Dentists A Personal Story

(even though I don’t usually write poems on Saturday Gary sent me a very good story about his dentists last night. It’s been a while since I wrote a dental poem.)


Milton Turkoff was my first dentist.  He

was my father’s friend.  My father said Milton

had hands like fists.

Alan Gordon  dentist number two.  His wife

was his hygienist.  She left him for a man

who might have been in The Mob and some

people said she became a Go Go Dancer.

Then Alan married my Cousin Margie.

Dentist three insisted we all call him Henry.

He had a good sense of humor.

One day he abruptly moved to San Francisco.

Dentist four was on Central Park West.

Several people referred to him as

a Shoemaker, which wasn’t a good word

for a dentist.

Dentist five was Pamela.  She had the

Best Back Story of any dentist.  Fascinating

novelistic bi-racial dysfunction.  We became

good friends and then she married a patient

and had a baby and her life changed for the

better and for the worse..

Dentist six was Martin Rabinowitz. One day

in his chair he was a mega talkative dentist

so I loved going there in spite of my

tooth problems he told me something one day

about a famous person’s mouth and said Never Tell This To Anyone.

I couldn’t wait to come home and tell Peter.

Martin moved back to Pennsylvania.

These days I go to Cynthia Gomez.  We became friends.

I’ve even written a few Cynthia Gomez Dental Poems.

She travels to Cambodia India

Guatemala helping poor people with their teeth.

Yesterday she emailed How Do I Help People Now?





Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.


  1. Lordy! a poem about dentists! Terror has erased my own recall history of dentists’ names. I barely recall my current (female) one, who has two (female) dentists working as hygienists–until they get licensed to practice dentistry in US.

    They enjoy that I wear my lucky necklace–with tiny teeth & dental instruments hanging from it–to appointments. Seven years ago when I first went to her, she asked why I didn’t have implants on one side. I told her the horror of a highly credentialed Chicago oral surgeon pulling a tooth & about to bone graft but accidentally piercing my sinus, then stomping his foot saying, angrily, “I’m aborting this procedure” and stalking out of the room, leaving me with a disturbed assistant with devices still in my mouth.
    I’d hidden that attempt at implants from my then-elderly retired surgeon dad, because he didn’t think dentists should be doing that kind of surgery.
    This new dentist said, “I agree with your dad, which is why I’m sending you to an MD who is also a dentist! (Why, would an MD become a dentist? I still wonder) It was a successful procedure.
    Before AIDS made dentists start wearing gloves I recall dad once saying “I can’t imagine why anyone would be a dentist—having your hands in people’s mouths all day. Disgusting!” I was a teenager then & it did occur to me that my dad did rectal surgery. But I already sympathized with his abhorrence of dentists. I had already passed out in my childhood dentist’s office–I won’t detail that jerk.
    I can’t put my oral trauma history into poetry. I experience wonder that this poem seems to reflect ENJOYMENT of dentists!

  2. I had a dentist who lived on the same floor as my parent’s apartment in Ramat Aviv. I suppose they put me in contact with him. One day when he knew I was a captive audience in his dentist’s chair, there was an Elvis Presley song in the background. Somehow I managed to garble with one of those draining mechanisms in my mouth that “Heartbreak Hotel” was the first record I ever bought.

    “It figures” he said. I’m still not sure what he meant.

    Later he left his wife for another woman, and moved back to the States.

  3. My childhood dentist was Dave G who lived down the block. He hardly ever said a word. I grew up thinking dentists don’t talk. He left his nice nurse wife and married an overly make-upped, overly teased hair, hard-looking broad who became his receptionist. I didn’t like going there. My college DDS was Dr. Payne, no shit.

  4. Loved this poem. Would like to forget most of my dental encounters but really liked my dentist Kenny. We used to gossip about old friends and acquaintances. One day, in his office, my cousin came to see him. She was terrified about dentists. I was still there. Another patient was late arriving. Kenny said, “Mr. Jones why are you always late? Mrs. Smith here lives all the way in Montville, New Jersey and she’s always on time.” Kenny’s office was on the Upper East Side. Mr. Jones, replied, looking directly at my cousin, “why would anyone want to live in Montville, N.J.” Without missing a beat my cousin Lily said, “I’m in the witness protection program.” That is one of my favorite dentist stories. Thank you for posting your poem. Carol

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