Commentary by Bill Buchanan
A recent study showed that the use of negative images increases retention for subjects learning new information. The study concluded that when those who gave a correct answer to a question were reinforced by viewing a photo of something unpleasant, their recall increased dramatically. Among the images used were a pointed gun, a dead cat, and a dental exam.
Well, I don’t know about the dead cat or the pointed gun, but the photo of the dental exam would certainly get my attention in a hurry. In fact, if you told me that memorizing something would allow me to skip my next dental exam, I would gladly recite the Declaration of Independence backward in Chinese. It pains me to admit how much of a major league baby I am when it comes to going to the dentist. Yes, I go regularly, but I hate every minute of it. I have outgrown a lot of things, including my favorite suit and my belief in the Easter bunny. But I have never outgrown my sincere dread of a trip to the dentist.
When I was a child, I cried all the way to the dentist’s office. Once there, I screamed the entire time I was in the chair —- even before the shots or drilling started. After many years I have now reached a point where I only scream internally. This is what passes for dental progress for me.
Now I am not crazy about going to any physician and do not know anyone outside of my late Aunt Susie who ever relished going to the doctor, period. In her case, I think Aunt Susie just enjoyed getting out of the house and was grateful for any conversation with someone other than her husband. If you had known my uncle, you could certainly understand why. My Uncle Claud (no “e” on the end) was an exceptionally joyless man who seemed to receive little pleasure out of anything in this life. He was a Baptist minister whose sermons were crammed so full of fire and brimstone they left little room for anything as frivolous as a passing reference about Christian concern or God’s love.
But given the choice between undergoing a dental exam versus enduring one of Uncle Claud’s sermons, I would take the sound of hellfire and damnation over high-speed drills every time.
My current dentist is a very competent and caring man. He is service-oriented. His staff is well-trained, friendly and professional. His office is lovely and has obviously been assembled to project a soothing atmosphere for the patient.
All of this has zero effect on me. I would still rather face a firing squad than have my teeth cleaned. My tombstone will likely read, “At least I’m not at the dentist.”
On a much brighter note, when I came into town late Monday night, I saw that chairs were already out on the street in anticipation of the city’s upcoming Fourth of July celebration. I am cranked about the parade.
I wish everyone who reads this a very Happy Fourth of July —- even those who are dentists.