It’s an ordinary office on an ordinary street in a dignified brick office building. On the door is a brass plaque with a name on it and the word “Dentist.” Inside is a regular dentist’s waiting room with leather chairs, outdated magazines, and a sign-in pad on the ledge of the receptionist’s desk. Nothing unusual here, except maybe the nicer than normal Oriental rug that covers the hardwood floor.
Setting in the office waiting to be called, the patient has no clue that behind the inner door is not an ordinary dental office at all, but something else. Once you walk through the door to the inner office, you are in a different dimension. You have entered the office of the Humor Dentist.
Things seem exactly the same at first. Ordinary gray walls, a long hall. The dental assistant shows you to the chair and puts the dreaded napkin around your neck. You know what comes next, 30 minutes of torture, needles the size of jackhammers and drills remarkably similar to those used by construction workers.
You are an adult, but your mind races backward to every bad experience you have ever had with dentistry. You become a child again, reliving pain from years before, shrinking in size until you are almost too small for the dental chair and feel as if you need a booster seat. Modern dentistry is nothing like that of the tortured past, you think in your rational mind. Newer techniques and recognition of patient’s apprehension have come a long way. But the irrational fears remain, making you tense, though you try to remain calm and not to entertain the thoughts in your mind.
Is there a person in the world that enjoys going to the dentist, you wonder? Probably more dental appointments are “forgotten” than for any other profession. People put things they dread in the back of their consciousness. We “forget” so we don’t have to face our fears.
But this is no ordinary dental office, remember; this is the office of the Humor Dentist. Does he sedate patients with laughing gas to relax them, you wonder? Does he wear a red nose and juggle balls? Now that’s a thought, although juggling dental picks, mirrors, and drill bits does not seem like a very good idea.
Then the dental assistant leans your dental chair backwards and you look up at the ceiling. You stare at it in disbelief. Painted on the ceiling in children’s art is a picture of a large smiling clown complete with a big red nose. You smile in spite of yourself. And next to it is another clown in full clown attire, painted by yet a different child.
As you sneak a peak out the door into the hall, you see more ceiling clowns that you didn’t notice before, happy clowns with big smiling faces, balloons and flowers adorning them. This is definitely a doctor with a sense of humor.
By the time the dentist comes in with his green medical attire, you are burning with curiosity. He is used to the questions and explains that a teacher let her students paint them and then ordinary ceiling tiles were replaced with clown tiles. He is not a children’s dentist. These clowns are there for adults.
It is hard to be afraid with the brave, brightly-colored clowns smiling down at you. You feel the past slip away as you grow larger, back to adult size. There are clowns on the ceiling of every examination room, something cheerful to look at and focus on while he is working, instead of just an ordinary white ceiling.
He is a professional and everything is ordinary – except the clowns, whose smiles give away the secret behind the doctor’s professional demeanor. You are in the office of the Humor Dentist.