Thursday, April 22, 2010

Teeth Cleaning and Cancer

Going to the dentist is only slightly less awkward than going to see a Medical Doctor, except when I got to the dentist I know there isn’t anything wrong that a good cleaning cannot cure. The downside is most teeth cleaning operations are followed by extraneous suggestions for invasive unnecessary surgery. But I actually like the people I do business with when it comes to the teeth cleaning thing. Eight in the morning means eight, not eight ten, or eight-thirty. Be there at eight, and at Eight oh something, I’ll have my mouth open like a crocodile getting pecked at by one of those crocodile pecking little birds whose names I forget right now.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for too many professionals but the poor woman who is assigned to my mouth, her I feel sorry for. I don’t floss as I should, even though I brush all the damn time, even at work. She’s a gentle soul who doesn’t like working with people but she does make the best of it, and she is good. I can imagine she gets people in there, first thing in the morning, who haven’t brushed, and the inside of their mouths must be like a living autopsy, replete with what the victim ate for breakfast that morning, dinner last night, and who knows what else. Making a living on the inside of someone else’s mouth cannot be easy, and must be, on occasion hellish. I don’t give the poor girl a hard time at all.
Normal people are nervous around me. I can sit quietly in a room and suddenly the normal people will start easing away. Maybe I should stick to the standard greetings of the day. When someone asks me how I am I usually say that I haven’t been killed yet, and I understand that’s a little unsettling, but they do not care how I am. So stop asking. Just say, Good Morning, and do not ask any questions.
“What cha listening to?” A child wanders away from his parents, her parents, the creature is a genderless little thing with overalls on, but wearing earrings in both ears, and carrying a toy truck. I’m surprised at how strong gender roles are, and how it takes me a few seconds to react.
“Charles Manson’s podcast on whether or not idles curiosity in small children should be encouraged or if evolution ought to be brought into play, if sanity and personal space is to ever mean anything to anyone.” I reply.
“Then it ain’t Taylor Swift?”
“Regrettably, until I lose function of my hearing entirely, popular music, or what passes for such, will not be passed through my brain in a digital way.” I explain. “Yet I do have a few selections from the outstanding collection of Theodor Bundy, with none other than Gary Ridgeway playing bass.” I unplug one of the pods and hold it out.
“You ain’t from around here, are you?” The child takes a step back. The child looks for parents and hopes they miss their offspring. The mother unit espies the conversation and realizes one of four has escaped. She snaps her fingers twice and the child is jerked away quickly by an unseen force. The father glares at me with furrowed brow. That’s actually a good sign. I retreat back into the music of Aimee Mann. I would very much like to break into an air guitar solo but suppress the urge. I nearly take my pen and do a Def Leopard drum solo, but suppress that also.

“….Just don’t woooooork your stuff. Because I’ve got troubles enough no don’t pick on me when act of kindness could be, deathly, deathly, deathly, definitely…”

The Tooth Girl doesn’t talk while she works on me, and she’s trained me to spit when she nudges me, and I’ve trained her to let me up when I start to move in that direction. I have to know this pseudo-stranger isn’t trying to restrain me. Honestly, I’m surprised the chair doesn’t have straps. Tooth girl mentions her daughter, a friend dying of cancer, and I can tell the latter is weighing on her, and it sucks that I cannot say something, because I do cancer talk fairly well. Nearing fifty, cancer and I are not strangers. It’s maimed and killed among those I love, and I’d like to tell her that there is victory, even in loss. But, no, that has to come from someone who loves you, for it to really mean something. I try to make eye contact with her but she sees me upside down, and too close. Nevermind. I’m glad I’m in enforced silence.

She tell me the dentist wants to speak with me and I walked out of him last time because he left me waiting for ten minutes. This time he walks in, looks in my mouth and asks me if I was ever in the Army. HA! I knew it! Army food does very distinctive damage to the human mouth! All my theories have been… Oh, the can opener on my keychain, yes, Army issue, nevermind.
He asks me if anything has been hurting me and I tell him the recession. He tells me use one of the toothpastes for sensitive teeth. He starts listing them and asks me if I want a sample, and I just cannot tell him he’s misheard me. I’ve got a couple of chipped teeth, most guys do, and he asks me if they hurt, and I say no, they were chipped in the mid 70’s in a barfight. He looks surprised and I start to explain that I started drinking very young in life, and he asks me if I said a firefight, and I say, no, a barfight. Oh…nevermind. He shows me an X-ray of my teeth and tells me there is no rottenness in my teeth, and I ought to be okay. HA! The last guy wanted to cut on me. He looks down at his notes and see the “let’s get this guy’s insurance to pay for cutting stuff he doesn’t need” and decides against saying anything.
I get a new toothbrush, and some toothpaste I won’t use, and go get coffee. I write a page or two of notes, and feel much better about the day. I’ve got newly cleaned teeth, and no one I know is dying of cancer right now. It’s a good morning.

Take Care,


  1. If that cutting stuff is in your gums and you have gingivitis, do it. Gingivitis can actually give you a heart attack. Honest. Look it up.

  2. It's cool that you had made an appointment at the dentist for cleaning, since it is recommended to have it done bi-annually. It is very good to hear that your dental providers are lighthearted and share theirs stories with you, just like the Charleston, SC dentists I had my appointment at.

    That is why, whenever I have dental problems, I never hesitate to go to my favorite dentists in Charleston, SC to get my problems fixed.