Friday, July 25, 2008

Dr. Teeth

The last time I went to the dentist I was 18 years old. It was my last cleaning before I went away to college and my father dropped me from his insurance. It would be well over a decade until I could afford my own insurance. Today I went to the dentist for a cleaning. I feared that they would open my mouth and play cavity bingo. Instead it took the very sincere dental hygienist almost an hour to clean the tartar from my bottom two front teeth. Gross, I know. It was so painful. Silent streams of tears rolled down my cheeks as she scraped, and scraped, and scraped. Scrape, scrape. Tears, tears. She asked about the last time I had a cleaning. I sat silent with my eyes closed. I apologized. She said only those two teeth were a concern. The rest appeared fine. I explained that I have inherited my mother's pretty teeth. Except that the bottom two were my father's. She had to stop several times so I could calm myself. I was beginning to tremor. I asked her if my teeth were going to come loose. When the cleaning was over she went to get the doctor. He smiled and shook my hand, looked me in the eye and asked if I was okay. They both were very sweet and kind. He looked in my mouth and found a mouth free of cavities. I was in shock. He said I had a healthy set of teeth and a nice smile...and of course that the cleaning job looked great. After he left the little room the dental hygienist made me promise to come back in six months. And she promised she would do the next cleaning herself and that it would be much easier for my mouth the next time around. Then she let me look at my teeth in the mirror. My teeth---it was a different smile looking back at me. I cried and let the tears of my embarrassment out. I am due back in January. I will be there. And in the mean time I pledge to floss and rinse...

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