Do you know why I don’t mind going to the dentist? For the free toothbrush? Yes, that too. Because the cute receptionist always flirts with me? I’d rather not say. I don’t mind going to the dentist because you get to take time off work, lie down in the middle of the day, be surrounded by professionals who want to make you feel and look better, and no one is ever, ever going to break it to you that you have six weeks to live. You just can’t get that kind of guarantee when you visit the doctor.
Yes, there are the needles and the drilling and the whimpering, but the dentist’s office is generally quite mellow, what with the piped in music and the employees chattering away, never once betraying any dismay that their life’s work involves being knuckle deep in saliva.
There’s rarely a sense of urgency at the dentist because essentially we’re dealing with rot, and rot takes its sweet old time. That’s just decay it is.
Plus, being at the dentist gives you time to think as you lie back and try not to look up the hygienist’s nose. You think about how hundreds of years ago, if something dodgy was going on in your mouth, you’d just ask your buddy to poke around in there with his fingers. And then you would die because your buddy’s fingers were germ-filled disgustingness hundreds of years ago.
And now, here we are, all clean and sterile. And hygienists! There were no hygienists when I was a kid. The dentist himself took care of removing all that plaque and the three-month-old bits of steak (because back then flossing was for Communists). Now, the hygienist does all the heavy lifting, and the dentist just breezes in like some master chef, poking her pokey thing and telling you to say two Hail Marys and make another appointment.
And maybe that’s the reason it’s so mellow at the dentist, because everyone’s essentially bored. I mean, they’ve pretty much figured teeth out. Kind of set in their ways, teeth are. Just how much further can dentistry go? They have that numbing cream they rub on your gums before the needle, which is nice. And the very cool spit-sucker, which I could really use when I’m sleeping, if it ever goes on the market. And that rubber mouth-condom contraption, whose sole purpose, I’m quite sure, is to fool the patient into thinking something highly complicated is going on. There really hasn’t been much else in the way of dental innovation in the past decade or so. I did see an ad the other night for toothpaste, now with even more bubbles!, which is something, I guess, in a rabid dog kind of way.
For a while I was seeing a dentist who tried to convince me that I needed gum grafts. But not ordinary gum grafts. These would be human transplant gum grafts, AKA gums from the recently deceased. They would take pieces of the donor’s gum, eradicate the DNA somehow and stitch them into my mouth, where it would take on my DNA. Ummm, nnnnnnnno. There are a lot of things I won’t put in my mouth and dead man’s gum is near the top of the list. I’d rather have hundred-year-old fingers.
My children suspect that this particular dentist might have been a murderer trying to dispose of a body – one teeny-tiny bit at a time.
Since then, I’ve seen other dentists and none of them has ever suggested gum grafts, which leads me to suspect that the first dentist was pushing what’s called an up-sell. He was trying to SuperIncisor™ me.
Or, quite possibly he was just bored and hoping to conduct a cool science experiment in my mouth.
Did I make a stink? Of course not! You don’t want to upset your dentist. They have pointy things, and I wanted my toothbrush. Plus, I go to the dentist to relax not to complain. If you want to enjoy your dental visit, my advice to you is open wide and keep your mouth shut.