I had a dentist appointment today. I hate dentists. No wait – I should qualify that. I don’t hate dentists. Most of the dentists I know are decent people and not worthy of my hatred. My own dentist is, in fact, a fine man and I hold no ill will toward him. He’s handsome to boot. But I digress… what I really mean to say is I HATE DENTIST APPOINTMENTS!

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that makes a person feel more vulnerable and passive than lying flat on your back in a chair with your mouth wide open. You are at the mercy of their instruments, you have no proper means of communication (unless you consider grunting inaudibly communication), you have nothing to do but stare up at the face poised inches from your own, the drool runs freely down your chin… need I go on?

But worse than the feeling of vulnerability is the feeling of shame. The moment I step into a dentist’s office, my mind goes to that “I’m a failure at oral hygiene” place, and that’s an ugly place. It’s not unlike a visit to the confessional. “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 2 years since I last flossed. I eat candy too often, and once in awhile, I even go to bed without brushing my teeth.” Oh, the shame! “What can I do for absolution? Oh yes, I suppose I could start with flossing…” But then I go home from the dentist, floss once or twice, and revert very quickly to my old sinful habits. Only to face the shame again the next time I visit. I feel so stupid every time I have to answer that “did you floss” question with a pitiful “no”. But I never mend my wicked ways.

Ah, but this isn’t the end of this post… there’s a lovely little bit of poetic justice I’d like to tell you about. In September, I’ll be doing my first official (i.e. paid) consulting job. I’m facilitating a teambuilding/leadership retreat. And guess who my clients are. Yup, none other than a dental practice! Now isn’t that a delightful piece of irony? A growing dental practice is hiring ME to serve as an expert for THEM! I get to be the smart one in the room – the one who has some expertise that THEY want to learn from! HA HA! It makes me want to giggle with glee!

I know it wouldn’t be all that conducive to “teambuilding”, but do you suppose I could turn the tables and make THEM feel like they’re visiting confessional? I can almost hear it… “Forgive me Mother for I have sinned. I have treated the hygienists as less valuable members of the team. I skipped the teambuilding barbecue last summer. And no, I didn’t really have sick kids – I was out golfing.”

Ah, the devious part of my brain is delighting in the possibilities! Maybe I could build a practise out of “Teambuilding for Dentists”. It would be like therapy for all those times I’ve sat in their chairs. Think I’ll start making up my business cards…

(Oh, and by the way – guess what I was doing while reclined in the dental chair. Why, I was composing this blog in my head, of course. You really should try it. It’s a great way to distract yourself from the fact that someone is wielding a sharp instrument in your mouth!)

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