I do not like going to the dentist. I usually avoid going to the dentist. I do not like the scraping noises. I do not like the scraping feelings. I do not like making small talk while I am trying to contort my mouth in awkward ways. Every time I go, I leave feeling guilty. I do not floss enough. I do not brush long enough. My toothbrush is no good. My gums are bleeding. My gums are going to die. My teeth are going to fall out.
I went to the dentist yesterday.
It is never as bad as I think it will be.
I am always analyzing how long they have spent picking and scraping around certain areas of my mouth, certain that they must have found cavities and root canals and huge pieces of food that have been rotting in my mouth for months. But yesterday, I got a good report. No cavities, a couple of wisdom teeth coming in straight but nothing to worry about for a while, no failing grades on my brushing/flossing report.
After the dentist left, the hygienist came back in and told me to rinse and spit, unclipped my little drool bib, and raised my dentist chair to an upright position. She said I was ready to go, and I paused a bit as I moved to stand up. I looked at her expectantly and she glanced at me, as if she knew what I was waiting for. She quickly turned her eyes back to her paperwork. I grabbed my bag, threw it around my shoulder and paused for another second. Ignoring my silent pleading, she said “have a great Christmas,” ushering me out of the room with her words. I hung my head down, knowing that she had won, and that I had lost – knowing that I would go home empty handed – knowing that I would go home to my old, worn down toothbrush without a new one to replace it.
As I left, I wondered what had happened. I have been a regular visitor of the dentist for 24 years, and have never left without a new brush. Was it me? Did my breath smell? Did she think I didn’t take good enough care of my teeth to deserve a new brush? Or are t here bigger forces at play here? Is it the economic downturn, that has forced dentists to make cuts in an attempt to save a buck? Are they trying to force people to use bad toothbrushes in the hopes that they will have more cavities to fill and more roots to canal so that they can stay in the black?
How can they just cut me off after all these years without even giving me a reason? Was it me or was it her? Is this what it feels like to have your heart broken? Why does it have to hurt so much?