I’m not a lover of dentists. Though I have one I do love now in LA, Dr. James Formaker, I’m still feeling repercussions from a butcher in Beverly Hills who not only put me through two unnecessary surgeries, one of which he didn’t even have conscience enough to check to see if the surgeon had preformed the correct one of – which he hadn’t – and all of which cost me over $25,000 and an even more severe price of walking around with a sore mouth for the last four years. His name is happily provided upon inquiry. But I had  a tooth adventure during my trip to Detroit a few weeks ago that completely restored my faith in these people who dutifully drill in your mouth in search of decay.

I had just finished giving my speech on the rejuvenation of Detroit at the Rust Belt to Arts Belt III conference. We were at the reception and as I chomped down on the softest of Vietnamese spring rolls I felt something lift up in my mouth.

No, this couldn’t be happening! I was in the midst of this intense trip, filming it is a documentary, doing a ton of press, with one more big performance to go. The last thing I needed, especially after hours, was trying to find a dentist in a town where I knew none.

First, Michael Poris, called someone he knew.

But that dentist sounded too too scary on the phone.

He was exceedingly pessimistic that most likely nothing could be done despite the fact that I felt all I needed was a little glue.

Then, as if the Tooth Fairy was looking down on me, someone I met only minutes before overheard the ruckus and called her dentist.

The difference of talking to Dr. Doom and the bright and sparkly personality of the woman on the end of Kathy Huber’s phone was night and day. So me and my entourage, Mark Blackwell, Laura Grover and Denise Caruso, piled into our rented van and followed this angel of mercy to Grosse Pointe Woods…

…where Dr. Kathleen Gibney met us with her two kids and dog in tow. First of all, how great is a dentist who’s already home cooking dinner who comes in after hours for someone who they don’t even know?? This woman deserves sainthood.

Dr. Gibney not only let everyone stay in the room with me, which went miles in terms of quieting my panic down,…

…but also let us document every single inch of the procedure.

She didn’t care how close the camera came.

I’m fine in almost any traumatic situation as long as a video is rolling…

…and as long as friends are along to act as dental hygienists and stick their hands in my mouth when assistance is needed.

There wasn’t an inch of pain and Dr. Gibney preformed flawlessly.

Besides Dr. Gibney’s lively, atypical-for-a-dentist personality and excellent skills, this was the dentist office of my dreams. The colors were bright and the dental chairs were comfortable, actually a perfect match for my outfit.

The last place I’d expect to find kitsch exuberantly displayed is in a dentist office. But here it was, Photoshoped photos of stars with toothbrushes…

and bottles of mouthwash.

There were oodles of excellent dentally-correct album covers, like Lou Rawls with dental floss,…

…and these folks with toothbrushes and toothpaste:

I especially liked this title spelled out in dental floss:

There were LP covers everywhere you looked.

Even the light fixtures called my name.

As fate would have it, I had 25 pounds of candy in the back of the van that I bought for my big high school marching event coming up on Saturday. I know that a dentist’s kids are the last people in the world I should be offering an opening up of the portals of chocolate to but it seemed like the perfect capper to a most unexpected evening of fun.

So rather than being in tooth trauma, I was in absolute heaven. I’ve never had such a great time at a dentist office in my life.

Thank you Kathy Huber and Jeremy Martin, pictured here at my big event Saturday morning, for leading me and my molar to salvation that fateful night.

If anyone reading this is from Detroit or surrounding areas and you’re not completely and ecstatically in love with your dentist, I don’t care how far it is to drive, a trip to Dr. Gibney’s is just what Dr. Willis orders. I even think I’ll get my teeth cleaned in Detroit just to see her again.

10 Responses to “Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 15, The Miracle Dentist Story”

  1. Karen

    Ohhh Allee, I heart you and your prose. One day I will come out to visit Mark(and a few other displacements from S.C.) and we will hopefully meet. One more thing off my bucket list.Glad your \toothes\ are okay now.

  2. Jean Marie

    Allee, you are a divining rod of the groovy and hip! I LOVE this story!!!

  3. Michelle

    AMAZING! Allee..as someone who only has 9 adult teeth, I completely empathize. I’m so so happy you shared this, there ARE good dentists out there! love it. Glad you made it through : ) xo

  4. Denise

    It was all kind of surreal at the time, but now that I look back on it — it’s even MORE surreal. And the most fun I’ve ever had at a dentist, too!

  5. Sally

    Good LORD, Allee! With all this going on in Detroit, and you have a ‘dental emergency?’ No, no, this CAN’T be happening. I have absolutely NO LOVE for dentists either. I am, what they call, ‘traumatized.’ You betcha, kiddo! Get that dental instrument away from me! I kept asking my Mom, after I was all grown up and an adult, if that ‘child’s dentist’ was REALLY a dentist….? Like, did you see diplomas, etc., on the walls??? I now have a dentist I like, and trust, and at least can sit in the chair for. But I’m thinkin’ that, either Dr. Gibney, of Detroit, needs to move out here to CA, or I need to move back to Detroit. She sounds like the COOLEST dentist I’ve ever heard of. Check out the OFFICE; lots of ‘eclectic colors,’ on the walls and in the furniture. And look at those album covers……..! What??? Holy COW! I thought I was the only one with framed album covers on the walls. And here she is, with the BEST ‘dentally altered’ album covers I’ve ever seen…… I mean, seriously…… If she and the family and the DOG (she has a DOG, also, it just keeps gettin’ cooler….) want to move out here to the ‘west side,’ I’d seriously consider driving to where she is….. A very cool person, and then she ends up being a dentist…… well, wonders never cease……. Glad your tooth is happier and that you found this ‘angel of dental mercy…….’ Have a good one Allee! Hugs! .spina

  6. Michael F

    OK, now I want to visit Detroit! Dental vacation! What a great and lucky find- so glad it all worked out for you 😉

  7. Childstari

    I’m with Sally! I used to tell my mother that the dentist she brought me to when I was a child kept showing her the same x-rays over and over just to make money. My whole life I called him the money grubber dentist. I also became dental-phobic because of it.
    Haven’t been to the dentist in years and now that Allee’s posted this I know that I must go! So the question is:
    Does Dr. Gibney have a relative in the NY area or do I need to fly to Detroit and spend the week following the “Willis Definitive Detroit Tour” ??

  8. Fluff

    WOW what a perfect dentist!!! Those album covers are to die for! Kindred spirits uniting in crisis. Awesome story and now I have new favorite photos of you. There is just something so cute about you in the chair pointing to your mouth.I would love to and need to find a dental saint (complete with golden retriever) like this! But first I must procure a dental plan.

    You know what a do it yourself girl I am, this has extended to home dentistry. While I’m terribly proud of what I can do with cake decorating colors and friendly plastic, making my own crowns is probably not something I should tell a lot of people about.