Saturday, January 03, 2009

Work Pleasure

If you're an introvert like me, you may have spent some of your formative years (um, like, ages 13 to 25) imagining that someone, a big-name movie director or photographer, would someday happen upon you while you were reading in a cafe or on the bus and say, "YES! YES! THAT is the face I have been looking for ALL MY LIFE! Come with me now, and I will show you new things." And you would fit into this person's artistic vision in such a new and amazing way it would be revolutionary.

I got a feel for what that must be like at the dentist the other day. I had been a little nervous to go to the dentist because it had been a couple years* since my last visit. I have never had a cavity and have generally had strong teeth, so I wasn't too worried about it, but with John's front teeth starting to cuddle with each other in an alarming fashion, and Maia showing a tendency for her permanent teeth to erupt behind her baby teeth, we figured a checkup might do us all some good.

I used to hate going to the dentist, but now I love it. Remember that awful gritty tooth polish and huge rotary toothbrush they used to do for the cleaning? This guy has a baking-soda and salt blaster that took two minutes and felt rather like having my mouth scanned by a Cylon. But in a good way. There was very little picking, because the blast takes care of most of it. The TV tuned to HGTV was a bit much, but at least it was muted. **

But the very best part was when the dentist, a so-wry-he's-dry businesslike man, took a look in my mouth for the first time. If you've never seen me, I will tell you that I have a big smile full of big teeth. I had seven years of orthodontia done, including tooth extraction and jaw widening with an appliance that looked something like this:

So this dentist looks in my mouth and just about jumps in. "Whoever did your's like..." He's so impressed he can't complete a sentence. "Who did this?" he manages, reverently.

I twitch my jaw to get him to move his hands. "I grew up in Omaha," I said. "I'm sure you don't know him. He died recently. Yes, I had a lot of work done."

"The work he did...." he trails off, and opens my mouth again. I feel like he's found a previously unknown da Vinci in there. "This is beautiful. This is...this is amazing. And I never give compliments." He snaps straight up, as if I have accused him of saying something nice. Then he melts again. "But this is really something else."

I was insufferable for the rest of the day -- despite the four cavities (my first) he then found my wonderful, perfect teeth.

* Like, five.

** Seriously, I love this guy; let me know if you're looking for a dentist and want his name.


  1. Oh No! Not the palate widener! I was terrified I would drop the little key that I used to crank it open a little further each day straight down your throat. Even though the key was tied to a piece of dental floss that looped around my wrist. What an awful experience for both of us.

  2. I know, just looking at that photo made me grit my perfect teeth. The grossest thing about it was the food that would get stuck on top of it, between it and the roof of my mouth. I still have the appliance and the key.

  3. Wow. I want to hear more. This reminds me, too, of when it had been two years since I went to the dentist. I had little babies, etc., and was busy. The people at the dentist's office must have said five or six times, "Well, it's been two years!" I thought, "There's no way that's a long time compared to some people! It really bothered me. Judgmental hygienists.

  4. I LOVE going to the dentist. Because mine always tells me how perfect my teeth are (no cavities ever, no dental work other than wisdom teeth extraction). I always wanted braces though (crazy, I know)
    And the tv tuned to HGTV? I'd be in heaven!!!!!!