Posted by: christinelaennec | January 28, 2015

Knitting at the dentist’s

One of my recent challenges has been having some dental work done.  Now, as you can see from any photo of me smiling widely, I have strange teeth.

Big smile!

Big smile!

I was born without any lateral incisors, a huge gap between my front teeth, extra cartilege, etc., and had to have quite a bit of work done as a child, including surgery and braces.  In fact, my teeth have on at least two occasions caused me to be recognised.  Once was at a reception, where a man came up to me and said, “You had a blah-de-blah-de-blah-plasty done at the Oregon Dental School didn’t you?  I recognise your mouth!”  The operation (when I was 12) was filmed and showed to dental students.  Fame at last!

Another instance was when I was staying in hostel in France as a teenager.  A young woman came up to me, with a letter:  “Are you Christine?” “Yes, how did you know?” “They told me to look for the girl with gaps in her teeth.”

My funny-looking teeth have never really bothered me, for some reason.  There are worse things to be saddled with than gaps.  But the less noticeable thing I have inherited (my mother blames her French-Canadian ancestors for all this) is very soft teeth.  Unlike my mother, I do have enamel on my teeth, but despite being a dedicated brusher and flosser I think almost every tooth in my mouth has had to have some kind of filling.

So you would think I would be well used to the dentist’s chair and all that it entails.  However, recently I have had new dental adventures in the form of crowns, for molars that had been filled to within an inch of their lives.  I was fearing getting these crowns, but when one of the molars broke apart just before Christmas, the prospect of having them fixed became somewhat less horrifying than the prospect of them crumbling in my mouth.

And so I went in three times in three weeks: for a temporary fix, crowns Part 1, and crowns Part 2, on two molars.  And here is the best part.  My dentist had seen me knitting in the waiting room.  She’d told me (during the temporary fix) that her mother had been a knitter, and had kept all six of them equipped with Aran jumpers.  I was trying to uncurl my toes while she worked, humming my alto part for the blessing that we sing at church that goes “Courage in Every Endeavour”.  (Only afterwards did I think of “Crown Him, crown Him…”)  My dentist said, you should knit while you’re in the chair, if it would help at all.

And so I did, for the second two appointments (50 minutes and 25 minutes).  Nothing fancy – no Aran cables, nothing requiring counting or looking, just garter stitch.  But it was hugely, hugely helpful!

A garter stitch square made from Colourscape Chunky wool.  Part of a project to make a patchwork blanket.

A garter stitch square made from Colourscape Chunky wool. Part of a project to make a patchwork blanket.

During the third appointment, the dentist and the nurse said, “We’ve been telling everyone we have a patient who knits in the chair!”  I said, “I’ve been telling all my knitting friends that I have a dentist who lets me knit in the chair.”  My dentist said, “They should ask their dentist if they can knit, I don’t see why a dentist would refuse if it helps them.”

So there you go, if there are any fellow knitters who need dental work (I almost wrote “needle-work”!), a little tip for you.  You can refer your dentist to this post if it helps!



  1. lovely candid post you shared here – can identify with the toe curling bit (my mantra is to remember its a healing process not a torture) though could never knit as need to look at what I do as I go. Your stitches are so even that it shows what a therapeutic effect kitting is having. Bravo!

  2. Would they let me paint?! I dread the dentist.

  3. I suppose this only works if you can knit without looking! When I crocheted (I have a habit of picking up new hobbies, enjoying them for a while — even years — and then falling out of them), I had to watch myself very carefully!

  4. That’s quite amazing! What a kind dentist you have. And, by the way, I think you have a perfectly lovely smile!

  5. That’s absolutely brilliant. If only I could knit, my visits to the dentist might be less nerve wracking. I would have thought that the movement of your hands/arms might cause disruption to the dental work. I wonder if I could take my laptop to the dentist and do some typing.

  6. I am not sure that I would be able to concentrate on anything other than instruments in my mouth. Well done both of you.

  7. I could not knit at the dentist, i have to see what I’m doing and the goggles the dentist puts on me to protect my eyes would not allow me to see! I always sit and ‘visualise’ myself walking back out again, sometimes it helps to distract me lol. I’ve never noticed your teeth and teeth are very often what I do notice about people given my own large gap in my teeth!

  8. What a wonderful dentist! And for the record, I have never spotted anything remarkable about your teeth. I have one gap right in the middle at the top – it joins me in every smile! If I ever have to have lengthy dental work I’ll be sure to take my knitting after reading this! Thank you 🙂 Btw sorry to hear the Dafter is not as good as before – a timely reminder for me not to be complacent about my own daughter’s recovery – the D will be back in my prayers straight away xx

  9. Tomorrow I go to the dentist for a repair of yet another broken tooth (or an extraction). I don’t think I will take knitting, though, having tried and failed in my attempts to master the art many years ago. I feel for you with your tooth problems as I hate dental work. In older age teeth and feet seem to be the items that trouble many people from our era, but it sounds like your whole life has been full of tooth issues. The only “plus” from that could be that you must at least have become more used to the procedures – just seeing them as part of your ‘normal’ life.

  10. Very interesting – and I am having dental work done next week. Now I don’t dread it so much. XO

  11. No way could I knit at the dentist. He tilts the chair back so far I feel I’m standing on my head. It’s not very comfortable and I know I’d never be able to concentrate on my knitting.

  12. How skilled to be able to knit without looking at what you’re doing. I must say I’ve never noticed anything about your teeth, even after meeting you several times.
    I did once fall asleep in the dentist’s chair, during root canal work. It was a long procedure, I was comfortably numbed, and my dentist is a big, burly, rugby-player-type with a calm manner. My head was clamped against his chest and I could hear his heart beating. It just sent me off to sleep. The only thing was that he wakened me up once he noticed, to make sure I hadn’t passed out.

  13. I also have to go to the dentist next week . And I’m afraid I’m going to be thinking and giggling about your reference to “Crown Him with many crowns!” I’d love to try your knitting suggestion but I can’t knit without looking. Good luck with your dental challenge. In no time you will be looking in the mirror singing ; “All fangs bright and beautiful”!

  14. That’s great!! So sorry about the teeth troubles. How funny about being recognized by teeth!!! It seems I go to the dentist a lot, for myself, for cleanings for all the kids, and for two orthodontist patients in the family. 🙂 I have reoccurring dreams of all my teeth crumbling and falling out so I am very careful to brush and floss in order to prevent this in real life. 🙂

  15. You have a beautiful smile – radiant and lovely. Going to the dentist takes a lot of bravery and having something to do with your hands must hugely relieve the tension! I do love the colors you have chosen, even if you don’t look at them while you are knitting, the colors are calming. It is amazing the things they can do these days to restore the teeth. My husband has weak and soft teeth and has had most of them replaced with veneers! Personally, I have always found that those who had gaps in their teeth looked especially charming. Lauren Hutton would be an example. I’m glad that you made it through. I hate the Novocaine needles the most and can’t have ephedrine because it makes my heart race, so they have to use the old fashioned kind that needs reapplication frequently. That needle feels to be shoved right up into my sinus cavities! I especially love the little shake at the end…. Oh, I should not be talking about this – I’m sure it will all go smoothly for you and you will be smiling that beautiful smile once again with beautiful knitting to show for it! xo Karen

  16. What a great idea! xx

  17. Thanks everyone for your most interesting comments (and nice compliments). I hope everyone that has had to face the dentist recently has come through just fine, knitting or otherwise. Yes, this only works if you can knit without looking – although that is part of what is so distracting for me, I have to concentrate on what my fingers are doing. Also, mercifully, my dentist doesn’t tip me upside-down.

    Linda, it is absolutely astonishing to me that you could have fallen asleep during root canal work! That would never in a million years happen to me. In such situations my body is on High Alert. Good for you!

  18. I so agree with Karen about your smile. Best of luck with your dental adventures, I have so been there. And thank you for the following; it gave me a very good laugh: “I was trying to uncurl my toes while she worked, humming my alto part for the blessing that we sing at church that goes “Courage in Every Endeavour”. (Only afterwards did I think of “Crown Him, crown Him…”) ” Keep humming, knitting, and smiling Christine!

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