I approached today’s trip to the dentist with more than the usual degree of trepidation. After all, I thought that in addition to having my teeth scraped, Stanhope Family Dentistry was poised to hit me with a few new wrinkles.
It all started more than a week ago when I received a text message reminding me to make an appointment for my regular check-up. Text message? Holy crap! Who signed me up for that? I decided my best bet would be to ignore it and maybe they’d think they had the wrong number, but it was no use because they followed up the unanswered text with a phone call. And oh my god, it wasn’t Sue, who’s accustomed to dancing deftly around my quirks, but a STRANGER whose voice I didn’t recognize!
Well you know how it is in a situation like that. I wanted to blurt out, “OH MY GOD, WHAT DID YOU DO WITH SUE???” but of course I didn’t say that, because that would have been rude. Instead, I went ahead and made an appointment while trying to disguise the fear that I felt. I mean, nobody wants to let a stranger know that they’re afraid and completely unnerved by the apparent loss of their personal receptionist.
By making the appointment, I knew my fate was sealed, and somebody at the dentist’s office wanted to make sure I didn’t forget it. They sent me not one, but TWO text messages to remind me that I was doomed.
Today, while sitting in the parking lot, I tried to steel myself for the possibility that I’d see a stranger at the reception desk, but thank all the gods that it was Sue herself who greeted me when I trudged through the door! She said she must have been drafted for some other onerous duty — like cleaning out the spit tubs — and that’s why she hadn’t called me personally.
I felt so relieved that Sue was still there that I was halfway down the hall to the torture chamber before I even realized it. Sue handed me over to Nancy, the dental hygienist, who was wearing a Christmasy shirt with the word JOY printed in big letters. I immediately took a liking to Nancy because any dental hygienist who wears a shirt like that must be a kindred spirit, meaning we share the same sick sense of humor. I turned to say something about it to Sue, but she had already fled, apparently having no desire to witness what was about to transpire.
I’ve done this enough times now that I wasn’t surprised when Nancy told me she was going to take a few x-rays. She hauled out the lead-lined leather apron, which always makes me wonder what’s happening to those parts of my body that aren’t protected by the shield. Nancy jammed the red eggbeater thing into my mouth and ran into the other room to hit the button. Ever notice how they all do that? Evidently none of ’em want to be exposed to whatever hell is being unleashed from the machine. I imagined my face curling up like a strip of bacon in a cast-iron skillet, but a surreptitious touch later assured me it was no worse than medium-rare.
With cooking class out of the way, Nancy turned on the Mouth Hoover, that hissing suction cobra that people like her will coil inside your cheek until it sucks every last drop of spit from your quivering body.
Moving quickly now, Nancy pushed aside my tongue with practiced fingers and probed that spongy area underneath, which is sort of like the spot beneath your sofa cushions where you find all the coins, unexploded popcorn kernels and kid toys before you exclaim, “How the hell did THAT get down there?”
Well, I don’t know what Nancy found underneath my sofa cushion because she was polite enough not to say, but I didn’t have much time to worry about it because she was already hauling out the drill. She gave my teeth the once-over just to sort of set the tone, I think. It didn’t hurt at all, but the sound was like 10,000 cats in heat, and the biggest problem I was having was wondering what to do with my hands. The dentist’s chair has very short armrests, which is probably by design so that patients like me can’t grab onto them and tear the upholstery. I clasped and unclasped my hands nervously and wanted to sit on them, but wouldn’t do it because I was afraid any sudden movement might set the drill to boring a hole straight through the back of my skull.
The drill was going ZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE as it irrigated the inside of my mouth with a fine spray that was far more effective than a 50-foot soaker hose from Home Depot on a hot summer day. By the time Nancy finished my stalactites and started on my stalagmites, the wind from the drill’s speedy passage was making whitecaps on the lake that was forming inside my mouth like some subterranean pool in the unexplored depths of Carlsbad Caverns. The Mouth Hoover was now in overdrive with a constant SLUUUUUUUUUUUUUURP, and from somewhere, music was playing, though with the stereoscopic sound emanating from my oral cavity, I couldn’t quite make out the tune, but that didn’t keep me from praying that it wasn’t anything cheerful.
Nancy raised me up and told me to rinse out with something that looked like a cup full of Windex. I had to steel myself to keep from gagging as I hawked into a strange sink. Closing my eyes is probably the only thing that kept me from yakking.
After some obligatory manual scraping and polishing with 60-grit drilling mud, the worst was over. Soon Dr. Thompson walked in, and I tried to prepare myself for whatever bad news she was bringing with her. But huzzah! No cavities, and Dr. Thompson said I was doing okay, but could improve with my flossing, which I already knew.
Nancy removed my bib and escorted me back out to see Sue, now sitting with my old pal Debbie, who told me I was due some Patient Appreciation gifts, which were in addition to the new toothbrush and toothpaste I’d already received! I mean, wow, they were smiling and having a good time, obviously thrilled to have me out of their hair again for another six months, though they were careful not to say that!
They even let me choose my own gifts, and here’s my swag:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Stanhope Family Dentistry really is the best dentist’s office in the galaxy! Not only are they friendly, but they go out of their way to make sure your visit is as painless as possible. Look, if they’ll put up with me and my blogging, they’ll put up with you no problem! So next time you’re in the mood for a good tooth scraping, go to Stanhope Family Dentistry. Tell ‘em I sent you!