It was all going along so well. I had a lovely talk with my friendly neighborhood Unemployment Adjudication… ummm… Guy (Representative?), covering such fascinating topics as how to properly report my freelance earnings–as I have doubled my contracts since yesterday (that’s what’s cool about having one contract… once you have TWO contracts, you’ve got twice as many!)–and how my former employer has decided to give me the rest of the money they sort of forgot to finish paying me before. All in all, not a bad start to the day, you know?
I was feeling good. Empowered! Hopeful! Less broke! Practically giddy!
Midway through the day I brushed my very beautiful teeth extra carefully, and flossed–yes, FLOSSED–with reverence. I topped it all off with a hearty swish of the flouride rinse, and headed out to have my teeth cleaned.
You may remember that I only started going to the dentist regularly again fairly recently. Despite being told I have gum loss, despite having my first two cavities ever filled, somehow these people managed to convince me to keep coming back. I think it’s the festive scrubs that the hygienists wear. It’s impossible to be unhappy in a place where everyone is clad in large, smiling molars doing things like running around with giant toothbrushes.
I never did go to the periodontist for a consult like I was supposed to. Oops! (I heard they just wear normal clothes there. Forget it.) But I’ve been to my regular cleanings and every time I’m told how gorgeous my teeth are and what a good job I’m doing taking care of my smile.
Personally, I think my teeth are a little frightening. I have BIG teeth. And LOTS of them. I mean, no more than the usual amount, I suppose. But they SEEM really plentiful. Let’s put it this way: I was really excited when Julia Roberts became popular, because she’s got even bigger teeth than I do. The point is that I’m a bit self-conscious about my teeth, and perhaps part of the reason I don’t mind going to the dentist is because they always ooh and aah over my teeth and for half an hour I feel a little less like Mr. Ed.
I arrived; the hygienist took me back to the big chair covered in a plastic bag; as I tried to arrange myself in such a way as to minimize the crinkling and sticking of plastic to bare skin, she announced that I was due for x-rays. Goody! She arranged the little films in my mouth one at a time, and on the third one I accidentally bit her. Well, her gloved fingertip. Probably I didn’t even catch any of her finger, but we had an awkward moment where her glove stretched and then I opened my jaw and her glove snapped out and I tried to say “I’m sorry” but I still had a film in my mouth so it came out like “mswra” instead.
We had a laugh about it, afterwards. Hahaha! I bit you! Oh, I’ve had worse, she assured me. You were gentle! Hahaha! The dentist is FUN!
Then she started with those evil pointy things. Scraping my teeth and poking at them and generally making me want to flip off that chair, swing from the blinding light above, and use the accumulated momentum to kick the instruments out of her hand. I don’t do that, of course. I just sit there with my mouth open, willing myself not to salivate excessively, and hope it will be over soon.
“Huh,” the hygienist said. She pulled the light a little bit closer, and scraped one of my bottom teeth several times, slowly. “That’s… wow,” she murmured.
“Wha?” I asked, trying not to spit.
“Hang on,” she said, “I’m just going to look at your file for a minute. Ahhhh, I see we’ve talked about your grinding your teeth, before.”
“Well, I think it’s safe to say you’re still doing it. Have you been under an unusual amount of stress?”
(Well, that was even funnier than when I bit her finger.)
Turns out, I can hide the fact that I don’t floss very often. And I can pretty much get away with taking so-so care of my teeth, because I have nice strong teeth that are “highly resistant to decay” (between the hygienist and the dentist, I heard that phrase at least half a dozen times this afternoon). But I can no longer hide the fact that I clench my jaw and grind my teeth.
G’head. Ask me why.
The hygienist whipped out a mirror and held it up for me and adjusted the light just so, and showed me what she’d discovered.
Did you know that if you clench and/or grind your teeth hard enough and often enough, you can crack them? CRACK. THEM. Neither did I.
Together we admired the perfect vertical fissure she’d just found in one of my bottom incisors. I was horrified. She explained that it was a superficial crack (I shall forever after blame my proliferation of shoes on that crack, because it’s very into fashion), not a tremendous risk, although she’d not seen one before that actually ran the entire length of the tooth (as mine does), so that was definitely something to watch closely, blah blah blah; she was still talking when I shifted my gaze a little and gasped.
And then I got to point out that three teeth over (she hadn’t gotten there yet with her assortment of torture implements), I had another one cracked from top to bottom. Two cracked teeth in the last six months. That’s not really what I had in mind when I was thinking about what I might have to show for myself by now.
I may have told the hygienist that I didn’t like her anymore, and that I bit her on purpose. She seemed a little nervous while she was flossing me.
But I really wanted to bite the dentist, because he 1) made me wait forever for my consult while he chatted with the office staff about his vacation (hey buddy, congratulations on your new BOAT, but my teeth are fracturing while I’m sitting here waiting for you), 2) told me I need a custom bite plate that my insurance doesn’t cover, and 3) suggested sealants for both cracks as well as several other “deep grooves” on other teeth. The grand total for these “recommended” services is… more than I anticipate earning this month. So. Um. I thanked him for my free toothbrush and said I’d see him in six months.
(Dear Santa: I have been just as rotten as usual this year. I’m sorry. But I would still really love to have a nifty customized nighttime mouth guard so as not to end up with multiple root canals and eventually dentures before I turn 40. I promise to leave out some really good cookies for you. Hugs and kisses! Mir)
Oh well. I hear one good way to feel less toothy is to… have fewer teeth.
Hey! Know what does NOT make me clench my teeth? Monkey had his first day of kindergarten today. When Chickadee and I walked into his room to pick him up, he was bouncy and joyous and grabbed me in a big hug.
“Hey, buddy!” I planted a smooch on his cheek and leaned in to whisper in his ear. “What did you think of your first day of kindergarten?”
“It was GOOD!” He beamed. He gestured for me to lean in again and offer my ear. I did, and he stage-whispered, “I think I should come back again TOMORROW!”
That made me forget my bleeding gums for a little while.