So yesterday was my annual visit to the dentist. Visits to the dentist are fine with me really. I remember as a child my parents would drag the whole family (I’m one of five children) to the dentist, a bit of an epic afternoon for him. I was pretty lucky; my teeth have always been pretty good so I had nothing to fear. But waiting in the room next door listening to my sister was a little amusing. You could hear her screams “what are you doing?’ “what is that” “ouch”, God only knows how she could talk with all the implements in her mouth.
Years later when visiting the old family dentist he got me mixed up with my sister, he was so nervous, so I had a look at the patient card and saw my sister’s name with the sentence “tends to be hysterical particularly about needles”. I quickly put him right and the appointment went smoothly after that!
Anyway I digress, yesterday; I headed into see my new dentist. He’s ok really, but I could tell he thought he was going to get lucky with my teeth. Rob is a frequent visitor; I don’t think he has any teeth that haven’t had work done on them. Earlier this year he had the pleasure of his first root canal. It doesn’t bear thinking about really. You could tell the dentist thought he’d find something. He looked at me seriously, “now we haven’t had an x-ray for 3 years, so I’d like to do some today”. So I agreed. He arranged some plastic device that almost got the gag reflex to happen then two snaps later it’s all done.
He looked at those x-rays long and hard. I turn around in the chair to look too. The teeth look funny to me, so I tell him that. He looks at me as if I’ve lost it. Dead pan his reply “What do you mean funny, they’re normal”, all I could manage was “oh they look sort of skinny, I guess you look at more teeth than me”. Obviously!
He still hasn’t said anything about fillings though, so I ask him. “No” he says, “nothing is showing up on the x-ray”. Before I feel too relieved he adds “but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any decay, sometimes it doesn’t show up and I will find it during the examination”.
So I lie back and try to relax. Looking very trendy with my groovy old people sunnies to protect my eyes from the bright light I assume. A few pokes and prods, is he trying to hurt me? Then the cleaning starts. Now this is the bit where I get a little worried. For some reason I lose track of where my tongue is. Does this happen to you? I have no idea what my tongue is doing during this procedure. Between that and the suction thingy that the nurse is using I get a bit nervous, I’m hoping my tongue is behaving itself and at the same time trying not to drown in my own saliva. Next stage is that awful hook, I swear it feels like he is about to yank some of my teeth out with that one.
He still hasn’t mentioned any fillings. Polishing is next. This I can cope with. While this is happening I look at the dentist, he’s looking unnaturally tanned for someone who has just come out of a Tasmanian winter. Then I remember my appointment was shifted back by a week because he was “away”. Perhaps he was on a holiday in Queensland?
Still no mention of potential fillings. All he offers is “I’d like to give you a fluoride treatment now”. Ok I say. A quick rinse and then he comes over to me with what looks like a pot of goopy toothpaste, he smears it all over my teeth then tells me to swirl it around for 2 minutes. Trivial I think. So I start doing just that, but then I think that I probably shouldn’t swallow this stuff, the more I think about it the more I feel like I’m going to. Then I think how ridiculous I must look and I get the giggles, I somehow manage to keep it together and not dribble the stuff everywhere. After I’ve spat it out, I ask him again, do I need any fillings. He struggles to hide his disappointment, “no your teeth are fine”. I‘m sure he really wanted to slip in an “unfortunately” at the beginning of his statement.
I have a moment of smugness before I come to settle the bill. Even after the (not so) generous private health insurance helps out I’m still $150 poorer. On scanning the bill, I find that the fluoride treatment set me back $40! Geez, it must be pretty special toothpaste! I’m now thinking his tan is the result of a Mediterranean holiday, perhaps sailing the Greek Isles?