Today is dentist day. As I have not been well for some time, I am fortunate to have my oldest daughter to drive me there and help me walk. Being a dental hygienist has to be one of the worst jobs. For some reason I always brush my teeth before going for a checkup there. It just seems like the right thing to do. It’s kind of like wearing socks when you know you’re going to be trying on shoes. I don’t think most people do brush first. So the poor hygienist has to deal with bad breath, food caught in the teeth, and whatever cold or flu the person happens to have. Next they take x-rays and you wonder how much radiation you are currently absorbing. Then they start probing around your mouth with pointy things. It feels like you’re in the military and someone is inspecting the job you did making your bed. You just hope they find nothing wrong. You hear a lot of “Hmm” and “M-Hm” as she works. Then she takes the torture instruments out and asks “How’s the flossing going?” What kind of question is that? That’s like asking someone “Been in trouble with the law lately?” when you’re bailing them out of jail. She knows the answer. She just wants to hear you say, “No, I haven’t been flossing unless something gets stuck in my teeth.” Then the lecture starts and you just nod along while they set to work on your mouth. (Don’t even mention that you drink diet pop. That will just start a whole new speech. “Blah – blah – blah – enamel. Blah – blah –blah decay…” and so on.) As they work they take this sharp pointy thing and start scraping your teeth like they have something personal against you. I swear, to be a dental hygienist you have to be a bit of a sadist. They seem to enjoy inflicting pain. If you’re lucky they won’t start a conversation with you during this time. Otherwise you have your mouth wide open and you’re trying to speak without moving your lips. That’s not an easy task. It seems I get a different person every time because she is always amazed that I still have all my teeth. It never occurred to me that many people need to have teeth removed because of space issues in the mouth. Then she will invariably have to tell the hygienist in the next booth over who will then have to look. So I have all my teeth? What’s the big deal? After scraping plaque for a while she starts stabbing my gums and calling out numbers. The process has something to do with your gums separating from the teeth. She rinses the area a lot so I have to believe it bleeds more than a little. Then she tries flossing. This is the time she wishes I didn’t have so many teeth. She pulls the floss back and forth like a saw to get it between them and spends more time trying to get at the back ones than all the other teeth combined. Now this person has likely done this for a while and they know if there is good news or bad news but they aren’t allowed to tell you. She’ll just keep saying, “The doctor will be here in just a few minutes to check you.” So you sit in terror and wait for the doctor. When he finally arrives he looks you over for about 30 seconds and says something like, “We need to keep an eye on number 5 and 7.” That doesn’t sound good but it doesn’t sound like imminent danger. After a long talk about flossing he says everything is fine and he’ll see me in 6 months. Talk about drama. Now I have to go brush my teeth and get ready for my appointment. Let’s hope it goes this well.
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