It was supposed to be a normal day at the dentist but they gave me a new hygienist. Calming my heightened stress levels over this change in routine was the first step. I can’t recall her name, so I’ll call her Gladys.
She came to get me from the waiting room and began walking me back to the cleaning station. Gladys spoke just like a golf commentator; slowly paced but with whispered excitement.
“Hi my name is Gladys. I’ve never cleaned your teeth before but I’ll be cleaning them today.” She went on to tell me her history with the company and I nodded feigning interest.
I had to clarify up front this visit wasn’t going to take long so I said, “I should be in and out in about 20 minutes; at least that’s how it’s been in the past.” It’s a little known fact; I pride myself on being the easiest and fastest cleaning of the day. After exchanging a few pleasantries I sat down in the reclining seat. I hate that seat. It reclines so far back I can feel the blood rushing to my head and I feel like I’m going to slip out the back. Kind of like in the movies when they toss a lifeless body overboard into the raging sea.
Gladys put on her latex gloves and adjusted her light goggles with attached magnifying glass. Normally they just shine the giant spotlight hanging from the ceiling into my eyes and brutally ask me where I was the night before. All this change was unnerving.
“I’m going to start with a pre-cancerous screening,” she said as she ran her fingers along my jaw line and poked at my double chin. I lovingly refer to my double chin as “Veronica” and it concerned me that she could get cancer. Great…one more thing I have to worry about.
Gladys asked me if I flossed every day to which I quickly replied “not even a little.” I smiled proudly knowing an attempt to lie would only backfire.
“Based on your gum size, you could have fooled me. You must have wonderful genes.” I’m not sure she’d agree if she could see my parent’s teeth. (Sorry mom and dad, the secret’s out.) She went on to narrate my teeth cleaning in her documentary tone of voice.
“Well, well. It looks like the lower left quadrant is losing enamel. I’d suggest circular motions while brushing, as the back and forth has been rather abrasive. Uh oh, I see you have some hyperkeratosis on your cheeks, you must bite them. Ah yes, there is some on the sides of your tongue too, you definitely bite them. And then there are these indentations on your teeth which indicate bruxism. Do you clench your teeth? You should probably get a mouth guard.”
She continued poking me with the pointy metal utensil. We must be nearing the 20-minute marker by this point. Gladys was somehow finding a way to lower my self-esteem in ways I didn’t know were possible. Now I’m worried about potential chin cancer, excessive skin missing on my cheek and nightly clenching of teeth. In the end, Gladys agreed my teeth were a very easy clean. She admitted she didn’t make it under 20 minutes and it was probably all the talking she did. Too bad all her talking has left me overly self-conscious about my mouth. I think Veronica and I need to go to therapy now to work out our issues.