Sunday, March 08, 2009

Dentally Challenged

I hate going to the dentist. Not just for the reason that most people hate going to the dentist. I also hate going because they lie to me.

When I sign in at my appointment time, the receptionist says, “Someone will be with you shortly.” Of course, by “shortly” she means “before, or perhaps during, the next ice age”.

No use arguing, so I retreat to the waiting area. I have two magazine options to choose from: Gum Disease Monthly and People. I choose the former because, well, the alternative is People. This dental publication shows photos of badly rotted teeth and gums that were obviously not cared for at all by their owners, who are probably from England. I’m horrified yet I can’t look away, kind of like when I’m at someone’s house and they’re watching American Idol.

Just when I can’t take any more, a hygienist walks in and calls my name. I brush the cobwebs off me and follow her to a secluded room. She directs me to sit in a chair that looks like it was used in the Inquisition. I oblige because I need dental care and I waited a long time to get here and at this point I’d sit next to Rosie O’Donnell as long as it got me what I needed.

She puts a bib on me, to catch the blood, and says, “Dr. Pellicle will be right with you.” Another euphemism that dental professionals use to disguise the fact that I will need to shave again before someone sees me.

“Where is he?” I inquire.

“He’s just finishing the 17th hole. He shouldn’t be long - the 18th is a par 3.”

Now I regret having left the magazine in the waiting room. I spend the next 45 minutes studying the tooth chart on the wall and contemplating what I’ve done right and wrong with my life. I definitely should have bought Walmart when it was $2.50 a share.

Finally Dr. Pellicle arrives, leans the putter against the wall and introduces himself. He examines my mouth for about 9 seconds and says, “Everything looks fine. Now Veronica will clean your teeth.”

That’s it? I’ve spent longer reading road signs. He gets paid $200K per year and the hygienists do all the work. No matter. If he says everything is fine then I have nothing to worry about, and all I have to do is relax while the hygienist cleans my teeth. Except I can’t relax because she cleans them with a Medieval sonic device that creates waves of pain as she scrapes along my gumline. I actually long for the days when hygienists used to bloody me up with metal hooks. Decades of trial and error showed that method not to be painful enough, so the American Dental Association paid Dr. Mengele to devise an inhumane contraption that can torture unsuspecting patients with little effort on the part of the person wielding it.

Seven hours later the agony is over. I look at my Inquisitor, who seems like such a sweet innocent person on the outside, and ask if perhaps she likes to club baby seals as a hobby. No, actually I thank her for her services, in much the same way that we thank police officers after they write us a ticket.