Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Clutter-Free Dental Care?

This week I am on a staycation, aka a sanity break from work. And what exciting activity did I have planned for my first, long-awaited vacation day? I went to the dentist, cause I know how to par-tay.

by flickr user denniped

If you're thinking that I must feel differently about going to the dentist than the majority of the population, never fear. I hate the dentist just a much as the next person. Now though, my hatred has muted from the normal childhood fear of hating the dentist for fear of cavities, to absolutely loathing the forced interaction with whichever hygienist is stuck scraping my teeth this visit. 

Is dental hygiene a popular career for people who can't get into law school? Because I seem to be grilled about my oral hygiene habits on each visit by an over-eager hygienist who acts like she's a prosecuting attorney hell-bent on discrediting a witness during cross-examination. I will freely admit that I am not perfect in the mouthcare department. There are times I fall asleep reading before I brush my teeth at night. And while I floss fairly-religiously on week days, my weekend routine leaves a little to be desired (you should see my hair!).

Hygienist the Hun (aka HH): How often do you floss?

Me: Five days a week or so.

HH: And what about around your permanent retainer? Do you have problems flossing that? (said in a way that suggests I so neglect my mouth I may not have even noticed I have a permanent retainer.)

Me: No.

HH (looks gleeful): Do you have floss threaders?! (I can practically see her thinking 'A-ha! I have you now you nasty-non-brushing-disgusting-non-flosser! Because without them, there would be no way I could properly floss several teeth)

Me: Yes.

HH: (Glowers disbelievingly).

She then went on to explain about how my permanent retainer is attached to my teeth and how I should properly floss around it. At this point I should have probably asked for a mirror so I could see just how terrible a job I had done because the permanent retainer I've had since I was 13? Um, yeah, we've met. I've been flossing that bitch for 20 years now, so I don't need a lecture on how to do it.

But that wasn't all, I also got asked how I brush, instructions on how to brush properly since she suspected I completely missed my gums (again, no, last time I checked I'm neither 2 nor mentally challenged.). Then as I was leaving she gave me a package of said disputed floss threaders, "just to be sure I have plenty." WTF?

Oh, and when the dentist came, despite the hygienist's lectures and the stern warnings about "needing Doc to look at tooth #20, something is going on there!" the dentist said everything looked great. She also welcomed me to the "cavity free club" for another six months. High five, yo!

Now, I'm tempted to ask anyone who might still be reading if I'm the only one who gets the riot act from their dental hygienist, but I had a nice long run there with actual human beings who didn't treat all the patients like naughty kindergartners. But then that dentist sold the practice and moved. Jerk.

The other thing I hate about the dentist is the hard sell. Do you use Sensodyne Sensitive toothpaste? Not just sensitive toothpaste mind you, but this brand! Well, you should. Here, try some Listerine Zero with fluoride! We want you to start using this every night. Plus, the fluoride treatment hard sell by every single employee I came into contact with. And don't forget, we have the best prices in town on electric toothbrushes, they will change your life! It wasn't bad enough I had to hear the chick give the patient next door the same spiels, I got my own as well. So instead I say no, no, no and probably have a rep as surliest patient of the year. 

flickr: DESQie

I can't help it really. When I was a kid I went to an ancient dentist who was well past retirement age. His equipment was even older. He didn't have TVs to distract you. For entertainment I counted his ample nose hairs and tried to decipher if his hems and haws meant the drill was imminent or not. There wasn't a fancy suction tube, you spit in the sink next to the chair and watched it float down the drain. Dear god, do I miss that spit sink. My dentist didn't crack a smile until the very end when he declared me cavity-free and let me pick out a sucker before I skee-dattled the heck out of there. And he most certainly didn't load us with a goodie bag of unnecessary toothbrushes and miniature floss packages and a fricken envelope of floss threaders. And WE LIKED IT!

Ahem, sorry. I got a little sidetracked there. Where was I? Oh yes. Fluoride.

The fluoride thing is always a conundrum for me. Do ya'll go for the fluoride? I'm not sure where I stand on the whole fluoride thing, but, when in doubt, I try to stay away uncritical chemicals. I tried researching it a year or so ago, but found as much literature for as against. So in the meantime I abstain from the extra treatment, but still use toothpaste and other products with fluoride. Although maybe I should rethink that since when I was a kid they made use rinse with fluoride in school and I never had a cavity until my late teens.

Seriously though, am I the only one who has this much fun at the dentist?


  1. We don't have dental insurance, so we consider brushing and flossing regularly to be our insurance.

    So good so far as neither Linda nor I have had a new cavity for about a decade!

    Our dentist is great and never pushes anything on us. This is good since I am strictly functional when it comes to dental care - I don't really care what a tooth looks like, can it chew food?

    The hygenist spends more time talking to us about music and playing guitar than lecturing about tooth care.

    Congratulations on your cavity-free status.

    1. Wow, 10 year members of the cavity-free club? Nice! Sounds like you have found one of the good dental offices as well. I guess I need to go dentist shopping. Ugh.

  2. lol oh that all sounds so familiar! And the worse part is that the hubs and I see the same dentist. So she'll send nagging messages of "make sure Joanna flosses her permanent retainer" through him. And then she dumps a huge bag of tooth related stuff on me. I know I need to floss, but do I need twenty containers of the stuff to remind me?

    1. Thanks for the lol. I was going for funny rant with this post, but it seems I missed the mark. :)

      And really, does anyone not floss because we forget? Or don't know the importance? Didn't think so.

  3. Candi,
    I've probably been blacklisted by every dentist in Vancouver. Seriously, none of them will even take my money. I refused treatment for my son's painless decayed baby teeth (which they treat with crowns nowadays!!!). We took him religiously to get his teeth cleaned and x-rayed by an independent hygienist and followed the oral hygiene routine described by Dr. Ellie (dentist In NYC) on her blog. Guess what? His baby teeth fell out and perfectly healthy adult teeth have emerged in their place.
    Since then, we won't go to a dentist unless it is absolutely necessary.
    My hygienist, by the way, never lectures, but she does pretty much put me in a headlock and scrape as though her life depended on it. I guess that's what I have to put up with for avoiding the dentist. : )

    1. Crowns for baby teeth? That sounds so crazy! Good for you for refusing it.

      As I was there on Monday I began to question going for a check and cleaning every six months, but it is free.

      Your hygienist sounds like one of the good ones!

  4. Seriously, what's with all this up-selling?! I see it at doctor's offices too--extra tests and medications. Like with most things, I just ignore what the say and do what I want lol.

  5. Hmm. This may be the first time ever that I feel grateful towards my dentist and hygienist. I get a little reminder about the 'right' way to floss, but otherwise they're content to work in silence while I sit in unavoidable silence. I hate people who try to talk to me when I'm clearly incapable of talking (because they've got their fingers in my mouth!). I still don't look forward to the dentist, though.

    I use fluoride toothpaste but am a slacker about using mouthwash. The fluoride danger studies that tend to get cited are about huge amounts of fluoride, typically in China where regulations are...different.

  6. I know this is an old post but just wanted to add my endorsement of Dr. Ellie's system. I've had fantastic improvement of sensitive teeth by giving up Sensodyne and using Crest toothpaste and the 3 rinses she recommends.


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