I’ve been going to the dentist twice a year every year for the past – what – 30 years of my life? My mom was on the ball when it came to dental health. And good thing because by the time I was 12 years old I think all of my molars were filled with cavities.
I swear I was not raised on pixie sticks.
Luckily, since then I’ve had a pretty clean bill of dental health. I’ve also been visiting the same dentist for the past 24 years. The dentist, I will call him Dr. P, was a jovial older man who worked in a small office with his wife. At first glance it seemed like the perfect arrangement – a dependable assistant and a boss you could sleep with - legally. However I can remember more than one occasion where the hints of their marital discord would come across in a terse direction to clean so-and-so’s teeth or a snippy exchange that was probably more about who forgot to take out the trash than who forgot so-and-so had an appointment at 6 pm.
When Dr. P announced his retirement last year, I got sad. Despite the awkward marital tension, the tacky late 70s dentist décor, his office desk that was always so messily piled up with papers that I wondered how he would even find my teeth with organizational skills like that – despite all that I thought he was a good dentist. He always gave me a free toothbrush. He scored extra points the time he told me I had a high pain threshold. And he always entered the room with the greeting “hello my friend” even though I knew he wasn’t my friend and I knew that he was really thinking “hello my enemy whom I will torture by scraping enamel off your teeth like nails down a chalkboard so painfully loud that you will run out of this office screaming MOMMY with that little paper bib around your neck.”
Hello my friend.
When he retired, he left the name of another dentist office for all his patients to use. I took his suggestion and made an appointment last year.
Little did I know that things have changed since 1985. That would be the last time my old dentist brushed up his dental care skills. Nowadays you don’t even really see the dentist. He’s just an accessory. Or a name on the door. That’s how it seemed. I think I met the new dentist for 3 minutes, at the end of a 30 minute appointment, where my teeth were cleaned entirely by the dental hygienist. Was this normal? I thought. Is she skilled to be touching my teeth like that? Regardless, it was a good experience. I didn’t enjoy the 30 minute drive but I also didn’t feel like researching a new dentist. Plus I liked their office décor and it smelled really good.
The important things.
I must have forgotten to make another appointment because last week I got a letter in the mail. It was a nice letter but basically imploring me to go back. I had missed a 6-month check up which meant the future of my dental health was hanging perilously by a piece of floss. I figure I only have a few good decades left with my teeth – shortened by every bottle of Accelerade I take down – so I might as well take care of them.
Plus I was really touched that they would send me a letter.
I loaded up on Bunny Grahams before I went for fear that they would do something to me that would require no eating for 30 minutes post visit. This meant I spent about 10 minutes brushing my teeth to get half a box of Bunny Grahams out of my teeth.
I arrived at the office, took a seat in the reclining chair only to lean back to see a giant television staring at me. Where are the tools, I wondered. The old dentist had a tray of tools that he would leave sitting in front of you - no tv - as if the day’s torture by tool was a selection process depending on your demeanor and his mood. Or latest argument with his wife who was sitting all surly at the front desk probably intentionally misfiling insurance claims. But here - no tools. Everything seemed to be hidden behind walnut colored cabinets or I just was too placated by the serene green color of the walls.
I pretend to be interested in watching whatever it is that we are watching as the hygienist cleans my teeth. She tells me I have really clean teeth. I’m pretty relieved to hear that. What is it about the dentist – I go in fear that one day he’s going to tell me I have 1 month left before they have to pull out of my teeth or get the dreaded root canal.
The hygienist asks me about my gums and then suggests some fluoride. Flouride? ..Flouride..Wait just one minute there. I remember this evil dentist trick. File under code name Flouride. Sit with two plastic trays in your mouth so uncomfortable you want to gag but even worse because they are filled with a bitter gel. Sit like that for 30 minutes. Then you can’t eat. For another 30 minutes. Add to that the 30 minutes you can’t eat after getting your teeth clean and the 30 minute drive and all of a sudden I’m starving here with no food for 90 minutes! NO! NO FLOURIDE!
It will make your gums feel better and it’s covered by insurance.
FINE! FEED ME THE FLOURIDE!
The last time I had fluoride was in my teens. I guess they don’t normally do it on adults unless they have receding gum lines. I do! That plus my teeth make me an easy shoo-in for Mr. Ed. I’m all gums! Back to the little plastic tray which was now in the mouth for….3 minutes. I did the (difficult) math and realized that is 180 seconds. When I got uncomfortable after 60 seconds I started counting to 120 and finally the trays are out of my mouth.
It gets better. I am due for 5-year films. The hygienist tosses a weighted vest over me and brings in a tray full of 20 things that need to go in my mouth while she takes pictures. I did not enjoy this photo shoot! Each one hurt or made me want to gag.
I’ve been sitting in the chair now for 45 minutes and I’m ready to leave. Please stop touching my mouth! And, give me my free toothbrush! Just when I thought we had wrapped things up the hygienist says something to me:
Have you met the dentist?
Well you’d think coming to a dentist office for a dental appointment that YES I have met the dentist. For crying out loud what kind of question is that!?!?
Have you met both dentists?
Hmm…no, I met one dentist last time.
Do you want to meet the other dentist?
Uh…no? Not really. Do I need to? Does it matter? I tell her listen I’ve only been here once and I doesn’t matter to me which dentist I use. I don’t need to meet both dentists.
Oh, you want to meet Dr. BlahBlah.
AH! Back off woman. She says it to me with an urgency in her eyes and voice while coming in closer to me. She is not letting this go. Cool it with the other dentist! What’s your deal with him? It reminds me of that one time Chris got obsessed with the Umbrella song and for a week straight kept asking me who sings it. Who sings it! Tell me who sings it! Who sings it again?
OH MY GOD FOR THE 100TH TIME…RIHANNA. NOW DROP IT!
I’m scared. I’m confused. Meanwhile I’m thinking to myself…
W – T – F
I’ll go get Dr. Blah Blah.
(give me my f*ckin' free toothbrush - NOW!)
No sooner does Dr. BlahBlah enter the room then I get it. Oh, I really, really get it. Dr. BlahBlah is hot. I mean freakin’smokin’ hot Asian with perfect skin and carefully sculpted dark hair kind of hot oh and did anyone also pick up on the fact that he is a DOCTOR?
He reaches out his gloved hand and introduces himself to me. He tells me I have great teeth (LIES!). He asks about my gums. He checks out my photos and tells me to keep up the good dental work.
I feel violated. This doesn’t feel right. I think the hygienist thinks she’s doing me a favor by introducing me to the hot dentist but it does nothing but scare me. He’s too young to know what he’s doing. And furthermore someone that hot should not be making a living out of touching other people’s mouths. A dentist should have whitish hair and wear a little plastic mask and thick glasses with those little binocular things extending from each lens, a white coat and walk in smelling like antiseptic while saying to me:
Hello my friend.
I want my old dentist back.
But looks like I will have to settle for the other guy. The other dentist that is. Because I don’t want his hot partner touching my teeth. You see, there is a list of occupations in which I can handle hotness: fireman, cowboy, cabana boy, personal trainer, man with toolbelt (but must have good hygiene and not be wearing stonewashed jeans) and cyclist.
Dentist is not one of them and I’d like to keep it that way.
free toothbrush please?