  2. Ow, what a nightmare! When the second tray was put beside her I started to wonder... O.o

  3. I just cancelled a dental appointment and now I remember why.
    I have one suggestion to make the dentist more fun: laughing gas - the more the 'merrier.'
    Very painfully realistic story, Laura... well done!

  4. Does anybody really enjoy going to the dentist? As I read your story, I kept wanting to yell, Get Out!! Now!

  5. Ouch, thats all I have to say.

  6. Great ... now my tooth has just started to hurt!!

  7. OK - that's it. Never, never going to the dentist, ever again!

    And, as with another commenter, that's when my tooth starts to hurt!

    Excellent story, Laura. As always.