Twice a year, when I want to subject myself to harsh criticism, be totally self-conscious, and feel like a total failure in life, I go see one person. No, it's not my shrink.
Actually, scratch that. My dentist is a lovely man who makes me feel like an oral-hygiene superstar. He comes in for 3 minutes at the end of my appointment, checks the x-rays, does a quick scan, and tells me that my teeth are great. Just the confidence boost I need after the appointment that has most likely just transpired.
Diane, on the other hand, is not a member of my cheering squad. Diane's my not-so-loving dental hygienist who has an axe to grind with everyone. I'd like to think of it as a love / hate relationship, but I don't think there's much love there on either side.
I would rather have back to back appointments with my OB/GYN than spend 45 minutes with Diane.
Today was no exception. I've been dodging the dentist's phone calls for a few weeks now, but I finally caved and they pinned me down. You see, they're quite the persistent group of teeth-lovers. They don't let you leave the office until you have your next appointment booked, no matter how many times I tell them that I don't know my schedule 6 months in advance, so just book me in whenever and I'll change it closer to the date if I have to. During my last visit, it was borderline incomprehensible to them that I wasn't going to be around until September, so booking my appointment would have to wait. Without fail, the phone calls began mid-August. I strategically called them back when I knew the office was closed and left a polite message saying that I would call to book an appointment when I was back in town. Apparently that wasn't good enough, because that's when the e-mails started.
Really, I was just putting off going in until my life back in Ottawa was somewhat settled, which they obviously picked up on and were having none of. "Just your luck", according to Monday's e-mail, "there's a cancellation on Wednesday, so we've booked you in!" By that point, I didn't even care that it was at an inconvenient time. As long as they would leave me alone.
Which brings me to my dental hygienist. I've been going to this dentist for a few years now, and in my humble opinion, I think I do a pretty decent job at taking care of my teeth.
Not according to Diane.
First, I wasn't using the right toothbrush. OK, so I went out and bought an electric toothbrush. Then, I wasn't using the right floss. Don't worry, I switched kinds to Diane's liking. She even told me I needed to stop using Crest Pro-Health because it made my cheeks "shed". Seriously? Alright, woman. If you think it's a big deal, I guess I do, too.
During my last visit, her tool slipped and she cut a flap of skin off behind my back tooth. It was painful at the time, but it hurt so badly three days later that I had to go in and get it checked out. Normally, I would have just left it, but I was going to Mexico later and I didn't want the wound to get between me and a few margaritas. When the dentist came in the room to check it out and see if it was infected, she glared at me and proceeded to tell him it wasn't her tool and that it must be a stress ulcer. Pardon me? I've never had a stress ulcer before and I distinctly remember her tool slipping and cutting me. Obviously, I must be lying...
One time, she even asked me if I used a tongue scraper because it would get rid of bad breath. Now, if anyone has ever seen me brush my teeth, I take my tongue brushing very seriously. It's kind of an obsessive habit. I was too embarrassed to ask her if I needed a tongue scraper, and might have shed a tear or two about it when Brock got home. Mortification to a T.
Apparently, it wasn't just my waistband that took a hit this summer, so did my dental hygiene. And Diane knew right away. The quizzing began before I even sat down, and within 10 minutes, she was determined to find out why my gums were bleeding. "You must be doing something differently," she scolded.
Oh, I don't know. Maybe because you're poking at my gums with a big sharp metal pointy thing? And not very gently, I might add.
I think she was expecting me to come up with an excuse and give her a reason to lecture me, but I wasn't going to let her win this one. I looked up, straight into her plaque-hating little eyes, and told her I hadn't been flossing. Not only that, but I didn't buy any mouthwash when I got to Vancouver. So there I was, living like a prehistoric man with just my electric toothbrush and my non-Crest Pro-Health toothpaste for four months. My educated guess is that's probably why they're bleeding.
Her facial expression told me that she really didn't like my answer at all, but I wasn't going to give in and turn into an ashamed child. I told her that I was back into my regular routine now, shrugged my shoulders, and told her hopefully they wouldn't bleed as much next time (March 11, 2014, at 1:00 pm, by the way). I might add that she didn't say much to me for the rest of the appointment. It was heaven.
Diane - 0
It was a small victory, but one that I won't soon forget. I don't go to the dentist to feel like an incompetent adult who can't take care of herself. I (diligently) go twice a year for two reasons: to get my teeth cleaned and to make sure I don't have any cavities. That's it. Diane might be harsh, but I'm going to stay strong. I even asked the front desk to book me in with another hygienist for my next appointment. I'm adding that to my list of small victories.
But on that note, please excuse me while I go tend to my bleeding gums...