In 1986, Steve Martin’s role in Little Shop of Horrors was Orin Scrivello D.D.S. In it, he captured how many of us feel about going to the dentist:
Steve Martin’s role as the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors captured how many of us feel about going to the dentist.
Because of a congenital dental issue that I shared with several cousins on my mother’s side of the family, my lateral incisor on one side never appeared after I lost my baby teeth. On the other side, it was there but small. While we both looked cute in this photo, we had gaps between our teeth that needed to be addressed.
My earliest memories of the dentist revolved around the frequent and painful visits I had to remedy this problem. My family dentist’s solution was to remove the too small incisor to “even things out.” I know this would never happen now because my granddaughter inherited the same problem and her dentist capped the tooth while her orthodontist worked some magic on the other side that resulted in a beautiful smile and no bridges. But back in the day, my cousin Annette and I took the bus to downtown Detroit, newly minted teens with messed up teeth, to see our orthodontist, Dr. Teetsel. I don’t imagine he was renowned in his field, but my family looked for bargains in their medical providers.
Thus, Annette and I began our journey toward fixing our smiles through multiple painful dental visits. The only good part of these frequent visits was that his office was located in an office building right next to a Saunders ice cream shop. There is nothing better than their butter pecan ice cream topped with their hot fudge, which is the way we ended every visit as a reward for enduring the pain he inflicted.
My first dental bridge was made of plastic by my parents’ dentist, most likely to keep the cost down. When I moved to Chicago, I went to the dentist my future husband’s family used. He was especially kind to us in terms of charging very little, but he did not believe in using Novocain. He also proclaimed I needed a new bridge ASAP so I would have a pretty smile at my wedding. The work to create that smile was so painful that I prayed I would never have to replace it again.
Alas, I needed to go through it twice more, but this time I had found a very gentle dentist, Dr. Stephens. When he retired, I saw one of his sons, Dr. Bob, who replaced the bridge for what I’m sure is the last time (both a happy and frightening thought) in time for my granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah in 2019.
Ironically, when I first met Dr. Bob, he looked a bit like Steve Martin’s Orin Scrivello D.D.S. His motorcycle and black leather jacket transformed my dentist-fearing daughter, who was now eager to go because she had a massive crush on him. Dr. Bob just retired. Time to form a new dental partnership with his replacement. Going next week for a filling. Wish me luck.
In case you have forgotten, here are the lyrics from The Dentist!
When I was younger, just a bad little kid
My mama noticed funny things I did
Like shootin’ puppies with a BB gun
I’d poison guppies, and when I was done
I’d find a pussycat and bash in its head
That’s when my mama said
(What did she say?)
She said, “My boy, I think someday
You’ll find a way
To make your natural tendencies pay
You’ll be a dentist (You’ll be a dentist)
You have a talent for causin’ things pain (Pain)
Son, be a dentist (Son, be a dentist)
People will pay you to be inhumane (Inhumane)
Your temperament’s wrong for the priesthood
And teaching would suit you still less
Son, be a dentist
You’ll be a success!”
Here he is folks, the leader of the plaque!
Watch him suck up that gas, oh my god!
He’s a dentist and he’ll never ever be any good
Who wants their teeth done by the Marquis de Sade?
Oh, that hurts! Wait, I’m not numb!
Oh, shut up
Open wide, here I come!
I am your dentist (Goodness gracious)
And I enjoy the career that I picked (Love it)
I am your dentist (Fitting braces)
And I get off on the pain I inflict (Really love it)
I thrill when I drill a bicuspid (Bicuspid)
It’s swell though they tell me I’m maladjusted (Dentist)
And though it may cause my patients distress (Distress)
Somewhere, somewhere in heaven above me
I know, I know, that my mama’s proud of me
‘Cause I’m a dentist, and a success!
Say ah! (Ah)
Say ah! (Ah)
Say ah! (Ah)
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.