I see you: Keeping both eyes on the dentist, or not

Our youngest just texted that her root canal was over and that she fell asleep in the dental chair. I wasn’t surprised. It’s a family tradition.

When our children were very young and exhausting (I was exhausted, not them), I once went to a dentist for a cleaning and fell sound asleep in the chair. The dentist had to shake my arm to wake me. It was the longest stretch of uninterrupted sleep I’d had in months. I asked if I could come back for another cleaning the next day, but he said no.

I’ve always wondered if dentists are offended when patients fall asleep in the chair. I’m one of those people who become very eye conscious when I go to the dentist. Are you supposed to keep your eyes open or your eyes closed? It’s like those awkward moments when you don’t know what to do with your arms and hands.

I recently was at the dentist to have a filling replaced. The spot was hard to reach. When the dentist’s hand, resting on the side of my face, moved for better positioning, it pulled my left eye closed.

I had one eye open and one eye closed. Do you open the closed eye, or close the open eye?

I’m in the group that keeps my eyes open because the dentist and I talk. That’s right, even shot full of Novocain, the entire side of my face numb and swollen, ice picks and a large vacuum in my mouth, I still can talk. I was telling the dentist something about one of the kids and he was trying to recall what her teeth looked like. I said, “Yoo no—da un hoo neher ushed ad ahays ad good tee.

“Oh yes, the one who never brushed and always had good teeth.”

Our dentist also is very good at interpreting.

Once, at the hair salon a woman fell asleep under a hair dryer. Several stylists tried to wake her with no success. Someone was on the phone with 911 when the woman finally woke.

Not long ago, I was in rush hour traffic when a back-up began. Cars were swerving around a stalled vehicle. I swerved too, looked into the stopped car and saw the driver with his head back and his eyes closed. Another driver threw his car into park, jumped out, knocked on the car window and the man woke with a start.

Maybe sitting down for more than five minutes is so rare that our eyelids automatically slam shut these days and we start to snooze.

Dentists probably aren’t even aware of whether patients have their eyes open or closed, or if they have one eye open and one eye closed. All that really matters is that dentists keep their eyes open. And get a good night’s sleep before using that drill.

Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.