Today’s the first day of more than two weeks away from work (interrupted by one day when I’ll be back, but let’s not think about that). And how did I begin my time off (though it’s not really time off–there’s a visit from Dad, a conference and jury duty)? I went to the dentist. For the first time in something like ten years. For the first time in a long, long time I have dental insurance and the balls to sit in an uncomfortable chair and have my gums poked out with something akin to a fishing hook.
Throughout the ordeal I kept thinking how these people–these scrapers of teeth, these fancy implement users, these sayers of ‘ahh’ and ‘open’ and ‘close’ and ‘are you okay?’–are nothing but non-leather wearing, highly paid, riding-crop-in-the-closet sadists. They must enjoy inflicting pain on others. They must. I mean, why else would they be in this business?
Dentistry is nothing but torture, plain and simple.
My visit began at eight in the morning. I was on time and yet I had to sit in the waiting room for a full half hour, watching a show about teeth whitening on a plasma screen TV. Finally, the door opened and a large guy just stood there, didn’t say a word. Just looked at me like he knew what was about to happen, like he knew he was going to put me in uncomfortable positions while he jammed sharp metal things in my mouth and made me bite them. He looked at me like I was about to run away. And I was, really. I seriously considered bolting out the door. Then I remembered that they’d likely charge me for my non-visit. So I stayed. Followed him down a long hall to the torture cubicle.
Then it started.
We began with a big AHHHH. And then he started putting things in my mouth. Sharp pointy things. And he asked me to bite them and I did and when I did they dug into the roof of my mouth and made me bleed. My eyes watered. I grabbed the armrests, trying to will away the pain through the tips of my fingers. I tried to leave my body, to fly out the window and soar, like the seagulls, around the buildings downtown.
But I couldn’t.
So I sat there through the whole ordeal. Twelve x-rays. Twelve sharp pointy things in my mouth. Twelve little lacerations in the roof of my mouth. Twelve times of hearing ‘relax your tongue.’ What the hell does that mean? Relax your tongue. You relax your tongue. In fact, relax your whole damn self and get this shit out of my mouth.
But I didn’t say that.
Then more sitting there, waiting for the hygienist (aka Doctor Jabby Jab) to do whatever the hell he was doing in the other room. That lasted about half an hour. Then the dentist finally came in, poked her latex covered fingers around in my mouth.
And then she brought out the scraper. You know what I’m talking about. The fishing hook on a stick. And she poked my gums until I felt like I’d just eaten a couple cups of dry Froot Loops. In fact, I still feel like that. My mouth is raw. And she dug the thing into something she called my ‘food pockets’–the places where my gums have moved out of the way ever so slightly to give way to my wisdom teeth. She confirmed, once again, that these were indeed food holding crevasses. Then she pulled out what seemed to be a small meal that had been stuck in there for god knows how long. All I can say about that is STINKY. I remember my mother popping a zit on my back when I was a pre-teen (oh you know you went through that, too) and telling me that it smelled like baby’s milk. I think she meant breast milk. Or maybe formula. Anyway, that was what came to mind. Rancid breast milk. I wondered if it smelled the same. I wondered what that food was. Could it have been old Pad Thai? Pieces of toast? Raspberry seeds from my smoothie?
All this just so she could tell me that no, I don’t have any cavities and yes, my wisdom teeth do need to come out. Well duh.
I’m certain she got some pleasure out of the whole thing. And I’m certain she’ll get more pleasure out of my next five–count ’em five–visits for cleaning and sealing and who knows what else. And I’m certain I will pay dearly for the torture. And I still don’t quite know why.
And don’t give me that crap about healthy teeth and better living. I’ve heard it all before.