Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Dentist

I recently went to the dentist. You may or may not have noticed, but a few months ago I noted it had been five years since I went to the dentist in a post on this blog. Which post my wife read.

Let it be written, with the holy chisel, on the tablets of stone, that I shall not remind my wife how long it has been since I went to the dentist. That is all.

The first thing to do when I arrived was fill out a new patient form. And an insurance form. And three or four other forms, because apparently dental record keeping has completely missed out on the digital revolution. I think the forms were printed with a hand operated press. And I had to fill them out in triplicate with a quill tipped pen.

The new patient form asked how long it had been since I went to the dentist. I decided to answer honestly, and put "2+ years". Another form had one of those medical history sections with a series of questions like "Are your teeth sensitive?" Upon reflection, I decided they are not sensitive, unless they hear a real tear jerker.

After the forms, I was taken to the X-ray room. This is where they pull out the first of many medieval instruments of torture, the mouth-stretcher-upper. This does have a purpose, they place it in your mouth before the x-rays to make sure the experience is as uncomfortable as possible. But after the hygienist painstakingly adjusts the x-ray camera to point at the exact location desired and leaves the room, I like to turn and look straight at the camera and make weird faces.

My attempts at humor were rewarded with a trip to "the chamber". The hygienist pulled out several other devices that literally were used in the tower of London and began working. Soon, smoke was coming out of my mouth with occasional sparks and several high-pitched shrieks.

And now we come to the real puzzle, the great dentistry paradox. Can anyone explain to me why dentists and their assistants try to ask you questions while you are under the light? Like, I've got two picks, a scraper, and a gallon of fluoride in my mouth. Can I get a pass on answering questions?

Near the end, the hygienist said, "Well, things are a bit rougher when it's been two years since your last cleaning." And I, with my gums bleeding and teeth throbbing, chuckled to myself and thought, "Ha ha, I fooled you! It's been FIVE years!"

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