About two and a half hours ago, I was sitting anxiously in my dentist’s office, waiting for my semi-annual cleaning. I’m always nervous when I go to the dentist and today was no different.
I’m not afraid of the potential pain – that’s never bothered me. Even that one time about 20 years ago when I had to get a filling and the shots never fully deadened the area. I can’t remember how many shots they gave me before finally saying they couldn’t give me any more and I had to get the filling sans deadening. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a masochist. I didn’t enjoy the pain. It was just a necessary thing and I knew it wouldn’t last too long. I also know it’s a very rare thing.
What actually makes me nervous is the “grade” I’m going to get. Will they scold me for not flossing enough (even though I floss every day)? Will I be in for a lecture because all of a sudden I have a whole mouthful of cavities that have appeared out of nowhere? Will I pass or will I fail? WILL I PASS…. OR WILL I FAIL?!?!?!
Of course, I know they don’t literally grade you. But that’s what it feels like as I sit there waiting. Actually, the whole entire day of my appointment has that anxiety. It’s like that time between when you do all your exams and you are waiting for your transcript.
I turned 49 a few weeks ago so it’s been a LONG time since I’ve waited for any transcripts. You’d think I’d be over it by now. But I’m not. I want to know. Aaaaaaaand yet, I don’t. Ahhhh…that great dental paradox!
Usually I sit there, mouth stretched wide with the hygienist scraping the plaque and tartar away, listening to see if I can figure out the verdict by the amount of scraping she has to do. “Hmmm…that didn’t take too long. Maybe I did good! Oh…nope. She’s just changing tools. Dang.”
Sometimes I get brave and I ask, in a feigned casual, not-that-I-really-care voice: “So…how does it look in there?”
It has been a VERY long time since the answer has not been a good one. So long, in fact, that I don’t even remember when. Even when I wasn’t flossing daily or having regular cleanings, they’ve told me that I should keep doing whatever it is that I’m doing. Needless to say, like any good cheater, I have never admitted my heinous hygiene habits. And now that I have good habits, I’m kinda like that person who always gets A’s on their tests, but invariably they swear they’ve failed.
So, even though I always get a good grade, I still worry. And, as I said, today was no different.
So you will understand my absolute joy and pleasure when, about 5 minutes into my cleaning, the hygienist – fully of her own accord – said…
“You have great teeth!”