Good Oral Hygene And The Art of Salemanship

Confession: I have always had an uneasy relationship with dentists and the dental profession. There’s just something about someone poking in your mouth and causing you pain whilst trying hard not to look up your nose that just doesn’t have me wringing my hands in delight at upcoming dental appointments. Apologies to any dentists or dental hygienists. As the Donald would say, it’s not personal it’s my oral pain threshold.

This week was one of those biannual dental check up weeks.  I’ve concluded that dentists are great sales people. How clever is it that they convince you to make the next appointment just moments after you have escaped from THAT chair and are basking in post dental after-glow?  Seriously, if I smoked, I would reach for a cigarette then and there! And having made the appointment for six months time (because the dental gods have been known to shine on occasion), you insert it in your diary and happily forget until about two weeks beforehand when your stomach reminds you that your trip to the torture chamber looms.

I have had the same dental hygienist for more than a decade. She’s great despite my forgivings about a trip to her torture chamber.  Leaving aside her plaque removal techniques (which of course are second to none), we have some great conversations. No, really..we do, despite the immobilization of my implement filled mouth and the taste of fluoride. You can say a lot with a simple, well-timed “ahamurf”.

My dental reluctance/phobia.. whatever you want to call it… had its genesis in my formative years when I became VERY well acquainted with my first dentist at the age of six. We had to drive over three bridges and an hour and half each way for each apointment and I had to take a friend. This was so because it was the only way my mother knew how to deal with my catatonic fear. My poor wit-ended mother had found the only dentist within cooee who was a child specialist.  I suppose I would have felt really special had I not always had the feeling like I was about to toss my lunch every time. This dentist was a rather formidable, orange haired lady who countered her sternness by wearing a dental coat covered in cartoon characters and the promise of a balloon after treatment. How’s that for high tech distraction? This relationship lasted until I was 13 when I was told that I had to move on.  As a graduation gift I got the opportunity to become acquainted with the BIG adult dentist.

Visions of Ms Sterntist and BIG adult dentist have stayed with me all of these years. They are not fond memories and I am happy to say I am replacing them with memories of Good Conversationalist Hygienist.  GCH always does an initial thorough exam… there’s some poking, then some prodding…the mirror swish and that blast of cold water. Treatment then ensues culminating in the absolutely AWFUL taste of fluoride. How is it that we live in the twenty-first century and have not come up with better tasting fluoride that one can rinse?

But just before the fluoride hit, GCH always delivers her pronouncement on my quality of oral care over the last six months. This always makes me nervous… yes, ma’am I really do floss every day, really. How ridiculous is it that a simple “you’ve been doing well lately, your mouth looks really good” makes me feel ten feet tall? But it does and I pass with honours. Let the angels sing, I have impressed my hygienist!

So contemplating my new found oral care goddess status, I arise from the chair and happily make my next appointment. Walking on air and notionally smoking my cigarette, I even pay for the privilege to be tortured. I have made my dental hygienist happy!

Photo from

Seriously, how good ARE these people?

Do you ever worry about impressing a health care professional?

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

18 thoughts on “Good Oral Hygene And The Art of Salemanship

  1. I always worry about impressing health care professionals. It’s one of the reasons why I avoid them as much as possible. I do go to the dentist on a regular basis, because I can’t stand bad teeth. But apart from that, I avoid doctors and psychologists and everyone else like the plague. Even the vet freaks me out a bit, because what if they judge me for having a sick pet?

  2. Who the heck would want to admit wanting to impress anyone but I have no shame? When you get past a certain age, you do anything an d everything to get good and PAINless service (you HOPE).

  3. My dentist is fabulous, and yet I can’t stand going there. I always tell her, “You are my favorite person I least like to see.” I think she understands. 🙂

  4. This is a great topic to blog about…..if you can bear recalling dental disasters and all the cash you’ve handed over during a lifetime.
    My dental “plan” is to just hope that an adequate number of teeth remain in my head until I drop off the twig. Sadly I don’t look as attractive as your little orange frog up there, but I’ve given up worrying about appearances.

    Entertaining read thank you and may your dental health always remain immaculate.

    • Good to see you in this neck of the bloggy woods, Guap.
      Not sure what your alternative is but these days the emphasis is so much more on prevention and maintenance rather than repair. This can only be a good thing.

  5. I have a terrible fear of dentists. I was getting over the fear right before we moved three years ago. i wanted to pack my dentist with me, he is wonderful and I have considered flying cross country just for check ups!! Glad yours is over for another half year. Great post!

  6. Great pictures and post. After seeing the eerie smiley face on the mask, I kept thinking of the Dustin Hoffman movie “Marathon Man,” where Sir Laurence Olivier played the former Nazi dentist, “Is it safe?” he would ask. Ooooh. My wife and I had lunch yesterday and our dentist was at the next table. I kept thinking he was watching me eat and chew, when he probably could have cared less. :>)

I would really love to hear what you have to say. C'mon.. you know you want to!

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