Friday, November 11, 2005

Bloody Gums

I went to the dentist the other day for a routine cleaning and checkup.

Now, I was blessed with pretty good (health-wise) teeth. They're straight enough never to have required orthodontics, strong enough to have only had one cavity (on an adult tooth as it was still coming in), and my gums are in good shape despite never, ever flossing.

Because my teeth cleanings are so uneventful, I only go to the dentist once a year. When I do, the hygienist always give me a half-hearted 'you should floss' lecture, but they've invariably already shown their hand by exclaiming "Wow, your teeth are really good" early in the exam.

So when they ask if I floss, and I go "Nope", they usually say something like "Well, it might be a good idea to start. Of course your teeth and gums are....hmmm...well, you should think about it".

I always smile and nod (to the extent that you can with instruments jammed in your mouth), and we let the matter drop.

Except for one particular hygienist who has been at the dental office for as long as I can remember. She sticks out in my mind because she is a demon with the plaque scraper.

I swear she is sadistic, because where as I come out of every other cleaning feeling no worse for wear, when I come out of her cleanings I feel like someone spent an hour jabbing me intentionally in the gums with a sharp needle.

And it feels like that because that's what she is doing. Whenever she tries to scrape a bit of plaque off the bottom of the tooth, she always starts by sticking me in the gum and then scraping upwards. This isn't an accidental or occasional thing, it is consistent, as it that is how she verifies that she's low enough on the tooth.

The most amazing part is when we get to the flossing discussion. It goes like this:

Her: So, do you floss?
Me: Nope
Her: Well, you should. Look at your gums. They're bleeding. That's an early warning sign. You should start flossing regularly.

I always want to shout "They wouldn't be bleeding if you'd stop sticking that damn scraper in them!".

Instead I smile and nod, and say "Maybe I will..". Completing that thought in my head "...try not to get an appointment with you next time, devil woman."

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