Go easy on my teeth

Posted November 30, 2017

Go easy on my teeth

Years ago I used to be scared of the dentist. Now I have a new fear: the hygienist!


I thought hygienists were there to give your teeth a gentle clean. The dental equivalent of a wet wipe. But instead they come at you with instruments of torture. All that scraping and picking, in search of the dreaded enemy - plaque. With something that looks like a crochet hook. It’s gross. 


I’d been going to the same hygienist for a few years. A perfectly nice woman, despite the fact that she spends her time rooting around inside my mouth. I trusted her. Sort of. But on my last visit I discovered that someone had taken her place. 


The newbie was listening to the playlist on her phone when I walked in. On spotting me, she tried to turn the music off but hit the volume button by mistake. I felt the first stirrings of unease. Clearly I was booked in with a blunderer. 


Any problems with your teeth, she jauntily enquired. I mentioned a particular hairline crack on one of my incisors that the dentist was keeping an eye on. That was my code for take it easy. The subtlety was lost on her.


She hooked a tube into my mouth. For the water, she explained. Then I heard the whirring of an electric implement. I know what you’re thinking. Water and electricity. But no, I wasn't electrocuted. Mind you, that would have been preferable. At least I’d have been stunned.


The whirring noise sounded like the polisher. That’s odd, I thought. Why would she polish my teeth before she’d cleaned them? Did she realise she was working back to front? I never got the chance to question her. She’d already delved straight in. Enthusiastic; I’ll give her that!


It wasn't the tickly, circular movement of the polisher. More like a miniature jack hammer which she proceeded to run up and down the gap between each tooth. Needle sharp. I winced every time she hit my gum. On top of all that, the tube kept dislodging. Water sprayed everywhere - over my protective goggles and down my shirt. 


I tried to be the the plucky, polite Brit, saying nothing. But after five minutes I had to stop her. Too rough, I told her.

“Oh!” She looked genuinely shocked. “Well, if you’re feeling discomfort …

“You’re hurting me!”

“… I can do this manually, if you’d like.”

I took it she meant the ‘crochet hook’. My anxiety level ramped up at the very thought of it. Yet I found myself nodding.


I did, however, do the very British thing when it came to paying the bill. The receptionist asked if everything was fine and of course I said yes. I’m now booked in for a repeat visit in six months time. 



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