When I go into a grocery store, I don’t get a bunch of clerks scolding me for buying cheddar cheese or fat-laden salad dressing or a bag of lime-flavored taco chips (god love ’em). If I go see a movie the ticket-taker doesn’t admonish me for watching such prurient trash.
How come it’s so hard to find a dentist who’ll just clean my teeth or fill my cavities and take my money without giving me the same tired lecture?
I’ve made a concerted effort in recent years to follow their advice.
Okay, first, I’ll admit it, in my misspent, well-spent young adulthood there were times I was not so concerned with dentistry. Sometimes, at bed time, what was foremost in my mind was not flossing, all right? I’d make a tongue-in-cheek joke about the cavities I was concerned with filling, but we’ll keep this G rated.
And I brushed like a fiend. I really did.
Flossing, not so good. I admit it, and have now, for years, attempted to make amends and followed their advice and opened my mouth and my checkbook accordingly.
My doctor has perhaps more cause to scold me over cholesterol and skin cancer issues, but we can do the check-up without filling most of our time discussing the fat contents of blue cheese salad dressing (a weakness, I admit).
And I’ve bought the sonicare vibrating toothbrush that buzzes sudsy toothpaste around my mouth like a tiny manic masseuse with a buffing machine. I floss. I use this toothpick holder contraption they gave me to gently trace around my gumlines (“wood is fibrous, like a sponge,” he said, “and it cleans out the plaque”). I even rinse with diluted hydrogen peroxide every so often.
Then the hygienist comes in and wants to critique the angle I hold the toothbrush and then the dentist comes in and says never mind that it’s how you hold the toothpick holder.
Oh, you’re making progress, they say. But there’s still this spot over here. I’m afraid you need to come back and give us some more of your money and your insurer’s money, they smile.
Whatever gets me in the end, maybe the cholesterol, maybe the skin cancer, maybe a belligerent country-western or rap-crazed maniac in an SUV, I seem destined to leave this lovely, warming, unpredictable, troubled world with a marvelous set of teeth.
Before I leave, I’d just like to find a dentist from whom I can buy his service without getting a lecture, too.