My Creepy Dentist Sexually Harassed Me In The Middle Of A Procedure

I never expected my dentist to say something like that to me.

Dentist sexually harassed patient during procedure ORION PRODUCTION | Shutterstock

He tilted me back so he could get a better view into my mouth. The bright overhead light beamed down into my eyes, bringing back memories of previous surgeries. He put some sort of appliance into my mouth, and I felt pressure. That must’ve been the first incision, I thought. I started to shake. I’d dreaded this oral surgery for a few years now, but it was time now if I wanted to save my molars. I tried to breathe deeply.


Out of nowhere, my dentist says, "I’m going to pinch your butt,"  and chuckled. What?! This comment during my oral surgery was the weirdest "flirt" (a.k.a. sexual harassment) I’ve ever received in my life. If I didn’t have dental anxiety before, I sure do now. What on earth was he thinking? A month later, it still mystifies (and disgusts) me.

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What he said, at that particular moment, was unacceptable ethically and professionally. Yet, I know it won’t be the last time a man tells me he wants to pinch my butt. It certainly isn’t the first. Is it evolution? Or environment?


According to one Evolutionary Psychology study, men may (yes, most men, regardless of age, attractiveness, or attention women give them) read female politeness as interest. They over-perceive interest, while women under-perceive interest. This all goes back to men needing to procreate to survive and women realizing that procreation begets pregnancy and child-rearing without much help. Women often, even today, have only themselves to rely on when it comes to raising their children.

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In other words, the stakes are higher for women when they decide to indiscriminately roll in the hay. Or, conversely, social theory may come into play here more than evolutionary psychology. Males, due to their upbringing in our society, may think they’re supposed to act like, well, hot stuff because it's "manly." My doctor is a renowned periodontist. Statistics bear out that, until recently perio-dontistry, was a male-dominated field (considering the pain they inflict, I can understand why). Of course, there’s always a third explanation — Is my periodontist a creep?


"I think she liked it," my dentist said to his female assistant. "No, she didn’t!" shouted his assistant, and slapped his hand. (I don’t think this was the first time he's made such an advance.) "No, I didn’t!" I shouted, but I wasn’t sure he could understand me. I hoped if I ignored him he’d forget about it and move on. Plus my gums were already swelling and it was difficult to say much of anything. But the next time I saw him, he told me about a movie he’d seen, twice. And surprise, surprise ...  it was a racy one. (I hadn’t seen it, nor did I want to.) 

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I hesitated to tell him he was a dirty old man because I felt vulnerable there in that dentist's chair. Yet, on the next (and final!) dental visit, I will stand up out of that reclining dental chair in my full womanhood and tell him that I find him unattractive and that even if I did find him attractive, I’m married. AND that even if I wasn’t married, he could be sued for misconduct. If more women become periodontists, this "typical" male behavior should change. If more female dental workers slap their male bosses' wrists, it may improve. Until then, we’ll just have to become the empowered females who tell men like this that they’re out of line. Call it nature. Call it nurture. One thing’s for sure: I’m looking for another perio-dentist for my next gum transplant. 

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Kathryn Ramsperger is an Intuitive Life Coach and an author and has written for National Geographic and Kiplinger before working as a humanitarian journalist in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.