"What exactly ARE you digging for?" The question banged over and over in my head as the young woman in front of me applied unnatural pressure to my bottom jaw with one hand, all the while dig-dig-digging at my molars with the world’s tiniest metal pickax in her other hand. My silver fillings had been replaced long ago with some white composite material (which gives the impression of my teeth being way healthier than they probably are), so exactly what rock or ore was this miner in the pink coat tunneling for? And she was serious, too. The woman gave me safety glasses to wear, for Pete's sake.
Dental textbooks apparently insist that this medieval torture known as "scale & polish" be done every six months, whether you like it not. Even with daily brushing and flossing our teeth apparently still require this scaling, which sounds a bit like barnacle removal for ocean liners. What exactly could happen in a healthy mouth in six months that requires these steely-sharp instruments of torture? Honestly, newscasters now talk about people booking vacations in space soon, yet the cleaning of mankind’s teeth involves archaic, metal tools that have not evolved at all.
At the beginning of the appointment I was handed headphones and asked what I wanted to listen to. I chose classical music, which was a mistake, because an entire orchestral section of wildly wailing violins could not drown out the screeching torque of metal against my teeth. Next time, I think I'll go with Metallica. Not that I know who that is. But it sounds like something that will give the hygienist and her tool kit a run for their money.
When it was all over, I was informed that my gums had bled a bit during the process. You’re kidding me? You poke around my soft, pink mouth with an industrial grade pointy object, yet seem somehow surprised, and a bit disappointed, at this outcome. I’ll tell you what lady, I’m going to stop using the 3 out of 4 dentist approved toothpaste for sensitive teeth and switch to one of the industrial engine cleaners sitting in the garage near my husband’s motorcycle. A year from now, I'm sure my teeth will be like lustrous Cartier pearls and blasting devices just might be needed to locate any reliable source of blood under chemically toughed gums.
When it all comes down to it, I realize that the annual prophylaxis visit is pretty important, so I didn’t hesitate to schedule my next appointment in December. But, I did suggest that if kids were given lollipops at the end of their visit (very clever, a guarantee of repeat customers, I see) why can’t adults be given some kind of a consolation prize before leaving the dental office? In fact, I’m going to suggest we all start a list of items we’d like to see in a big treasure chest for the over 40 crowd. Yes, over 40 – because, face it between the ages of 18 to 39 a person is numb enough from the pressures of adulthood. After 40 you’re forgiven if, now and then, you pout and stamp your feet a little at life’s unfairness, like this dreadful scaling with no promise of dark chocolate at the conclusion. Seriously, you see how that worked for us before, getting the FDA to approve dark chocolate for heart health, huh? A bit of appropriate hand wringing here and there and now grown-ups everywhere get to have a lovely chocolate bar all to themselves.
Nah. Maybe I should just buck up and find more coping tools to help me with my dental issues, like better music, breathing techniques, visualizations, etc. But next time, maybe I’ll go out and buy myself a small box of bittersweet truffles before I go.
I look forward to brand suggestions or donations.