adulthood

I Went to the Dentist

So yeah, the fact that I had to include “go to the dentist” on my list of goals this year because it was the only way I was ever going to do it is a little embarrassing. But hey, it got me there, so oh well.

To be honest, when I walked in I felt like I’d forgotten how the whole thing worked. Did the cleaning come first? Or did they check for cavities first? At what point would a drill be involved in today’s visit?

Before I had time to sit in one of the waiting room chairs and try to recall the last time I’d been to the dentist—which ended up being so far back they had to search the archive files for my charts—they were calling me in.

“How are you feeling today, Kimberlee?” the woman asked as she walked me back.

I DON’T FLOSS,” said my guilty conscience.

“Fine,” said my mouth.

The woman sat me down in the chair and moved the levers up and down and back and up, until I was in position that was definitely less comfortable than before, especially now that I was looking up at a bright rectangular light that gave me flashbacks of the orthodontist.

Am I getting my braces off today?!

Nope. Maybe next time though. Come back in six weeks.

*walks back to the waiting room with a bag of dental party favors, a new set of wires that are nowhere near as inconspicuous as they promised, and a healthy dose of despair*

The woman clips a bib on me and leans me back even farther. For the briefest of moments I wonder if anyone has ever slid backwards out of the chair, but then she stacks some tools, gauze and whatever else she can fit onto my bibbed chest, and I realize that this countertop treatment must even out the gravity.

The doctor comes in and greets me and asks how I’ve been, even though we’ve never met, and I think she knows that, because she’s looking passed me at my chart, which shows it’s been a solid four seasons of Game of Thrones since the last time I was here. She takes a seat in her chair, next to me, her end table, and goes to work.

Recalling previous visits to the dentist, I wait for the terrifying metal tool she’s poking around my mouth with to make that sticking noise. The one that goes all metal detector at the beach when it finds a cavity—HERE’S ONE. AND HERE. AND HERE!

Much to my surprise however, nothing happens. My teeth are like a roll of knockoff scotch tape—they ain’t stickin’ to nothin’! Pride surges through me, and I picture them giving me an award for my superb brushing that protected my teeth all these years. But then the doctor leans back, slides her mask off and nods sympathetically.

“So it appears as though you have quite a few cavities, Kimberlee.”

Don’t you use my full name like you know me.

Apparently my teeth are “completely free of plaque” (#superbrusher) but my complete and utter lack of flossing caused there to be little cavities in between my teeth (#apparentlyflossingisforreal).

She then goes on to explain “the plan” as if my upcoming cavity intervention is as complicated as a corporate merger. I barely listen, only hearing every couple words as I wonder whether dentists are trained to sympathize with you, only to send you on your way and do a happy dance in the break room.

*dials phone*

“Honey, it’s me. Yes, I just had a patient with a good handful of cavities, go ahead and buy the boat!!”

I’ve now gone to two appointments to fill the aforementioned cavities. One of which left my mouth so numb I had to look in the mirror to put on chapstick. The other was so early in the morning I almost fell asleep, but I was so scared and vulnerable—what with the drills in my mouth and all—that I forced my eyes to stay as wide open as they can go which, picturing it now, was probably an incredibly scary sight for the dentist looking down at me.

So, some lessons learned here.

  • For real.
  • Go the dentist every year rather than every presidential term.

Hey, I’m learning.