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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Wee Ode to a Dental Provider, or What? No Gas This Time?

I sometimes watch their eyes.

There’s so little else to look at.

Why is that?

I raise a hand, and she removes the plaque-picker – I believe that’s the technical term – from my teeth.

“A mobile would look nice up here on the ceiling, maybe something made out of extracted teeth and the fingernails you pry from the chair arms.”

She looks at me kindly, blinks a bit. 

“Too much?” I say.

“Mmm,” she says.  “Open, please.”

I open my mouth, go back to staring up, staring over, staring through the clear, still blue/green of her eyes.

She returns to scraping.

I have a small mouth and all of my teeth, one of whom has struck out on his own.  Lebensraum, I believe the ungrateful little wretch shouted as he left the line-up.

“But Adolph,” I said to Incisor P25, “what did I ever do to you to make you want to leave?”

Still, Adolph’s departure from the bottom row array has left me with a distinctive bite mark, one I regularly assure my friends I will leave all over the place should I be kidnapped or otherwise molested.

“Is Pearl drunk?” one whispers to another.  “She’s talking about biting stuff again.”

And so I found myself at the dentist the other day, getting P25 and all the other little buggers cleaned and polished, a bi-annual checking for the slow creep of gingivitis and other conditions with foreboding and expensive-sounding names.

The hygienist is a lovely woman.  Aside from the impressive eyes, she has been patient with my questions.

“Are tori fairly common?”  Yes.

“Is there an instance where plaque is actually a good thing?”  No

“When hygienists are in school, do they practice cleaning teeth on each other?”  Yes.

“Why,” I ask her at one point, “am I a little afraid of when you go at my teeth from the cheek side, but not from the tongue side?”

She doesn’t even have to think.  “Aggressive brushing,” she says.

I frown.  “Well maybe the little bastages had it comin’ to ‘em,” I say ominously. 

She laughs.  “You should get an electric toothbrush,” she says.  “It will keep you from brushing hard and it will help immensely with the plaque.”

“Really?”  I frown again.  “I’ve never had an electric toothbrush,” I say.

“Never?”

I laugh.  “I saw one in a store once.”

She laughs.

“I’ve been using tiny scrubby bits fallen from storm-damaged pine trees,” I say, “flossing with bits of thread I find hanging off my shirts.  Is that wrong?”

Dr. Doroschak enters the room as we are amusing ourselves.

“I hope you’ve been careful about what you say,” he says to her, smiling.  “You realize she’s a writer, don’t you?”

The dental hygienist looks at me suspiciously.  “Are you going to write about me?”

“I promise to only say nice things,” I say. 

She smiles.  "I appreciate it," she says.

37 comments:

Shelly said...

I try to limit my dental visits to once every 17 years or so. Still have all my teeth.

I think the knowledge that you are a writer is a good thing to hold over anyone's head. Kept them both honest, didn't it?

Pearl said...

Shelly, I once went 11 years without a dentist. :-) I'm oddly proud of that.

The best part of being a writer is taking notes. People behave differently when you take notes. :-)

vanilla said...

And you have honored your word. You said only nice things about the hygienist, but I think you don't like P25 all that much.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

My close friend Marjie is a dental hygienist, and she's very wise. Do you remember "Wise Marj" and her Mantra of Aging: "It'll only get worse."

Yeah.

I said she was wise. I didn't say she was fun.;)

Eva Gallant said...

Only you could bring humor to a dental appointment!

Eva Gallant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sioux said...

And I know you got to spend time with "Mr. Thirsty." He's my favorite part of the dental experience...

Pearl said...

vanilla, P25 can bite me. :-)

Dawn, I think I like Wise Marj. "It'll only get worse." I will try to work that into conversation today!

Eva, and I hardly cried at all. :-)

Sioux, Mr. Thirsty! I love that.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Scrape/slush/spit/repeat...I absolutely DETEST going to the dentist. Even you Pearl can not make the experience fun.

jabblog said...

I count the lights and imagine the expense of running the whole place - or else I shut my eyes and hope it will all soon be over. Why does the dentist count my teeth every time I see him? It's not as thought they're dropping out all over the place - yet.

Pearl said...

Delores, not my favorite place, but I must admit the experience has gotten easier with all the new technologies.

Jabblog, they count mine as well. It's a orthodontics thing, I think. :-) We probably wouldn't understand.

Geo. said...

The P-25 was an airplane built by Consolidated, a manufacturer in Buffalo, New York, in 1923. How'd get stuck in your teeth, Pearl?

sage said...

Great post even though my mouth closed tight and my hands began to ball into fist as I read about you in the dental chair. You mean your dentist don't have a picture of a dog with over-sized teeth grinning down at you from the ceiling?

I have an very attractive dentist, beautiful and petite and with hands the size of catcher mitts. I once wrote about her in my blog, in post about my visit to a dominatix (I still am not sure if that's the right spelling).

jenny_o said...

She's right about the electric toothbrush, Pearl. Takes a little while to get used to letting it do all the work, but then ... it makes brushing so easy. And easy on your teeth at the gumline. And here is what might be the clincher for you -- it's easier on your wrists, too.

in the coop said...

I had 8 teeth pulled when I was a kid and have wondered where pulled teeth go when their work is done. I found out this year when my daughter did a science experiment about tooth decay. As the dentist handed over the previously sanitized teeth, he said, "Teeth don't get pulled for no reason." Seeing them made me feel much better about the teeth I still have.
I'm sure the hygienist thoroughly enjoys your bi-annual visit, though she may be a bit less talkative next time.

Saimi said...

I went 3 years between visits once. when I finally went in they were surprise how little plaque I had. I'm a obsessive tooth picker and flosser any thing to limit my dentist experience - if I do in fact need work , it's the gas for me!!

Mr. Charleston said...

You are so right about something on the ceiling. Maybe a giant Kindle Nook so can read a magazine and flip the pages with a button on the chair. Ummm, let's see. What's to read?... Better Homes and Gardens, no; Sports Illustrated, maybe; Modern Orthodontist, heavens no; Playboy... that's more like it.

Lynn Proctor said...

yikes i could hardly get through this--but i do love my dentist and office :)

Jess said...

After taking a 10 year hiatus, I have recently gone back to the dental two times a year routine. I have to say, things have changed. The chair I sit in is a massage chair and they have freaking TV's for you to watch while you are getting your teeth cleaned. TV! WITH CABLE! Though, I chose to watch The Price is Right, cause there is nothing more fun than trying to scream out the right price to try and scare the dental hygienist.

Leenie said...

Yeah, aggressive brushing. My cheeky side got a little defensive. Got a good Oral-B power brush and Shazam! those irritated cheeky sides mellowed out. NOW I can't find another Oral-B sit-in-the-charger electric brush. Everything has gone battery and, as a result, wimpy. Progress-one step forward-two steps back.

May you and your ivories live to bite for many, many years.

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

I seem to get the dental hygienist that talk to you while they clean your teeth and ask you questions. But I'm like "I can't answer you. Your hands are in my mouth."

Mitchell is Moving said...

I think I'm going to start taking notes. I sketch, but that just makes people want to look over my shoulder. As for those bite marks, I've had a tattoo created to set off the ones you left in my forearm. Very artful.

Camille said...

My dentist recently built a new home. When I drive by, I like to pretend that a small portion of his delightful front porch is actually mine.

Surgery and repair years ago left me with some metal parts which apparently, seem to contribute toward holding my jaw together. Airport security scanners just adore me.

My dentist (the one with the delightful front porch) never fails to comment that he'll have no trouble identifing the body. Yeah. He's a real stitch that one.

Indigo Roth said...

Oh my, Pearl, this will never do; there are far too many coherent utterances in this tale. I know you are a lady, but at the dentist one must learn to speak with one's mouth full. Roth x

Ian Lidster said...

I so empathize with this, since I have been sitting in the chair staring at the ceiling for mult appointments this past two weeks. I only wish his charming and ocmely receptionist Erin would come in and make the whole adventure more agreeable.

HermanTurnip said...

Weird. I have a checkup tomorrow, and find it odd that you're writing about this subject today. I think, on a vibrational, cosmic level, our realities are somehow intertwined. Only my side of the coin houses fewer cats...

Lin said...

Oh boy! I have my check-up tomorrow...I'm gonna make notes for my next blog post. :)

I like my new dentist...he has pina colada tooth polish. YUM! That got us off on the right foot.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

I hate the dentist with a passion...

chlost said...

My mom worked as a nurse in a gyn office. They put a poster of a hunky guy to look at whilst in the stirrups....seems like something comparable could be found for the dental ceiling. Don't like the idea of the underbite-y dog, though. HATE the dentist, avoid it, then have to go when something bad happens. I was surprised by the new technology, but they never suggested an electric toothbrush. Maybe my dentist is planning to build a new house, too.

Susan Kane said...

I gave my husband a set of electric t-brushes (from CostCo with a $15 rebate) for his 63rd b-day. Who says romance is dead?

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

HA! At least you keep the hygienist amused. It's good to have a good rapport with the person digging around in your mouth with a sharp instrument. My hygienist and I have a good rapport, too, but when she's digging in my mouth... I close my eyes.

River said...

I would sell my soul for the mouthful of strong healthy teeth that I had when I was 17.
And if the Devil is reading here, then I didn't really mean it....

I can't use my electric toothbrush, the vibrations set my sore teeth aching. Yet when I go to the dentist, they can't find any cause and send me home with "mystery pain". I've given up on them.

Linda O'Connell said...

My dentist has three hygenists and they fight over me because I gift them with a copy of my latest anthology.

Marion Bulmer said...

If you keep on forgetting to put cigarettes in your mouth and lighting them, Pearl, you may find the gum disease becomes less of an issue with time. That, and the ridiculous cost of paying someone else to kill me. The incipient gum disease and the price of a pack of cigarettes here in the UK (astronomical because of the tax on them) were the big deciding factors that enabled me to divorce Mme Nicotine about eight years ago).

MOV said...

Ha! Great post. :) And I want to know how you were writing while she was poking you with the metal plaque pick-y thing. Or did you just dictate into your iPhone when she wasn't looking and you were pretending to spit??

Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, I am flattered! And I will try to live up to your high humor standards. :)

best,
MOV

Diane Tolley said...

My entire family, whenever we get together, or meet someone new is,"Don't tell her anything! It'll end up in a story!" Sigh.
I think this sounds like a new kind of stand-off. You with your razor-sharp pen and wits and her with her razor-sharp dental instruments. Be careful what you say to each other...

Daisy said...

I hate when they stick their whole hand in your mouth and then ask you a question which you can't answer, of course, because you have a hand stuffed in your mouth. :\