The Quote Garden

 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998

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Quotations:  Dentists,
Teeth, Dental Work, etc.

Welcome to my page of quotations about dental work, dentists, teeth, toothaches, and the like. I do quite love my own dentist and hygienist so am sorry to say that these are not all positive quotes about the profession which keeps us smiling, but there's not much poetry in the drill. Well, except one quote below in which there actually is — from Mrs. Miniver, and it's my favorite dental literary harvest thus far. An author who thinks to associate John Donne with dental work has an interesting mind indeed. So floss, smile, and enjoy the quotes! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g

      "I think," said the dentist, stepping outside again, "I'd better give you gas." Then he moved aside and hummed an air from a light opera, while he mixed up cement.
      I sat up in my shroud. "Gas!" I said. "Yes," he repeated, "gas or else ether or a sulphuric anæsthetic or else beat you into insensibility with a club or give you three thousand volts of electricity."
      These may not have been his exact words. But they convey the feeling of them very nicely. ~Stephen Leacock, "Familiar Incidents — The Dentist and the Gas," Behind the Beyond, 1919

Hot things, sharp things, sweet things, cold things
All rot the teeth, and make them look like old things.
~Benjamin Franklin, 1734

A dentist at work in his vocation always looks down in the mouth. ~George D. Prentice

...for I never in all my Life have had a Tooth drawn, or dropt out, or rotted by the Worm, or loosen'd by Rheum. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605, translated from the Spanish by several hands

Why, you have in this nether Jaw on this Side but two Grinders and a Stump; and in that Part of your upper Jaw, never a Stump, and never a Grinder; alas all's levell'd there, as smooth as the Palm of one's Hand. Oh unfortunate Don Quixote, cry'd the Knight! I had rather have lost an Arm, so it were not my Sword-Arm; for a Mouth without Cheek-Teeth, is like a Mill without a Millstone, Sancho; and every Tooth in a Man's Head is more valuable than a Diamond. ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605, translated from the Spanish by several hands

No, my friend, I am not drunk. It is that I have been to the dentist and I need not go again for six months. It is a beautiful thought. ~Agatha Christie, The Patriotic Murders (Hercule Poirot)

      Then they began pumping in gas. The sensation of this part of it I cannot, unfortunately, recall. It happened that just as they began to administer the gas, I fell asleep. I don't quite know why. Perhaps I was overtired. Perhaps it was the simple home charm of the surroundings, the soft drowsy hum of the gas pump, the twittering of the dentists in the trees — did I say in the trees? — No, of course they weren't in the trees — imagine dentists in the trees — ha! ha! — here, take off this gas pipe from my face till I laugh — really I just want to laugh — only to laugh—
      Well, that's what it felt like. Meanwhile, they were operating. Of course, I didn't feel it. All I felt was that someone dealt me a powerful blow in the face with a sledge-hammer. After that somebody took a pick-axe and cracked in my jaw with it. That was all. It was a mere nothing. I felt at the time that a man who objects to a few taps on the face with a pick-axe is over critical. ~Stephen Leacock, "Familiar Incidents — The Dentist and the Gas," Behind the Beyond, 1919

Too many of today's children have straight teeth and crooked morals. ~Unidentified high school principal

The man with toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. ~Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)

DENTIST, n.  A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket. ~Ambrose Bierce

I find that most men would rather have their bellies opened for five hundred dollars than have a tooth pulled for five. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

I pray thee, peace. I will be flesh and blood;
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
~William Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing, c.1598  [V, 1, Leonato]

Human beings cannot be persuaded to regard themselves as mere natural phenomena. It is an alluring thought that the true, the beautiful and the good are merely embodiments of a single idea, but it is a thought which makes little appeal to a man with an ulcerated tooth. ~Gilbert Newton Lewis, The Anatomy of Science, 1926

One thing I like less than most things is sitting in a dentist chair with my mouth wide open,
And that I will never have to do it again is a hope that I am against hope hopen.
Because some tortures are physical and some are mental,
But the one that is both is dental...
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "This Is Going to Hurt Just a Little Bit"

My dentist's business card says, "teeth are the windows to the soul." ~Jimmy Fallon, @jimmyfallon, tweet, 2017

I went to the dentist because I'm having trouble with my bite. I still want to. ~Robert Orben, 2400 Jokes to Brighten Your Speeches, 1984

Even pearls are dark before the whiteness of his teeth! ~Neẓāmī (c.1141–1209), "Charity's Eye," translated by William Rounseville Alger, The Poetry of the Orient, 1865

If a patient cannot clean his teeth, no dentist can do it for him. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

An aching tooth is better out than in,
To lose a rotting member is a gain.
~Richard Baxter

THE  HAPPIEST  TIME in anyone's life is the 1st 15 minutes after they've just had a big aching jaw tooth jerked out. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague

My health plan doesn't cover dental, so I enrolled my teeth as 32 dependents, each needing a complete physical once a year. ~Robert Brault,

A man loses his illusions first, his teeth second, and his follies last. ~Helen Rowland

There are... two things in life that a sage must preserve at every sacrifice, the coats of his stomach and the enamel of his teeth. Some evils admit of consolations: there are no comforters for dyspepsia and toothache. ~Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, Kenelm Chillingly: His Adventures and Opinions, 1873

Adam and Eve had many advantages, but the principal one was, that they escaped teething. ~Mark Twain

The tongue rolles there where the teeth aketh. ~Proverb

The Tongue is ever turning to the aching Tooth. ~Proverb

Music helps not the tooth-ache. ~Proverb

Some old women and men grow bitter with age. The more their teeth drop out the more biting they get. ~George D. Prentice

Now my weary heart is breaking, for my left hand tooth is aching, with a harsh, persistent rumble that is keeping folks awake; hollowed out by long erosion, it, with spasm and explosion, seems resolved to show the public how a dog-gone tooth can ache. Now it's quivering or quaking; now it's going fancy aching, then it shoots some Roman candles which go whizzing through my brain; now it does some lofty tumbling, then again it's merely grumbling; and anon it's showing samples of spring novelties in pain. All the time my woe increases; I have kicked a chair to pieces, but it didn't seem to soothe me or to bring my soul relief; I have stormed around the shanty till my wife and maiden auntie said they'd pull their freight and leave me full enjoyment of my grief. I have made myself so pleasant that I'm quarantined at present, and the neighbors say they'll shoot me if I venture from my door; now a voice cries: "If thou'd wentest in the first place, to a dentist—" it is strange that inspiration never came to me before! ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Toothache"

Hygienist, in your dental chair
I sit without a single care...
You merely make my molars clean
With pumice doped with wintergreen.
So I lean back in calm reflection,
With close-up views of your complexion,
And taste the flavor of your thumbs
While you massage my flabby gums...
~Earnest A. Hooton, "Ode to a Dental Hygienist," 1942

His eyes were glittering with what the Germans call Blutlust. All dentists have it. ~Stephen Leacock, "Familiar Incidents — The Dentist and the Gas," Behind the Beyond, 1919

Fang-faker. — A dentist. ~Slang and its Analogues: A Dictionary of Heterodox Speech, John S. Farmer and W. E. Henley, 1890s

...with the least sleazy of intentions, some very good people have taken Helene Hanff's popular epistolary memoir, "84 Charing Cross Road," which records the New York writer's 20-year correspondence with a London bookshop, and made a movie guaranteed to put all teeth on edge, including George Washington's, wherever they might be. ~Vincent Canby, film review, The New York Times, 1987

He must have seen me looking at his mouth, for he explained, 'I had very good dentures once. Some magnificent gold work. It's the only form of jewelry a man can wear that women fully appreciate. Dear things, they like to put their lips on gold.' ~Graham Greene, Travels With My Aunt

A woman's crowning glory may be her hair, but there are not a few girls with crowned teeth, too. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1908, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Ye, who e'er lost a tooth — O tell the smart. ~Mr. Pratt, to Mr. Sigmond, a celebrated Dentist, at Bath, on drawing one of the Author's Teeth, The Monthly Magazine, 1803

Men often think submission indicates weakness, that letting someone else take charge betrays a character deficit. But we all submit to strangers who drill into our teeth as long as we can see the parchment on their wall which reads "Dentist." ~Edmond Manning, King Perry, 2012

Smile — sunshine is good for your teeth. ~Ludlow Porch, 1981

Better tooth out than always ache. ~Proverb

A  SECRET is like an aching tooth — keeps you uneasy till it's out. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague

The price of healthy gums is eternal vigilance. ~Two and a Half Men, 2004, teleplay by Mark Roberts and Eddie Gorodetsky, season 2, episode 6, Alan Harper  #flossing

      "Quite comfortable?" asked Mr. Hinchley when he had played his usual little overture upon the various pedals and handles of his adjustable chair.
      "Quite, thank you," said Mrs. Miniver. Horribly, she felt inclined to add. For really it was the refinement of civilized cruelty, this spick, span, and ingenious affair of shining leather and gleaming steel, which hoisted you and tilted you and fitted reassuringly into the small of your back and cupped your head tenderly between padded cushions. It ensured for you a more complete muscular relaxation than any armchair that you could buy for your own home: but it left your tormented nerves without even the solace of a counter-irritant. In the old days the victim's attention had at least been distracted by an ache in the back, a crick in the neck, pins and needles in the legs, and the uneasy tickling of plush under the palm. But now, too efficiently suspended between heaven and earth, you were at liberty to concentrate on hell.
      ~Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver, 1930s

      "A lit-tle wi-der," said Mr. Hinchley indulgently, dividing the words into separate syllables as though he were teaching a very small child to read.... Mrs. Miniver obeyed meekly and resigned herself to the exquisite discomfort of the electric drill. It was a pity, she felt, that this instrument had been invented during a period when scientific images in poetry were out of favour. To the moderns, who had been brought up with it, it was presumably vieux jeu. They took it for granted; it did not fire their imagination like the pylons and the power-houses which were now the fashionable emotive symbols. But oh, what Donne could have made of it, if it had been invented in his time! With what delight he would have seized upon it, with what harsh jostling and grinding of consonants he would have worked out metaphor after metaphor, comparing its action to that of all the worst tormentors of the heart: to jealousy, to remorse, to the sharp gnawing of a bad conscience and the squalid nagging of debt....
      Oh! page John Donne.... Run, buttoned cherubim, through the palm lounges and gilt corridors of heaven.... And tell him that there are at least two poems waiting to be written in Mr. Hinchley's surgery. Miss Bligh will hand him a pen.
      ~Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver, 1930s

      Mrs. Miniver kept her eyes focused as long as possible upon the far distance, hoping that they would take her other senses with them. But they didn't. The drill was too insistent. So presently she brought them back and cast a reproachful spaniel-glance upwards at Mr. Hinchley, which he was too much absorbed to see. She devoted the next few minutes to making a slow, dispassionate study of his left eyebrow, which was a good enough shape as eyebrows go; and then decided that nothing but a deep romantic love could make the human face tolerable at such close quarters.
      The far and the near having both failed her, she explored the middle distance: the embossed plaster patterns on the ceiling; the round, white lamp—an albino moon—which hung between her and the window; the X-ray machine; the sterilizer; the glass bowl on her left with the tumbler of pink mouth-wash beside it; and on her right the large composite fitment, so absurdly like a porcelain snowman, out of which burgeoned, among other things, this insufferable, this inescapable, this altogether abominable drill.
      ~Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver, 1930s

Miss Bligh, as though by prestidigitation, suddenly held a syringe between her scarlet finger-tips.... The prick of the injection was sharp, but its effect was magical. In an instant the left-hand side of her face ceased to belong to her. She put up one finger and stroked her cheek curiously. It was like stroking somebody else's; and therefore it was, tactually, like seeing herself clearly for the first time. Not in a mirror, where the eyes must always bear the double burden of looking and being looked into; but from outside, through a window, catching herself in profile and unawares. ~Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver, 1930s

The teeth form a barrier to check wanton words. ~Aulus Gellius

My curse upon thy venom'd stang,
That shoots my tortur'd gums alang;
And thro' my lugs gies mony a twang,
      Wi' gnawing vengeance;
Tearing my nerves wi' bitter pang,
      Like racking engines!
~Robert Burns, "Address to the Tooth-ache," 1789

The dentist was there with two assistants. All three had white coats on, as rigid as naval uniforms. I forget whether they carried revolvers. Nothing could exceed their quiet courage. Let me pay them that tribute. ~Stephen Leacock, "Familiar Incidents — The Dentist and the Gas," Behind the Beyond, 1919

But thee — thou hell o' a' diseases... ~Robert Burns, "Address to the Tooth-ache," 1789

Where'er that place be priests ca' hell,
Whence a' the tones o' mis'ry yell,
And ranked plagues their numbers tell,
      In dreadfu' raw,
Thou, Tooth-ache, surely bear'st the bell,
      Amang them a'!
~Robert Burns, "Address to the Tooth-ache," 1789

Nowadays a million-dollar smile could mean inlays. ~Robert Orben, 2400 Jokes to Brighten Your Speeches, 1984

And you totter to your feet and think, Well it's all over now and after all it was only this once,
And he says come back in three monce.
And this, O Fate, is I think the most vicious circle that thou ever sentest,
That Man has to go continually to the dentist to keep his teeth in good condition when the chief reason he wants his teeth in good condition is so that he won't have to go to the dentist.
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "This Is Going to Hurt Just a Little Bit"

You can't escape history, or the needs and neuroses you've picked up like layers and layers of tartar on your teeth. ~Charles Johnson, Faith and the Good Thing, 1974

All their teeth are yellow. No tooth-brush ever entered that convent. Brushing one's teeth is at the top of a ladder at whose bottom is the loss of one's soul. ~Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 1862, translated by Isabel F. Hapgood, 1887

Nine out of ten dentists agree the tenth one should really chill out. ~Colin Mochrie, in Whose Line Is It Anyway?, episode no. 108, 1998

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published 2004 Sep 20
revised Jul 2014, Jul 2021
last saved 2024 Apr 15