“It’s funny,” he said chummily (and I could hear his smile beneath the pale blue paper mask), “most people hate the picking. Picking, picking, picking.” He grinned as he regarded his work – my gaping open mouth – happily.
“Not you, though,” he went on. “You hate the polishing. I can’t figure it out.”
This is the world’s nicest dentist. When I first came to him back in the Bronze Age, I confessed that it had been over 12 years since I’d been to the dentist because I have such paranoia. He was very reassuring and very kind back then, telling me that (the good news) I have the largest sinuses he’s ever seen – no sinus headaches for me! – plus no wisdom teeth at all, and also (the bad news) I had seven cavities.
He was so careful with me back then; he recognized a phobia and did everything he could to minimize the sound and feel of machines in my head.
Since then, however, he’s forgotten. I think HE thinks that I’m over my little tics and whim-whams, because I don’t actually bite him when he puts any buzzing, whirling, insane-making, long-handled rods in my mouth any more…
…but when I lie back in that barbarous chair (“let’s just make you more comfy” as I am forced into a supine position from which successful flight is significantly less likely), my toes are all fully extended and splayed inside my shoes, and my fingers on that useless little Kleenex are clutching over my belly – which is also clutching. My open mouth is a grinning rictus of HURRY UP HURRY UP DON’T STOP TO CHAT FINISH THIS.
He’s right, of course – I really don’t mind the picking part, because I like to pick a peeling sunburn, and I think that if I had his tools, I’d probably be constantly scraping away at my teeth throughout the year for the fun of seeing hunks of plaque go flying.
But anything motorized? I’m making the sign of the cross, forking the evil eye, tamping down on the fight-or-flight instinct. I can’t bear to be handed a buzzing pager at a restaurant; how can I stand to have a polisher (or – no-no-no-no-no – a drill) against my teeth? Filling my head with madness? GOD save the Queen.
The point is – if you want to protect and defend your health not just for today but well into the future, then you HAVE to brave the dentist. Once the teeth go, it’s an inevitable downhill slide into poor health and a depressing old age. Twenty minutes with happy Dr. Dean and then I can ignore the whole mess for a year more.
Today I have been a good adult.
I sometimes think about getting my teeth bleached. Dr. Dean would do it for me, gladly. That ivory is looking a little dingy. I dunno. Do I really want to look younger enough to endure another hour at the dentist? (So far? NO.)