August 26, 2013 posted by Lindsay Ferrier

Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors

After sharing my DENTAL NIGHTMARE with you last week, I drove to my final dental appointment this morning with a grim expression on my face. I was ready, oh so ready, to get this botched crown business over with and move on with my life.

I arrived promptly at ten and a technician called me back immediately. She removed my temporary crown and then a new dentist (still not Dr. Whiteteeth) came in and said tersely, “Hello. I’m Dr. McRootcanal.”

“I’m Lindsay,” I replied in a tone that I believed effectively conveyed the fact that while I was generally a very well-mannered, friendly person with a rich and varied social life, I was not pleased with the current state of things. Introductions established, Dr. McRootcanal got to work. She put my permanent crown in, took it out, used what sounded like a tiny electric drill on it for a moment, put it back in, took it back out, and left the room.

When she returned a few minutes later, she had a strange look on her face.

“I know this has been a horrible experience for you,” she said, sitting down beside my chair so that we were face to face. “And I’m going to say the worst thing you could possibly hear right now.”

I stared at her, mute with horror.

“Your crown doesn’t fit. I’m going to have to numb you up and take another impression.”

“What?” I whispered. “What?!

“I’m so sorry,” she said. I sat in silence for a moment. And then I did something I’ve never done before in a dentist’s chair.

I cried.

Like a little girl.

I cried.

“I don’t understand what’s happening,” I said, sniffling into a Kleenex the technician handed me. “What is going on?”

“I don’t know what Dr. Payne was doing or why this happened,” she said. “All I can say is that you are right to feel this way. This is very unfair and there will be no charge for this crown. I can’t change what happened but I can fix it.”

She was good, I had to admit. But I needed answers. ANSWERS, DAMMIT.

“But… I don’t get it,” I said. “Is this just me? I mean, this all seems really weird.”

“Dr. Payne has had to leave the practice because of some medical issues,” she said. “And I don’t believe he will be returning.”


Dr. McRootcanal had already told me what she thought was the worst possible thing I could hear at that moment, but the lady actually managed to trump herself.

“I hate to ask this,” she said, looking down at my dress, “but are you expecting?”

Y’all. I couldn’t even make this up.

“No,” I said stiffly.

“Well, I… I had to ask,” she stammered, “because… Well… You’re wearing a very loose dress.” I pursed my lips and looked down at my hands. There was simply no recovery from that moment. I lost 15 pounds over the last several weeks, you see, and now that I’m at my goal weight, I thought that I no longer needed to bother with anything like Spanx.

Clearly, I thought wrong.

Sensing an impending breakdown, Dr. McRootcanal strongly suggested that I take advantage of the nitrous oxide option, which I accepted in order to avoid embarrassing myself further in front of the hygienists who had all gathered at the door of my room. Once the gas kicked in, she gave me a big shot of Novocaine and got to work. It was much like the first time around, except that it didn’t hurt as much and she didn’t slice my lip with a sharp instrument. At the end, I was fitted with my THIRD temporary crown, told– once again– that they would put a ‘rush’ on the permanent one, and promised– once again– that they’d call me the moment it arrived.

Still high on the effects of the nitrous oxide, the right side of my mouth and neck completely numb, I stumbled through the office door and somehow made it home. I was just about to conclude this post by saying that, thank God, the worst was now, FINALLY, over.

And then I bit down on a sympathy square of Ghirardelli chocolate… and my temporary crown popped out.




Top image via Wonderlane/Flickr



  • Meg McCormick

    oooohhhhh nooooo. I am… just…. so, so sorry. Dental work is, well, GAH. I’m sorry.

    • suburbanturmoil

      Thank you, Meg. 🙂

  • Holy crap. Seriously?

    • suburbanturmoil


  • ClassyMommy

    OMG. This is horrible. So horrible. Things can only get better now right? And… I miss you! How did I not see you at BlogHer either? xoxo

    • suburbanturmoil

      I heard a rumor you were there… and I didn’t believe it. Because WHY DIDN’T I SEE YOU?! I still have that crazy photo booth flip book, by the way. Oh the memories… 🙂

  • Anne

    There’s nowhere to go from here but up!! “Sucked” is too kind a word for your day. How about “sucked horrendously”? You cried … I’d have screamed! Not to mention that I’d have ripped off my “loose dress” and strangled her with it for asking if I were pg!!

    • suburbanturmoil

      Ha! There was some performance pressure given that I could see half the office standing in the doorway behind me as I cried. It was a little intimidating…

  • Gertie

    You really need to go to a different practice. These quacks have taken enough of your time and dignity, no?

    • suburbanturmoil

      Yes, just trying to get this damn permanent crown and then I’m out. OUT.

  • Leigh

    This almost made ME cry, just thinking about it! I am so sorry, and I have all the sympathy in the world–dental work is just awful anyway, and to go through all this unnecessary stuff . . . and then get asked if you were pregnant . . . I can’t even. And I would report “Dr Payne” to the state licensing board; there is no excuse for how he screwed this all up.

    • suburbanturmoil

      Of all the dentists in the area, I had to end up with that one!

  • Miss B

    I am so, so, so sorry that this is happening to you.

    • suburbanturmoil

      Thank you- It could be worse. Hard to imagine, but… It could be worse! 🙂

      • Miss B

        Like if she throat punched you or something like that on your way out the door, maybe?

  • NancyB

    That definitely falls into the “worst fears realized” category! I would have been crying also because I tend to be really patient with things (“Oh I understand the mixup blah, blah”…) but I think a few F-bombs would have fallen out of my mouth in the process!
    Teeth issues are the WORST!

    • suburbanturmoil

      I was in a predicament- I wanted to walk out, but I HAD NO CROWN. They had even taken out my temporary! AAARRRGGGHH.

  • Yvonne

    I too share in your misery. But before I could get my crown they did a
    root canal. Then they put on the new, VERY expensive crown, and I had
    problems with pain. So I got to sit thru ANOTHER root canal on the same
    tooth. And to do it they had to drill thru my new and VERY expensive
    crown! What is going on with the world of dentistry these days? I guess
    MN dentists aren’t aren’t better than TN dentists! So sorry about your
    trials. I feel for you!

    • suburbanturmoil

      OH NO!!!! Horrible!

  • Melissa

    Oh sweetie!!! I’m so sorry! At least it sounds like Dr. McRootcanal is a better dentist than Dr. Payne. And they’re not going to charge you for the first crown. But I’m still trying to wrap my head around why she felt the need to ask if you were pregnant…?

    • suburbanturmoil

      I guess it’s a standard question before nitrous oxide? But really, couldn’t she have just said “THIS IS A STANDARD QUESTION”???

      • Melissa

        Oh of course not, because that would not have been NEARLY strange enough to add to your horrific saga.

  • jeniferl

    I am so so sorry!!

    • suburbanturmoil

      Thank you. 🙂

  • Keya

    My God.
    Did any black cats cross your path or something? I think this could possibly be a part of a persons annual misfortune. I think everyone has a stretch of time that really stinks and it seems as if nothing can go right.

    • suburbanturmoil

      It has been a horrible few days… You might be on to something, Keya!

  • Natasha Parker

    Oh my! ‘m so sorry to hear this. What has your friend who recommended this office had to say?

  • Amy

    Lindsay – I have been reading your blog for YEARS and YEARS now – and this post really upset me. i have a best friend who is a dental hygienist, has been for 30+ years and is very professional. I sent her the two posts about this and asked for her feedback. She said that you should report this to the state dental board, who is committed to investigating every complaint. She said that this office is definitely not run well, and is not doing quality work and that needs to be looked into for the sake of other patients.
    She also said some other things – for one, you would not have ‘staggered’ to the car under the effects of the nitrous – they give you oxygen afterwards and it totally removes the effects of the gas from your body. She also said that the temporary crowns DO pop out sometimes and that, itself is not a sign of poor dental work.
    However – going back to the 2nd visit, she said that IF the area for the crown had been prepared correctly, they should have just had to make another impression, truly a 10 min thing. NOT numb and do all the other stuff they did initially. And then do it all AGAIN the final time. She said that this is NOT normal procedure and that if you EVER do not understand why a dentist is doing something, you need to STOP and ask and ASK AGAIN until you totally understand, before they proceed.
    She also said that the women crowding around watching were NOT hygienists but were dental assistants (she wanted to preserve the integrity of her sister hygienists on that point, apparently. 🙂 )

    Just wanted to feed that info back to you, as this was a horrific experience, but a complicated one as well.

    On a happier note, I am coming to Nashville tomorrow to attend a work summit at the Hutton Hotel downtown. VERY VERY Excited. Quick question – is it a safe area to walk/run a few miles around in the daytime?
    THANKS! and I hope by the time you are reading this, the crown is safe in your mouth and this chapter is CLOSED!

    • suburbanturmoil

      Thanks for the advice Amy. The Hutton Hotel is definitely safe- it is a great hotel, it’s near Vandy and there are a ton of students walking around in that area by day. 🙂 Have fun!

  • cheesehead4ever

    As the daughter of an endodontist (root canals) I definitely advise you to contact the state board!
    Would love an update post!

  • I am late to the party but I know your pain. I just had a PTSD flashback. I would rather give birth than have another root canal/crown procedure. Actually, a cleaning is tricky for me. They are a sick and evil group of people, those folks who are drawn to working on teeth. There must be a diagnosis in the DSMV for their special predilection. I hope you remain free of any tooth related trauma in the future and many you never hear the words “root planing” uttered in your presence.