I’m not sure why, but I try to cram before dental appointments. I’m normally an occasional flosser, but the night or two before a dental appointment, I will floss the living hell out of my teeth. And brush them a bit more vigorously to boot. It never seems to help but I do it anyway.
Today, on the way to a teeth cleaning, I was worried that I hadn’t flossed enough the night before and was flossing in the car on the way to the dentist’s office. I got a few odds looks at traffic lights, but I didn’t care. I hate it when the dentist tells me my teeth look like shit, which happens like clockwork, every six months.
Before the carnival of scraping began today, I sat reclined in the chair while listening to Steve Perry’s Oh Sherrie (against my will of course, not on an iPod) and looked at the dental hygienist’s diploma. It was from a school in Ecuador and had no less than 10 official looking stamps and seals on it. I counted. For some strange reason, her diploma made me hopeful. People have crooked, rotting teeth in poor countries like Ecuador, so I thought that perhaps she wouldn’t be too judgmental about mine. I was wrong.
“That’s not my diploma,” said the woman who entered the room.
This businesslike Caucasian woman got right to work as Barry Manilow’s Copacabana offset the scraping noises.
“Lot of tartar here,” she said, before asking, “Do you floss every day?”
Dentists and dental hygienists are always asking me how often I floss. I know that it’s their job, but I wonder why it’s necessary to shame people like this. You’ve got a birds-eye view into my tartar-laden mouth; you tell me how often I floss.
“Ummm, no,” I said, in a moment of who-gives-a-fuck candor. I expected her to ask me how often I flossed but she let the matter drop. Normally I tell dentists that I floss a couple times per week, but most don’t believe me. Most likely because it isn’t true and they know it.
As the scraping seemed to go on forever, the thought occurred to me that being a dental hygienist is a horrible job. I don’t even like to floss my own teeth, let alone do it for someone else. And I’ll be damned if I could listen to the soft hits radio stations these places always pipe in all day long. How about some classical or jazz? Christ.
So the good news was that I had no cavities. Even more promising, I was given a little plastic doggie bag with a new toothbrush and some toothpaste. And some floss. Though I doubt if I’ll use until I’m on my way to the next appointment. Only kidding. Really. I floss every day. I swear.