Monday, August 6, 2012

Why do I always get the surly hygienist?

I know, starting off with an obscure movie reference - to a mediocre chick flick, at that - is not the best way to start a blog post....

... but I've had a really bad day.

I hate going to the dentist. Ever since I was little, I've felt emotionally abused by virtually every dental professional I've ever met. My childhood dentist was a perfectionist, so he was never satisfied with my teeth. It didn't matter how often I brushed, how thoroughly I flossed, how frequently I used mouthwash... I was always a disgrace to the human race. He even tried to convince my parents to make me quit playing the oboe in an effort to "fix my minor overbite."

Aside from the three day drug-induced euphoria when I had my wisdom teeth removed, every experience I've had in the dental exam room has been torture.

Today was no exception.

I showed up for my appointment and was immediately told that there were no dentists in the office. It was like Saruman had left Isengard for the day, and all there was left were the Orcs. (Or if you want to be specific - i.e. nerdy - Uruk-hai. Had to throw that in for my husband.)

I was led into an exam room and the nightmare began. First, the hygienist went through my chart with me. Yes, I know I'm allergic to penicillin. Yes, I know I'm celiac. Yes, I know I have teeth. Yes, I know I like the cinnamon flavored polish. She took my x-rays, noting that "nothing looked wrong."

Then the emotional abuse started....

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "Now, you are aware that you haven't been in for a checkup for more than a year, right?"

Me: "... no, last time I was here was 11 months ago."

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: ".... I see. Um.... do you have acid reflux?"

Me: "... No, not that I know of...."

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "Well, it looks like you have weak enamel in some places. It's probably because you have acid reflux."

Me: "As far as I know, I do not have acid reflux. It's most likely the celiac disease, since poor tooth enamel is common for celiacs. It's in my chart, the dentist and I talked about it last time."

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "I think it's acid reflux."

I dropped the subject, because obviously this hygienist was also moonlighting as a gastroenterologist. I thought this was the end of the verbal barrage of blame and guilt-trippage, but I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "Do you grind your teeth at night?"

Me: "Sometimes, yeah."

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "We need to get you fitted with a mouth guard then."

"My last dentist tried that. I take them off when I'm asleep and inadvertently end up choking on them... it's like a weird subconscious thing I do, they don't work."

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "I don't believe that. Do you still have it? We'll need you to bring it in so you can demonstrate what you mean. I don't think you can take them off in your sleep, you shouldn't be able to choke on it."

Me: No, it was a long time ago... I got rid of it because I was trying to swallow it in my sleep."

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "Fine. We'll get you set up with a counselor, to help you reduce stress. You're probably grinding your teeth because you're stressed."

Me: "Wha.... NO! I really don't think I need a shrink for my teeth!"

Obviously, this lady was an extremely talented and dedicated individual. Dental hygienist by day, gastroenterologist by night, and psychologist on the weekends!

After that exchange, she'd run out of things to accuse me of so she started cleaning my teeth. Roughly, at that. Her methods were of the "gouging and ripping" variety, which I'm assuming she used to see if she could coax my healthy, well cared-for gums into bleeding. She did not succeed (mwahahaha!) so she gave me a half-hearted 'compliment' by saying, "Well, it looks like you produce very little plaque!"

Wait a minute - I produce very little plaque? Let's try this again... what I think you meant to say was, "Wow, you do a really good job brushing and flossing and rinsing with mouthwash, here's a Spongebob Squarepants sticker!"

The cleaning was so rough that she actually jarred my jaw partially out of its socket... which she could have avoided if she'd been more careful. Also, it's in my chart that I have problems with that side of my jaw. (The right side of my face is still painfully throbbing, hours afterwards. Just thought you all should know that.)

After the cleaning, she got back to the enamel debate.

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "Normally I wouldn't suggest a follow-up appointment with a dentist, but seeing as how you haven't been here in two years-"

"-eleven months."

Uruk-Hai Hygienist:".... eleven months, I think you should come back next week so the dentist can assess your enamel."

Me: "... is that really necessary? It's already in my chart that I have bad enamel, it's part of being celiac. I use enamel-strengthening toothpaste and rinse with enamel-restoring mouthwash twice a day. Is there something else I should be doing?"

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "... well no, but I don't think it's the wheat allergy."

"Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, it's a total system disease. It's not a wheat allergy. Trust me, poor enamel is well documented in celiacs, and the dentist already knows about it. It's in my file."

Uruk-Hai Hygienist: "I think you need to drink tap water. It's got fluoride."

Me: "... I do drink tap water."

I didn't even get into the fluoride debate with her. It wasn't worth it. I just wanted to leave dental Isengard and have dinner with my husband. As she prepared my freebie-bag, she asked what color toothbrush I wanted. I told her to surprise me, since I use a Sonicare at home. She looked at me with this oddly shocked expression on her face. Yeah lady... I own a fancy $150 toothbrush, and use it twice a day. Wait no, I'm sorry, I don't brush at all... I just "don't produce much plaque." That must be it.

I finally escaped, and drove to the Mexican restaurant a few miles away to meet Steve.

I had a Mountain Dew and a big bowl of fried ice cream, just to spite the Uruk-Hai Hygienist. I took great pleasure in munching on my tortilla chips doused in delicious acidic salsa. That's right, missy.... look at me abuse my teeth, right after you scoured them "clean" - you like that? Huh? You like that?

Yeah, that sugar was delicious.


  1. This. Is. Awesome.

    So...are you celiac? Is this new? I heard once that it can cause you to have acid reflux. I think it was from you, actually.


  2. HAHA it can, unless you're not eating gluten. I *had* acid reflux when I was eating gluten.... but that was over two years ago. The stray Zombieburger won't bring it back. ;)

  3. Hahaha!

    I hate the dentist. I have been in... Years. A big number of years. I have very good teeth, a bit stained due to how much tea I drink, but generally tough as nails. Except for the left front incisor that I banged on the bottom of a pool while doing a backflip in the shallow end. Yeah, that one's got a chip in it. That had a cap on it until... Three days ago, when I bit a peach pit and it crunched off. It lasted a long time though, some 14 years I think. I didn't like the dang thing, I thought the dentist did a horrid job on it (it bumped up against my other tooth so I couldn't even floss between them) but now that it's gone, I can't "squeak" at my Shiba like I used to, which is how I would recall him. That's become somewhat problematic...

  4. If you ever need to have a root canal performed, as I did yesterday, I would unabashedly recommend Cedarrapids Endodontics, P.C. The very pleasant Dr. Jack C.Liu managed to perform a root canal, drilling through a porcelain crown with a metal lining to complete the procedure in less than two hours. No pain whatsoever. No anal retentive tendencies, no patronizing lectures - just state of the art amazing equipment, skill, intelligence and technique. The dental assistant was extremely kind, and worked in perfect harmony with the specialist. It was like watching an Olympic Gold Medal pairs skating team!

    By the time I arrived back home, I felt amazingly chipper. No sore jaws or facial muscles. No need for multiple Ibuprofren, ice packs, or a day-long nap to recuperate. Amazing.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.