Tooth or Dare

There is a certain amount of annual overhauling maintenance that comes with the territory when you’re over 40.

I suppose that’s the case at any age, but since I don’t like visiting the doctor for any reason, I haven’t always been the best at keeping those annual dates.

But since the fastest way to look 46 older than I really am would be to start losing my teeth, I’ve been pretty diligent about my every-six-months dental visits.

But I hate them.

The only reasons I keep my appointments are:

  1. My fear of losing my teeth
  2. The amount of money my parents spent on braces
  3. My love of corn-on-the-cob
  4. The funny chick who cleans my teeth

Yes, I love my dental hygienist. She’s a mom with two younger girls and a crazy puppy. They go camping, her girls play soccer, and they live in our same smallish town.

So even though my mouth is wide open for 80% of the time and I’m drooling, we still have pleasant conversation.

It’s like a mom’s night out, except without the martinis.

With spit up and ugly bibs, minus the babies.

This morning I pushed myself out the door, arguing (you know argue with yourself too) that at least I wouldn’t have to go back until Christmas and I could have a nice chat with what’s-her-name (because for all my liking her? I never remember her name).

I chugged the last of my HUGE mug of coffee, brushed my teeth a second time for brownie points good measure, and was out the door.

So when some other lady-who-cleans-teeth came out and called my name?

This is where the appointment went down hill.

She led me all the way to the room in the back, a room usually reserved for the pediatric patients. I briefly wondered if I would get to pick a prize, since my daughter got a Rubik’s Cube and a teddy bear just last week.

“I’m Kathy and I’ll be filling in today,” she finally admitted. I wanted to say filling in for who? so I could remember my favorite gal’s name, but I couldn’t speak.

She cranks my mouth open and starts scraping. No questions about the kids, my summer plans, my pedicure, or what the weather is going to be like.

Nothing. Just scraping.

Keep in mind that I chugged that HUGE mug of coffee.

After some more scraping, digging, and generally offensive poking around she gets out what I think is the water-pic thingie.

“I’m going to use this on the stains.”


(Mental note: switch to white wine)

She proceeds to use a tool that I know has never been used on my pearly whites before. It’s not that regular water-pic thingie that they use to fill your mouth with an insane amount of water until you gag.

This thing? Like a power-washer for your enamel.

With a sound like nails on a chalkboard (if you are my age, you know that sound).

Tiny jets of water are spewing into my hair, onto the face I actually made-up for the occasion, and down my throat.

I didn’t need any more water down my throat…or had you forgotten the HUGE mug of coffee I chugged?

The over-40 bladder is not something to be taken lightly.

Finally she declares me stain free. Actually she doesn’t declare anything, she just stops pummeling my teeth with highly pressurized water.

And we move on to the polishing and the other water-pic thingie.

Cue full bladder.

The more I hear the sound of the polisher and the whish-whish of the water-pic thingie filling my mouth, the more I need to use the restroom.

Mouth filling with water….whish-whish….

At what point in this torture would I even be able to get up? Not while being blasted or polished or water-picked.

When I almost can’t stand it anymore, she suctions out my mouth and asks if she should raise the chair to an upright position while I wait for the dentist to come in.

I take my opening, not caring that I’m wearing a dry smudge of spit and an ugly blue paper bib.

I excuse myself and practically run down the hall to the beautifully appointed bathroom which I know I’ve helped pay for over the years.


Back in the chair, the dentist chats me up, asks several nice questions (which I can answer, since he isn’t torturing me with tools), and I’m done. Back after Christmas.


Next up? My annual OB/GYN appointment. I love my doctor; she’s a mom and she’s funny and just makes it so much easier to force myself to keep my appointment.

I just hope she doesn’t call in sick.