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Monday, January 20, 2014

I went to the dentist. Here's how that went.

Have you been to the dentist lately?  Things are getting dark over there.  Or maybe it's just my dentist.

I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned last week, and the day before I made a decision to take a stand.  Not a huge stand, but, like, a little stand.  Like the kind of stand you would use to keep your Shrinky Dinks up when they came out of the oven.  You see, the last, roughly, 800 times I've been to the dentist and the dental hygienist has asked me the old "How often do you floss?" question, I've made some kind of stammering declaration like, "I try to floss a couple of times a week...I forget to sometimes, but I know it's important...I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry."  Truth is, I rarely floss.  I have flossed.  I should floss more.  I understand that.  But I rarely think about it.  Flossing is like the Kardashian family to me: I don't think about it and when someone brings it up, I can barely care even a little bit.  (Just so we're clear, I completely understand how much more important flossing is than the Kardashians, but this is a pop culture blog, of sorts, so, you know, quotas or whatever.)

I can probably count the times I've flossed between this upcoming dentist visit and the last on one hand, possibly on two fingers, so, I figured it was time to drop the act and speak the truth.  When the dental hygienist asks me if I've been flossing regularly, I thought, I'm simply going to answer 'nope' and see what happens.  I presented this plan to a friend at work, proud of my decision to live strong (too soon?) and not be bullied by the dental hygienists of this world.  He responded with an ominous, "Good luck with that."

Can I say first, my dentist plays the worst music in his waiting room.  To me it sounds like 70's soft rock, but not the hits everybody knows.  It's more like 70's soft rock deep album cuts.  It's awful.  I don't get nervous before a dentist appointment, so it's not like I require a relaxing atmosphere with soft, friendly music and comforting magazines about Caribbean vacations and snow-covered Connecticut homes.  But 70's soft rock deep album cuts and year-old People magazines don't impress me much.

[I should add here that I wouldn't trade my dentist for the world.  He's a great guy and his staff is extremely nice and courteous.  I've never had a bad experience there, outside of the music, but I have had a weird experience, and I'm about to write about that right now.  Thanks.]

So, I'm called back.  I'm congratulated on finally getting three of my wisdom teeth removed.  My teeth are examined and scraped.  And, then, the once dreaded question, although not worded in a way that would make a simple 'nope' response logical.  So, I had to do a quick, on-the-fly alteration.  That's all right.  I'm a writer after all.

"How often do you floss?" the hygienist, who up to this point had been both friendly and normal, asked.

"Not very often," I said, pleased with myself.

What followed was an explanation as to why flossing 'not very often' was the worst possible thing one could ever do.  I don't remember the lecture verbatim, but I do know it was ten minutes long and it ended with something about the dissected brains of dead Alzheimer's patients.  It was horrifying.  And totally inappropriate.

"You didn't expect that, did you?" the genial hygienist chirped, obviously smiling behind her mask.

"Well, I didn't expect it would go on that long," I answered.

"We're just trying out some new ways to get people to understand how important it is to floss."

I nodded, half-listening, my mind transfixed on the millions of deadly, poisonous gum germs I was now convinced were planning wholesale terrorist attacks on every major organ in my body.  A genocide was being planned within my mouth and nothing inside me was safe.

That's not entirely true.  I didn't get that freaked out.  I was more weirded out about what had just transpired.  These new tactics to get non-flossers, like myself, to take flossing seriously needed some work.  Maybe tone it down a few notches, leave the whole 'dissected human corpse' angle out for now. The way things seem to be going however, I expect to see some diagrams and glossy pictures of chopped up brains and black mold-ridden mouth holes on my next visit.

So, the lesson has been learned.  Not to floss on a regular basis, but rather to lie about flossing whenever I'm asked again.  And isn't that the American way.  God bless us all and remember, take care of each other and each other's teeth.



Frank Jacobs said...

Nice little story there! With the little anecdotes and a throughline that is entertaining. And it looks as though your dental experience was the same, loose and offbeat as ever; which is what any dental experience should be. It must be additiive to one's character, instead of something that merely takes away.

Frank @ Alpenglow Dental

Nichole Mercado said...

Oh my, I thought I was the only one who lies about flossing. But the difference is that my Austin dentist actually don't mind if I regularly floss or not. He even told me not to overdo flossing as it can cause damage to my gums. He told me that flossing before going to sleep is enough, rather than flossing first thing in the morning where your mouth is still practically debris from last night's floss session. So there :)

Dr. James DeFinnis said...

Great writing! Somehow, you made a dental appointment sound interesting. Your dentist sure is an interesting guy who has a funny, if morbid, way of convincing people to floss their teeth. I know you’re not really convinced yet, but I hope you’ll make it a habit soon.

Jamie DeFinnis

Lucia Massey said...

What a great story! Dental visits can make us tensed and stressed, but after seeing our healthier and whiter teeth, everything will be worth it. Lying to your dentist may be convenient, but it can create bigger risks to acquire dental problems. It’s advisable to tell everything to your dentist, whether it be about good or bad oral hygiene, so that they can help you do something about it. All the best to you!

Lucia Massey @ DentalNewMarket

Milton Wilson said...

Flossing is very important thing to do, maybe I sound like some dentist but that is truth. I regularly floss my teeth and i don't have problem with my teeth at all. I have 27 years old and I don't have single teeth with caries. Tartar on our teeth is bacteria collected over our teeth and then calcified.

Milton Wilson @ A+ Family Dentistry

Tyler Williford said...

Having healthy teeth is so important but I have also found that having white teeth makes me feel good about the way that I happen to look. This is why I always go to the local dentist to have my teeth whitened and it might be something you might want to consider for yourself as well since it is much easier.

Tyler Williford @ Marzo Smile