Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Whole Tooth, Part 1

I go to the dentist!

It's been two years since I last went, which is more due to the fact that I don't have dental insurance than because I hate going to the dentist. I anticipated that it would be worse than normal because this time I was going to a Low-Income, Sliding-Scale Dental Clinic for the Financially Needy. In my rather extensive experience with Low-Income, Sliding Scale Health Clinics for the Financially Needy, the standard of care tends to be a bit lower than my liking. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find my preconceived notions proven, well, wrong.

As one hygienist jams cardboard into my mouth, preparing to take x-rays, she notes, "You have a very small mouth." As this may be the only time in my life I hear this phrase, I forgive the jamming. I've tried to claim this in the past when dentists have instructed me to "Open wider. A little wider. Yes, keep opening. I need you to open wider." "I ha a shmall mouw," I explain. "That's great," he responds. "Now just open a little wider for me."

As I bask in the glow of the comment, or perhaps more the x-ray voltage, I notice a second hygienist out of the corner of my eye. She moves into my view, looks at me, and begins humming as she fiddles with the equipment next to me. Soon humming turns to full-on beat-boxing, and she starts dancing. And not just tasteful swaying ala "this is where you live." No, the woman is busting a freaking move complete with a pelvic thrust or two.

"Girl, you see what I have to put up with," says my hygienist, disapprovingly.

The dentist enters, and the Dancing Queen disappears. He looks like Dr. Stone, a dentist I had growing up. He's tall and balding, with glasses and a round belly. He is extremely pale, giving even the DNB a run for his money.

Which makes it all the more strange when, upon examining my front teeth, he tells me, "Girl, your teeth are white enough. Quit brushing them so hard."

"Okay," I promise.

I look up at the ceiling and try to relax my legs. I always leave the dentist feeling like I've just worked out. Every muscle in my body tenses for the duration. I'm delighted to see an orange army man stuck to the ceiling above me.

"Well," says the dentist cheerfully as he finishes his exam. "Are we having fun yet? There's no better way to spend a Friday afternoon!"

I laugh. "Yeah, right."

"No, seriously," he responds. He removes his gloves with a smack and walks out.

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