Smile Tips for All Parts of Life from a Mom, Wife, and Dentist

July 28, 2016

What's Missing from My Dentist Barbie? [The Answer Might Surprise You]

One of the first things I bought for myself after graduating from dental school was my very own Dentist Barbie. I played with the popular dolls throughout elementary school and I collected Business Barbie, Nigerian Barbie and Pool House Barbie just to name a few. So once I'd officially earned my Penn DMD, I searched eBay to place my bid for Dentist Barbie. 

Mattel had temporarily discontinued the doll about a decade before, but the model I found was still very modern. I was single at the time and going on many first dates. So, I knew how to quickly assess a good match and on first impression, it seemed like Dentist Barbie and I had a lot in common. She had great chairside manner and was excited about oral health. She also looked super qualified with her degree mounted on the wall of her operatory and of course her competence was measured by the lively smile of her young patient.
Barbie even had a couture lab coat, fitted perfectly to her humanly impossible anatomical measurements. I quickly ordered my own set of monogrammed lab coats. I was sure that Dentist Barbie and I would soon enough be best good friends.

However, soon after my lab coats arrived, a series of bad first and second dates followed and I was snatched out of my Barbie Fantasy and returned to my reality as a single professional woman. The months that followed gave me just enough time to practice my new craft and before I knew it Barbie and I had started to grow apart.

Several dates and a few years later, while my husband and I were packing to move to Germany, I found my once coveted Dentist Barbie stashed away in the back of my closet under boxes of high heels that I'd also never found opportunities to show off. She was still packaged and posed perfectly in the box in which she arrived, and I again admired her youth, beauty and the fact that she was unburdened by the many responsibilities carried out by most dentists and especially women dentists. However, while my early excitement about Dentist Barbie had faded, I still wasn't ready to relinquish the idea of this perfect career doll. So, I packed her up with the rest of my goods.

Then, one day as I was discussing my path into dental medicine at the request of one of my patients, I thought of my Dentist Barbie and how my passion to become a dentist was somehow tied to this perfect ideal. That night, when I got home from work, I scoured my closet and found her buried in between my old workout clothes and my dated but most trendy pairs of shoes. Wow---my Dentist Barbie still looked perfect in her box! She hadn't aged a day and surely she hadn't endured the trials of my previous year including pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

I embraced the moment to appreciate flawless Dentist Barbie once again but this time I was even further detached from the Barbie Fantasy and instead fully immersed in my new mommy reality. I was at a desperate time in my breastfeeding timeline when I'd actually gained 12 pounds just to keep up a minimal milk level for my son to indulge as he supplemented with solids. Sure, the early post pregnancy weight had melted away but the unanticipated and unannounced extra bulk felt like punishment for desperately trying to nurse for a whole year. 

Of course, I was just relieved to be making milk and on that note, I must share that it was my Medela Breast Pump that really was the little engine that could---that "one touch let down" feature was a huge benefit. I remember pumping in between patients at work, 3 to 4 times throughout the day as I read texts from my husband about our ever diminishing frozen milk stash and towards the bitter end of almost 13 months, pumping just to meet or son's need. 

Like becoming a Dentist, getting the opportunity to become a mother and to actually breastfeed was almost like a fantasy. My mother nursed me and my three sisters with ease after epidural free labors and advocated that like most things, it too would come naturally. She was super supportive but like walking, riding a bike and studying for my dental degree, I had to do it for and by myself. It wasn't easy, it challenged me to grow in more ways than one and it was even through a storm of fatigue and a barely existent milk supply that I still wanted to produce---just in case my son needed it. Admittedly, it was a bittersweet yet relieving time when my husband and I realized that at 13 months, table milk was what our child desired. This Mommy Dentist could hang up her breast pump.

As I watch my son grow through his toddler years, I still reflect fondly upon my trusty breast pump and from time to time, I check on it just like I do my Dentist Barbie. She may not have matched my own measurements or my reality as a dentist or a mother but she is there as a source of inspiration. It's nice to see her back on the market in a most modern and chic fashion. 


  1. Great story Dr. White!

    1. Thank you! It was fun reminiscing about my Barbie!

  2. Thank you for sharing this Dr. White

    1. Women wear so many hats and provide so much care for growing families inside and outside the home! Thank you for following us!

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  5. I picked out this toy for my 2.5 year because her first dental appointment is looming. Using this doll was an excellent way to introduce to her to the concept of going to the dentist and the different tools the dentist uses to clean your teeth.

  6. This set is amazing!! My daughter was very afraid to go to the dentist for the first time and since she is a huge Barbie fan I thought this would be great to get to show her what they would do.

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  11. Using this doll was an excellent way to introduce to her to the concept of going to the dentist and the different tools the dentist uses to clean your teeth. It has even made her more enthusiastic for brushing her teeth.

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