October 25, 2006

In The Clutches Of The Tooth Nazis

Went to the dentist this morning.

The good news is that the Streak continues: rolling into the 4th quarter of my forty-first year, I still have zero cavities. Zip. Nada. Nil. This may be due to a Khan-like genetic superiority. Then again, I may have the Communists and their destabilize-the-West-through-water-flouridation plan to thank. Or, it might be that I haven't really touched sugar since I was about seven. Perhaps it's some combination thereof, but the record still stands, baybee!

The bad news is that they're out to get me. My last visit was about six months ago. Prior to that, I hadn't been in since Christmas of 1989. And somehow or other, I've got along fine all this time. Now, though, they're saying I need to come in every three months. The Uber-hygenist was an outright font of Doom and Gloom. After railing against the toothpaste manufacturers for putting out all sorts of tartar-control, anti-gingivitis, whitening products that actually do harm to teeth, she rounded on me.

"You drink coffee, don't you."
"Well, yes."
"A lot?"
"Yes, I suppose you could say that."
"Well. I can't possibly keep up with the staining on your teeth if you don't come in every three months. And if the staining gets out of control, it leads to plaque build up. And with plaque build up comes tartar build up. And with tartar buildup comes gum disease. And then you're in trouble."

I got the distinct impression that, if left to carry on in this vein, she eventually would have worked her way up to botulism and hydrophobia. To preserve a little peace, though, I promised I would start coming in more often. (I left off pointing out that my insurance doesn't cover her little cleaning sessions, so this is gonna cost me.)

But much worse, she started in about my wisdom teeth, of which I have two left. "Oooh, they're really hard for me to clean. And if they're hard for me, they're impossible for you." I gave a noncommittal shrug and thought I had headed her off, but I was wrong: she said the same damned thing to the dentist, so when she came in to see me, she started in immediately about an excellent oral surgeon she would recommend.

As Jerry Seinfeld might say, "I don't wanna have my wisdom teeth yanked."

Anyhoo, I told the dentist I'd think about it. I reckon this will push it off at least until my next visit. Whether I'll be able to get another extension after that, I really don't know. Perhaps it would be easier just to stop going altogether again.

Posted by Robert at October 25, 2006 09:53 AM | TrackBack

Heh. I recently went through the same thing. Except the dentist had to run home and get his dremel to get rid of the plaque around an old permanent retainer.

All doom and gloom about the wisdom teeth.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at October 25, 2006 10:53 AM

So did you cave?

Posted by: Robbo the LB at October 25, 2006 11:57 AM

"if left to carry on in this vein, she eventually would have worked her way up to botulism and hydrophobia." So are you saying she's a bit rabid?

Sounds like overkill to me. I brush and floss every day and haven't had a cavity since I started to (well, the flossing part, I always did brush). Of course, I don't have many spots left that aren't cavities.

Posted by: rbj at October 25, 2006 12:12 PM

"So did you cave?"

To the pressure from the dentist or the pressure from the voice in the back of my head saying "I DON'T WANT SOMEONE TO RIP MY TEETH OUT WITH A PAIR OF EFFING PLIERS!"

I'll let you guess.

Re: the more frequent cleanings thing: I'm in my third decade and also never had a cavity, but the way these folks talk, dental hygiene is an under-understood MAJOR HEALTH CRISIS. I get the feeling that they are trying to drum up business. Like maybe the dental market is oversaturated with competition or something. Strikes me as used car salesmanship.

Once every 5 years is just fine with me.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at October 25, 2006 01:02 PM

Wow, you guys ARE cynical.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at October 25, 2006 01:23 PM

The husband gets the same schpiel about his wisdom teeth every time he goes in. After consulting with an oral surgeon and finding out what it would entail, he decided against it. The next time the hygienist laid into him (which she conveniently did while she thought he couldn't talk back) he'd had enough. He pulled the suction thing out of his mouth, pushed her hand away and said, "So, basically you want me to have my jaw broken and thousands of dollars taking out of my savings to make YOUR life easier? I don't think so."

You would have thought that would be the end of it, but, no, they keep trying.

Posted by: Kathy at October 25, 2006 01:32 PM

Wisdom teeth are the biggest scam in the dental industry.

If they aren't bothering you, why would you have them out?

This is one of the surgeries where they ROUTINELY break your jaw. Oops - good thing you signed the waiver..... Do you really want to have your jaw wire shut for 6 weeks - and carry a wire cutter wherever you go in case you choke. Though how you can choke on clear broth and melted ice cream is beyond me.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at October 25, 2006 03:30 PM