After deliberating where to place your purse and bags (are one of those chairs ok? Does she use both of those? Is the floor clean? What about this counter?) the smiling dental hygenist enters the room. She clicks her tongue at you after hearing your response to the dreaded floss question:
“Well, I floss sometimes…I guess. Maybe once a week?”
Meanwhile in your head you mentally search for the last time you ate steak, corn or celery, knowing that that was probably the last time a ribbon of minty fresh plastic coated string saw the inside of your mouth.
The thought of steak reminds you that you haven’t even eaten breakfast for fear of a wayward Cheerio getting caught in your molars, causing the dentist to think that you are incapable of even a simple task like brushing your teeth.
As your stomach growls, the hygenist ties a grown-up bib around your neck and pats it down approvingly. The tray of hooked instruments glints in the sun. Probes, picks and other periodontal punishment tools just waiting to be jabbed into your vulnerable mouth.
Thankfully there’s a television in the ceiling and while worrying about your mouth hurting may seem trivial compared to wondering just who exactly installed that television and whether or not they knew what they were doing, it is a welcome distraction from the scraping of layers off your teeth.
That is, until you realize they’re showing the food network. Thanks geniuses, now I’m even more starving. Wishing you were as cheerful as Rachel Ray looks, talking about her olive and chickpea salad and chirizo sausage rice, you realize the hygenist has finally finished with her incessant scraping.
The polishing is almost worse, the gritty blue paste getting caught between your newly cleaned spaces, although you’re hungry enough to consider swallowing it. What is it about the dentist that causes you to feel as though you haven’t eaten in days?
Fluoride is next on the docket. At least you have the choice between bubblegum or mint. The former tastes so sweet you wonder if maybe the dentist is really just trying to drum up a little extra business, while the latter burns every last millimeter of your mouth that you thought was free of pain.
Next you’re shuffled off to another room to wait for the Doctor. He enters in a flurry papers and running shoes, his tie thrown over his shoulder and shirt sleeves rolled up as though he’s about to operate.
You wonder how he remembers every detail about you (“why yes Dr. I did get that promotion six months ago, it’s going well and yes, my sisters are great. No, I haven’t yet enrolled in those Villanella dance classes…) and rack your brain to remember something, anything, personal about him (…is he married?)
Luckily your teeth are fine, so you sign your name on the insurance papers, book another appointement for six months from now and think about what you’re going to have for lunch. As you stroll out the doors into the fresh morning air you hear the hygenist call after you:
“Remember not to eat for at least half an hour! Have a great day!”
At least you got a new toothbrush out of the deal.