I went to the dentist on Tuesday. It was super awesome, that is, if you like things like child abuse and genital mutilation. Someone give me some background information:
You may or may not remember my last post about going to the dentist. Basically, gum disease had started to set in as is the case with so many people my age and I had to endure a process known as scaling. It involves scraping and flushing the area between your gums and teeth. Rusty has an excellent description complete with diagrams here. In a word, it fucking sucks.
My problem then, however, was not with the actual process. I’ve had almost every dental procedure in the book and I don’t like to waste time getting all worked up about it. So, you’re going to give me some injections and saw on my head for a couple hours. What. Ever. My problem was with the attitude of the hygienist and assistants who performed the procedure. I found their tone to be unnecessarily condescending and patronizing, and I found her (the hygienist’s) technique to be heavy-handed and crude. The initial scaling was performed almost exactly three years ago. They sent me home with a pre-bedtime antibacterial mouthwash (which tasted like my cat’s ear) and set me up with a barrage of follow-up appointments. I performed the required maintenance despite fuming with rage every night at how utterly disgusting the mouthwash was and began attending the follow-up appointments.
Every time I went back for a follow-up appointment I was met with the same condescending attitude and heavy-handed technique. I would show up, and despite the diagnosis being that everything in my mouth had stabilized, the hygienist and her assistants seemed to want to shame me into healthy teeth by making me feel guilty and ignorant. It would all conclude with me paying them hundreds of dollars.
Finally, I just snapped. Because my insurance was a DMO and they were listed as my PCD, they were the only place I could visit without going through the complicated process of switching PCDs. So, during a routine appointment confirmation call, my eyes clouded over and I said, “You know what? Cancel that appointment. I won’t be coming in.” when asked if I would like to reschedule, I said, “Yes, I will call you when I want another appointment.”
You can probably see where this is going. The correct response is to slowly shake your head and say, “Oh, Tony Toni Toné. You dumb bastard.” For the record, I brush every single morning, and every single evening, and I floss in bursts, meaning I will floss every night for like 3 weeks and then slack off and stop flossing for like 2 months. But, no, I will not try to sugar coat the fact that, until Tuesday, I hadn’t been to the dentist in almost 3 years. They were really mean, and I changed jobs and insurance, etc, but the net result is that I am a jerk.
You ready for some comedy? Recently I started to feel some sensitivity to cold in a couple molars, so I decided it was time to quit jerking around and let a professional in there. I got a great recommendation from a coworker and I called to set up an appointment. I was informed that they did accept insurance from my provider, but they did not accept the DMO variety, which is what I have. After some additional research, I realized I was going to have to go see the dental office listed on my insurance card as the PCD. I’ll give you one guess who that is.
This time around has been a MUCH different experience. I was up front with my ignorant behavior and the (different) hygienist didn’t make me feel like a bad Labrador as a result. He had me wear giant women’s sunglasses while he “probed my pockets,” which was pretty sweet, and then he simply gave the news like a grown up. He said he sees my condition all too often, but he didn’t blame me for slacking on flossing because, lets be honest, flossing sucks. I’m still early stage but he recommended another full scaling treatment, which I know I deserve. His attitude was at once jovial and understanding and then he would quickly get serious and say something to the effect of, “We need to nip this in the bud early or someday all your fucking teeth are gonna fall out.” I can live with that.
The (different) dentist came in, however, and tried to ruin my afternoon. Two of my six year molars (your oldest adult teeth) are about to buy the farm. Since I was on an honesty jag, I admitted to having a nasty ice-chewing habit and then threw my arms up for protection. Rather calmly, the dentist said, “I don’t need to explain to you why ice-chewing is a recipe for disaster do I,” which I thought was a nice nod to my perceived intelligence. The molar thing is another not uncommon problem for people my age, but it will require two crowns within the next year or so. (That will be one George Bush rebate check, please.) The good news was that I didn’t have a single cavity. I was expecting more than one and bracing for as many as six or seven. Excessive for sure, but I like to prepare for the worst.
So I’m looking at getting to know this dental office quite well over the next year or so. Which is fine, I suppose. It’s always good to get crap like this under control. I’m just glad there are nicer people performing the procedures. I don’t mind if you stab me in the face, just stab gently and don’t patronize me while doing it.