Monday, September 29, 2008
There really should be a 1-800-MY-DENTIST-IS-MEAN-AND-RUDE hotline
I didn’t even know dentists had their own offices until the hygienist told me the dentist wanted to see me—in his office.
I’ll be brief. What transpired was this:
Him: “Are you under a lot of stress?”
Me: “Kind of.” (His office was very Holiday Inn-esque; I was trying to look around as inconspicuously as possible.)
“Work. Kids. Bills. You know…”
I started to wonder if my dentist was moonlighting as a shrink. When the hell do dentists do anything other than breathe on you and force you to look up their hairy nostrils while they manhandle your chompers?
“Let me tell you about stress. I just saw a woman whose house is in foreclosure. She’s about to lose her job. Her husband’s got cancer. Her son is special needs. Her mother’s got onset Alzheimer’s. That is stress.”
Was he saying my stress wasn’t stress-worthy enough? I was about to rewind and elaborate on the specifics of my stress—surely something in my grab bag of worries was worth something!—when he whipped out something that looked… dentically disgusting.
“Your gums are receding. Badly. Do you grind your teeth?”
“—I’m guessing yes. You probably don’t even know you’re doing it.”
“—You need to start wearing a bite guard at night. Right away.”
Oh, Mr. Dental Man, I had been down this road before. The last time I had said yes to one of your counterpart’s insidious contraptions I had ended up with a jaw widener affixed to the roof of my mouth. My poor mother had had to turn a little key every night—a key she almost always dropped down my throat—that widened my jaw while I leaned over the back of the couch. At the time someone had suggested a water pick to freshen it; instead it shot darting bursts of water at my tender gums, bursts that sometimes hit me in the eye.
Hah! Foil me again will you.
I crossed my arms and leaned back. He and I both knew that part of the fun of being an adult was saying no to dental work.
“I’ll think about it,” I told him.
He looked crushed, no joke; his emergency bite guard intervention had failed.
On the way out I racked my brain for something devastating to share with him—something that would make him feel like crap for not appreciating that my stress was mountainous and deserving of his empathy.
But, lucky for me, I couldn’t think of anything. So thanks, Dental Dick, for making me realize that my life is just peachy.
No really, thanks.
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