They start off with the chit chat. How was your day? How are the boys? Are you back to work this year? Oh, kindergarten? How nice. This is all just to put you at ease before they ask about their hidden agenda. The answer to “How many cups of coffee do you drink” is, “Mind your own business”.
I’m quite certain that dental teams attend a workshop in “mhmmm”. There are many different meanings behind all those little “mhmmms” and it is up to those of us on the receiving end to interpret them:
Option A: “not too bad, just a little plaque, well it has been six months”
Option B: “more tartar than I’d like to see, but it’s on those back teeth, that’s tricky”
Option C: “ok, no flossing has been happening here”
Option D: “The horror! I will be using every sharp tool I have on this tray”
We know, dental hygienists, we know.
Dentists and hygienists have also mastered the art of shaming:
“I’m sorry I have to keep going back to this spot, but there is just SO MUCH plaque.”
“Do you floss? Ever?”
“Here, hold this mirror and watch while I show you how you are supposed to floss, *dummy.”
Next comes the polishing stage which is almost the worst (fluoride rinse is the worst, and needs no further discussion). She’s polishing and rinsing and polishing and rinsing and I do my best to be a good patient, but all I can think is: “DON’T YOU SEE I AM DROWNING ON MY OWN SALIVA?! THAT SPIT SUCKER THING IS NOT A DECORATION – GET THE SPIT! GET THE SPIT!”
Okay, the worst is mostly over, but this visit I noticed a new tool. No, not the tiny instruments of torture they use for plaque removal, a Sales Tool. I’m guessing our dentist office recently bought shares in SonicCare’s parent company because as I’m getting poked, prodded, and scraped, she keeps reminding me that an electric toothbrush would considerably reduce all that plaque and make cleaning easier. When I don’t grunt agreement, she seems to find a little extra something that needs scraping on my already tender baby tooth (I still have 3 of them). Well, played, hygienist.
But the dental team is not the only one with a plan. I’m pretty wily myself (comes with being the youngest of four). You can’t just floss the night before, that’s no good. Floss once or twice a few days beforehand. Then you can truthfully say, “Well, I don’t floss EVERY day…” and trail off, just like that (take a second and practice, I’ll wait). Also, flossing a few days ahead of time will reduce the bleeding and toughen up those gums a bit. It builds stamina, trust me.
If you’re lucky and don’t have any cavities or abnormalities, don’t cheer or say “really?!” that just tips your hand. Maintain a cool veneer like you fully expected the appointment to go that way, because you are a flosser who drinks just the right amount of coffee and does not eat Sweet Tarts or Zingy Zaps before bed. Ever.
(*Dummy is said with the eyes, pay attention.)
So, what’s your deal? How often do you floss? (nevermind, no matter what, I’m going to assume you are lying).