I always hate going to my dentist; not because I'm afraid of him, but because I've been running out of ways to lie to him about my flossing habit.
I suppose "habit" is a bit of a misnomer as one would probably have to do something more than once for it to qualify. I don't know why I'm so obsessed with disappointing my dentist. It's not like if my teeth are perfect he's going to take me to Disney World (right?) or get free diamond-studded tooth grills, which is too bad because my teeth are boring without being adorned with precious metals.
Below are actual excuses I've given my dentist why I haven't flossed because I don't want to admit I'm just lazy:
- I ran out of floss
- It's too waxy
- It smells funny
- My daughter makes fun of the faces I make when doing it, which causes me to be self conscious so I eat cake instead
- I can never cut it properly on the little tab that's supposed to clip it off so I eventually have about four feet of floss before biting it off
- I really think plaque is the tooth's mortar. Without it, I'm afraid my teeth may fall out.
It makes little sense, but 15 minutes before leaving for the appointment I always take a really long time giving my teeth a last-minute brushing like I'm cramming for a test; like I'll be able to hide the last six months of neglect with an extra 30 seconds of extremely diligent cleaning. If I spit something out, I'll think to myself, "Whew! Thank God he didn't see THAT. I would've been in so much trouble!"
When you're younger, there's always some kind of prize after going to the dentist for, I don't know, surviving. Unfortunately the excitement is over as an adult; no more Tooth Fairy, no more choosing a sticker or toy from the treasure chest. The only thing you're given now is the gift of pain, often in exchange for lots of money. What, I'm TOO OLD now to enjoy the delightful random ricocheting chaos of a neon orange super bouncy ball? I think not. I still find them whimsically delightful.
Instead, you're lured into the most comfortable chair ever invented and told to relax before the black-hooded torturer saunters in, sharpening his tools. Actually, he's probably really harmless-looking and jovial, which is hard to believe considering he pokes around in people's mouths all day. I find his cheerful and pleasant demeanor instantly suspicious and assume it's the result of being heavily medicated, and that's not the type of person you want rooting around your mouth hole.
After exchanging pleasantries, he'll cover his face and hands in protective gear like you're some disease-ridden leper he HAS to touch but would prefer only observing through glass. What does he think is going to come shooting out of your face, hot soup? Then begins the "inspection" and "cleaning" procedure. For that he always uses either a harpoon or jackhammer. At least that's what they feel like with my eyes closed and hands with a Kung-Fu death grip on the chair.
And what is it with dentists and not being able to just sit back and enjoy the screams of their victims patients? Instead, they feel compelled to fill the silence with boring one-sided conversations that make me wish for a metal spear to the gums just for the distraction.
He'll only ask me yes or no questions, so I've devised a creative system of non-verbal communication. If he asks a question that requires a "yes" I'll lick his palm. If it's a "no" I'll squeeze his thigh. I guess I never told him that's what my signals are, but how could I with his hands in my mouth?!
After the exam begins the shame talk.
"So, how often would you say you've flossed since I saw you last?" he'll ask in much the same way a parent asks a child a question to which he already knows the answer.
"Every day!" I'll say.
"Kelly" he'll scold, giving me a disapproving look.
"Fine. Maybe less than every day." [condescending stare]
"OK I did on the way over here."
"OK maybe never."
"Not flossing is a problem," he'll say all judgy.
"Doc, when I floss my gums bleed," I'll say. "I don't think it's a healthy activity."
"Your gums bleed because there's plaque buildup that's causing them to be inflamed."
"I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on that one."
I get it; the more you floss, the more you bleed. The more you bleed, the more freaked out you get and go back to the dentist. Crafty.
Dentists also get upset when you steal their mouth-washer gun thing and have a water fight with the staff. Unfortunately the length of the hose on those things aren't very long. It's also fun to, when he's done with the cleaning, to ask him simply to put his hands back in your mouth because, "I'm not done yet."
As punishment for lying about the flossing, he'll have a lady come and use a belt sander on your teeth before violently flossing them. I end up leaving the place with a mouth full of blood, looking like I just got done gnawing on a fresh wildebeest. It's fun when there's a child waiting to go in. I like to smile at him or her, lines of blood slowly appearing from my gums, and say, "It's not too bad." Then I start screaming the moment I leave.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via squeezing his thigh twice. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for dental tips.