Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Meet The Hygienist

Today I got my teeth cleaned at (REDACTED). I had never been to the office, given an insurance change and a low startle point previously realized in the East Village when a scrubby dentist (with flecks of something in his beard, mind you) cackled at the woman haphazardly brushing my teeth.

So (REDACTED) it was, as it was assigned to me through work. The first thing I noticed was that the interior was a dentist-slash-optometrist (optician? opthalmologist?) office. All right, odd, but with no reason for me to hightail it out of there given I’d already okay’d the morning absence from my cube and I actually really enjoyed getting catcalled by different construction workers for a change so all was still fairly right in the world.

Some paperwork and a gaggy x-ray where the technician seemed to think that the extra large mouth clamps (near doubles for props from Saw) fit only for the Hulk were actually the exact size for me, later and I found myself meeting the dentist. A flash later and he was gone; I was ushered into a corner room with rust on the floor and made to wait.

And then it happened. I met her.

To protect the innocent, let’s just call her, oh I dunno, how about Stabby McGougeFlesh. Stabby for short.

So Stabby looks none too please to be there, even though if I do say so myself, I said hi rather brightly.

In fact, this seems to gloom up Stabby even more. Stabby clips on the bib and lowers the chair. Then she pulls from the depths of a fiery, torturous hell what can only be described as an electric drill with a pirate’s hook affixed to the end.

Then Stabby does what she does best. She starts a-stabbin’.

Let me break here by saying that I understand. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, looking into a bunch of rotten mouths all day. But I hear the pay is good and the training is comprehensive and while you do need to wield the tools artfully, nature has already provided hygienists young and old with a guide:

White, hard squares = scrape
Pink, soft, surrounding tissue* = do NOT scrape

*Note, when said surrounding tissue, aka gums, begin to gush red, halt and desist! Even just momentarily, simply to gauge whether special care should be used or technique should be changed.

Apparently, Stabby had not learned this. Or maybe, Stabby did not care.

Either way I was caught in a human size mousetrap, with the wires from the various tubes she keeps shoving in my mouth crisscrossing my body, leaving me in a tangled seatbelt of sorts. And I’m trying to politely cringe. By the time I released my third pained yelp and tasted yet another fresh coat of blood she stopped.

“Oh are you feeling pain?!” In this way, like I was sensitive and a baby and no one else in the world ever cowered as she clipped and chipped away at their gums.

But what could be said? I didn’t want to piss her off. Oh, no, I did not, under any circumstances want to do that. So I said, “Aah. Well, just a little.” And I smiled pathetically as best I could, considering the devices in my mouth.

Did this stop Stabby? No it did not. She actually looked happy for the first time since we met. The rest went something like this.

“Wait—no, wait. Stabby, please. I beg of you. Nooooooooooooooooo!”


“Gaaaaaah! Mother of all that is holy, noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!”

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!! (She may have shouted out during this, "I'm gonna make you squeal piggy!!" but honestly I think I have already blocked it from memory)

The rest is between me and my therapist. However, I will tell you that the gentle touch of my hygienist did not stop there. I left the place with flecks of gritty toothpaste in my hair, on my cheeks and on my dress.

So, if you’re into pain. You know where to go…

Otherwise, cover your children’s eyes and run far, far away...


m said...

Oh man. I hate going to the dentist. I remember the last time I went to the dentist for a cleaning, I came out of there with an appointment to an oral surgeon to get my wisdom tooth extracted. I was not happy.

themarina said...

Oh gosh. I'm soooooooooo sorry to hear about the bad dentist experience. I've been extremely lucky with mine but D had an experience when he was 10 that has left him traumatized for life. Even a cleaning scares him half to death. I hope you have a better visit next time...maybe at another office!

M said...

stabby mcgougeflesh is why I'm scared shitless of dentists!

D.T. said...'s like the whole James Frey dentist ordeal all over again! If I were you, I would have socked Stabby in the face and high-tailed it outta there, never looking back. I mean, seriously, it sounds to me like Stabby was a lil' jealous of your pearly whites. It's the same reason I dont ever get my hair cut by a guy...I have really great thick dark hair and from experience, I know that a guy stylist will jack it up, whereas a woman wont. So if that is the case, find a new dentist, one without a crazed Sweeney Todd look in her eye, or else you can say goodbye to flashing a Colgate ever again. Thank God, I have a good dentist, who by the way is the spitting image of John Lithgow.

Anonymous said...

I've been to the same hygienist (she's been there for years), and I've never had this type of experience. I take great care of my teeth, so that may have something to do with it. If you neglect your teeth, it makes the hygienist's job very difficult to do without inflicting pain on the patient.

I put my two cents in because I would hate to discourage people from getting their teeth professionally cleaned, and also to encourage you all to floss at least once a day and brush at least twice - it will make a big difference in how hard your hygienist has to work.

Also, if done every 6 months, the pain is minimal if there's any at all.

Be true to your teeth, or they'll be false to you!


ps - only floss the teeth you want to keep!