I'm not sure what inspired me to become a dentist. One thing I know for sure, though, it had nothing to do with my childhood dentist. I grew up in a small town in western Canada, and I dreaded going to my dentist as a kid.
It wasn't because he approached me with the needle like he was holding a harpoon ready to snag a whale. And it wasn't because he didn't have an awesome treasure chest of toys like my friends' dentists had.
It was because he had the worst breath on the planet.
I always wondered: How can he not know? It'd be like a beautician having a unibrow or Sarah Brightman singing off-key. How could the staff work for this man and let this continue?
And another thing: How come most of the small-talk words in the English language start with the letter H? "H-H-Hi," "H-H-H-Howdy," or "H-H-H-Hello, h-h-how's your mom?"
I developed a move so that when my dentist came over for the exam, I could block my nose internally and breathe through my mouth, enabling me to avoid getting a whiff of his breath.
The only drawback was that it gave my voice a nasally high-pitched sound, and from then on, I was known to the office staff as the kid with the funny voice, prompting Dr. Halitosis to give me the nickname, "my little Smurf patient."
Today, I'm very conscious of the smells in my office, let alone those coming from my mouth. I make sure I don't eat onions or garlic for lunch, and I try to brush and rinse regularly at the office. I'm surprised how many patients comment that their previous dentist or orthodontist had bad breath. One patient even told me his last dentist's breath smelled like a caveman's ass.
So, to all my colleagues: Let's practice what we preach. If for some reason you have a patient talking like a Smurf, double-check the possibility of prehistoric breath!
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