August 5, 2005

Rotten Mouth

I went to the dentist today. In two weeks my mouth will no longer be a fillings-virgin. I have two cavities. Two! I’ve always been blessed with perfect teeth. I’ve never had a cavity in my life. They’re minor little guys, but they’ve got to be dealt with nonetheless. The dentist assured me that he’d fill them in white and no one would ever know, but I was still disappointed. My record has been tainted.

The first dental procedure I’ve ever undergone was last March when I had a wisdom tooth taken out. At the time I was going to this kind of seedy dentist way downtown. The office was crumbly and not very clean looking. There was a television up above the chair, so I was watching Clueless while they pulled my tooth. I will now forever associate that movie with a molar being wretched out of my gum. I was able to bargain the dentist down from $150 to $100 if the pulling when smoothly. He had some guy with him who he was training—as if I was at a hair cutting school or something. I guess that whole barber-dentist connection hasn’t totally died. They gave me local anesthesia, made a minor incision and then pulled like crazy. I felt all this intense pressure in my head and then—POP—out it came. It all went smoothly and I didn’t even need the pain killers, but the whole hair cutting school association was unsettling, so I decided to switch dentists.

Today I went to a place on 12th and Waverly. It was the utter opposite of the seedy downtown dentist. The office was totally pristine and modern looking.

This dentist’s office was all about the excessive use of technology. Instead of Clueless showing on the ceiling tv they had computers that displayed my x-ray and a little camera shaped like an electric toothbrush, so they could show me those mean little cavities up on the big screen.

While I waited the hygienist played me little videos explaining how to brush and floss. They were modern versions of those ‘50s hygiene films with a voice over explaining things and some dorky guy demonstrating the intricacies of brushing. As the voice over said, “Always brush after breakfast and before bed” the dorky actor looked at his watch in an exaggerated way and picked up his brush. As stupid as the video was, I did learn a few things. For one, they said to always use a soft brush. Apparently anything else is too hard and will fuck up your gums. They also showed how carefully and systematically you should get every tooth. When I got home I immediately tried out my complimentary brush. I realized I really haven’t been reaching those top back molars where the cavities are. They’ve been completely neglected! Heartbreaking.

The dentist was a very charming fellow who’s sexual orientation eluded me. His parents came here from Portugal, where his mom didn’t get good dental care and most of her teeth rotted out. I thought perhaps this is what inspired him to go into dentistry, but it was actually that all his friends were going to med school and he had to keep up somehow. I told him that I’m a quarter Portuguese and told me he wasn’t surprised because I look very Mediterranean. He is the only person on earth who has ever thought such a thing, but since he is Portuguese I have decided that he is right. He also told me that I have fantastic teeth, and assured me that the cavities aren’t my fault. Sometimes you’re teeth have a funny shape, things get stuck there and you get a cavity. He confided in me that he doesn’t floss that often and it’s not as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be-news which I found very reassuring, since the flossing video made me want to puke. Sticking a string up under your gum is just nasty.

Posted by The Lady on August 5, 2005 10:54 PM