Going to the dentist. It’s one of those things—like apologizing, or reconnecting with an old friend—it’s tougher the longer you wait.
For me—and this is quite embarrassing—it had been a very long time. Very long. So long that when the nice woman I made the appointment with asked me how long, I honestly couldn’t come up with a number.*
Needless to say, I was more than a little dubious about my visit, partly on account of the embarrassment of being a (mostly) grown woman who clearly hasn’t been taking care of her teeth. And then, partly nervous that because I had not been caring for them properly, the doctor would come in and tell me that it was a lost cause, that he had to yank them, every one. I mean, at this point some of my teeth have to be
90 percent coffee, right?
But our annual About dental issue was upon us and by golly, it was time to woman-up. And so, after dutifully flossing the night before (for the first time in ages in an effort to hide my many misdeeds … you know you’ve done it), it was with a tremendous amount of trepidation that I ventured to Williams Family Dental to take it on the chin, literally and figuratively.
But do you know what I discovered? I’m not the only one! I can’t be, because, while I’m certain that my mouth was a veritable disaster, the dentist didn’t seem alarmed to hear that it had been so long. He didn’t flinch and didn’t scold, even though I deserved it. He even told me that until he hit dental school, he himself hadn’t been a flosser. Gasp! And on the next appointment for my cleaning, it took less than an hour, and the hygienist didn’t seem to have broken a sweat.
Now that I think about it, perhaps it’s just the kind of long dental sabbatical that I had taken that keeps the old Good Ship DDS afloat. I mean, you don’t yell at your most lucrative customers, right?
I’m not saying I’m the rule—that we’re all of us running around out there with filthy mouths and a devil-may-care attitude about gum disease—but I’m not the exception, either.
So for those of you out there, nervous about visiting the tooth doctor, know this: You’re not alone! And also this: No matter how derelict you’ve been in your dental duties, you too can rip off the Band-Aid, man- or woman-up and march down to the DDS. The only thing waiting for you there is a skillful team ready to set things right.
*Editor’s Note: The writer’s parents would be horrified to discover she has not been to the dentist in such an expanse of time. She certainly was raised better than this and had regular check-ups while in their care.
Modern Dental Observations
(In no particular order)
• You can watch TV at the dentist! My exam room had a little flat-screen to distract me from the cleaning and scraping and drilling. Seriously, though, who gave Harry Connick Jr. his own talk show?
• Turns out the dentist actually does use all those x-rays he’s always wanting to take, when he’s filling your cavities and checking your mouth health over time. I had to have 18 x-rays taken and then we reviewed them (turns out the flat-screen is multipurpose).
• They showed me a horrifying movie about the dangers of periodontal disease when I first arrived. Said movie made me suspect the worst. The resulting wave of relief at the conclusion of the exam was unbelievable.
• I only had to have two fillings. Two! That’s 50 percent fewer cavities than Her Editorship, who goes for a cleaning and check-up every six months. How much of this whole mouth health thing is good genes? Just saying …