What’s Your Biggest Fear? Mine Is The Dental Hygienist

If you read this blog regularly, you will know by now that because I suffer from anxiety, I am scared of pretty much everything. (Spiders, anyone?) That’s why, quite frankly, picking my biggest fear for this post left me pretty spoilt for choice.

More obvious choices included ScoMo getting back into power at the next election, or Trump getting approval to build his damn wall. But I can honestly say that it neither of those horrible things is my biggest fear.

I will reserve that award for the dental hygienist. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that I would happily endure a nightly rendition from primary-aged school children learning how to play the recorder than an annual visit to my hygienist.

Since I started taking proper care of my teeth – a wobbly tooth will do that – I have suffered fewer cavities. However, poor gums (and what a friend of mine delicately calls “old bird teeth”) – another gene defect to blame my parents for rather than my copious consumption of cigarettes and sugar – means that every six months or so, I require the special care of a “deep clean” with the dental hygienist.

Sounds like something nice, doesn’t it? The term evokes the kind of pleasure you associate with a “deep” massage, or someone with “deep” pockets… or other “deep” things.

But trust me, it’s not nice at all. The “deep clean” is a form of torture stolen from Guantanamo Bay by the dental industry – who rejected it for being inhumane. It is an optional part of the service that I recommend you don’t mess with unless a) you are a sadist, b) your teeth are falling out, c) the tartar build-up around your teeth is affecting your speech or d) the foulness of your breath (rather than your personality) is losing you friends.

No matter how affable your dental hygienist appears – and they do have an uncanny ability to pretend they are your new best friend – be prepared for a psychopath. Indeed, if an urge to inflict pain without suffering the emotional consequences of that behavior, is not the reason behind their choice of profession, I have to commend them. For there are few jobs that cause quite as much human suffering – legally – other than in government.

I imagine that hygienists get a similar sense of satisfaction as coal-miners or those sickos, (Cough *my husband), who like pimple-popping videos on youtube – whilst anxious patients like myself lie at their mercy in the chair, terrified of flying tartar, or publicly peeing myself.

My irrational fear is mainly linked to THAT drilling sound made by the hygienist’s excavating tools. It is the reason I pay an absurd amount of money to get drugged up, dropped off and picked up at my visits; why I listen to “Weightless” during the procedure, and why I select the quieter pick-ax as my hygienist’s choice of weapon.

However, none of these strategies truly disguises the fact that a stranger – who may be having a period, or an overreaction to an innovative and empowering advertisement by a razor company – is hacking away at my aging teeth.

No pain, no gain, I suppose, and in all honesty, I’d love to be able to say that the experience is worth it. However, the joy factor, (thank you Marie Kondo), to be extracted from a minimum $200 spend with a hygienist, simply cannot compare to a trip to the hairdresser or your massage therapist, say, for the equivalent amount of dollars.

You never know, I might change my mind. When I can still bite the old man in our aged care home.

What’s your biggest fear?

What’s Your Biggest Middle-Aged Fear?

Aside from losing your car in the car park, walking around with your skirt caught in your Bridget Jones knickers in public or having spinach in your teeth when you’re talking to someone hot, what are your biggest fears now you’re getting older?

Mine is still the dentist, in spite of my propensity for ALWAYS having spinach caught in my teeth whenever I talk to someone ‘hot’.

English: Using Internet Explorer, I made a clo...
English: Using Internet Explorer, I made a close up of the chimp in File:Knoxville zoo – chimpanzee teeth.jpg, and that file is licenced cc-by-2.0. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my experience, going to the dentist is worse than getting on the scales after three bags of Snickers Pods.

Before we moved, I used to see this lovely dentist who had a poster of a map of the world on the ceiling above his torture chair – I think it was supposed to distract you from the pain.

It didn’t, of course.

But luckily he took pity on me. He obviously came to the conclusion that using the screeching, scraping drill that made my insides somersault and my nerves jangle, (rendering me completely irrational), was actually a potential health and safety issue, and so he settled for just picking away at my tartar with the the mini pickaxe thing.

The only reason I went to the dentist at all was to be a good role model to the kids. It still astounds me the level of sacrifice us parents put up with for their kids.

I hate my teeth now. When I look in the mirror at my old bird teeth these days, I shudder to think of the money my father parted with to get me braces in the days when braces were still avant-garde.

And I did have straight, model teeth….for a while.

But as my body changed shape so did my jaw, and then my teeth moved and created all these gaps and gum pockets, and irritating food crevices.

A huge part of my daily exercise regime is spent picking food out of my teeth – it’s really attractive.

Obviously, I thoroughly vetted my new dentist before I allowed him anywhere near my phobia last week ie. I told the receptionist that I became psychotic in the dentist chair and then asked her directly if they still wanted my money.

I let NC go in first, because I figured that witnessing her pain might alleviate some of mine.

When they gave me the new patient form, where I had to mark on a scale of one to ten if I was going to enjoy the experience or shit my pants, I marked 10.

So he had been warned, before I dragged my feet into his chamber.

The check up part was the usual bitch fest about the state of my teeth? What happened to positive reinforcement? And what the fuck is an occlusal or oclusal watch anyway? I think he was just trying to impress me with his fancy schmancy dental school vocab.

Then, without warning, he brandished the pickaxe in front of my face and started gauging between my teeth – I’m still not sure if he was trying to test the pain threshold of my gums or to search for left-over Mussaman Curry.

My gagging reflex is probably my best reflex these days, but it can prove problematic at the dentist. I mean, I gag when I put the parking ticket in my mouth for those few seconds between entering a car park and parking my car.

So having to keep my mouth open for something heinous is awkward. As the old man knows.

I gagged when he did the check up, I gagged when he did the X Rays and then I gagged again when the dentist’s assistant pushed that sluicing tube a millimetre too far down my throat.

When he suggested doing a ‘clean’, that was all my body needed to spasm, shut down and lose complete control of my bladder.

In the word association game, we all know that ‘clean’ is synonymous with that scraper thing which has a particularly odorous whine that harmonizes so nicely with nerve pain.

I took a rain check. I don’t need to spend $100 on pain when Kurt can provide it for free.

What’s your biggest fear?