I went to the dentist today. I think dentists are brave people. I imagine myself not only looking into, but putting my hand in, someone else’s mouth – someone I am not intimately acquainted with – and it isn’t a pleasant thought. Kissing a lover is different – I guess it’s because you can’t actually see where you are putting your tongue. But staring directly into a gaping maw is a bit like being eaten by a shark, I guess. There’s just something unnerving about it.
I prepared myself before I went. There are people who will scrub and degrease their house before the weekly cleaner arrives, presumably so the person engaged to do the actual cleaning doesn’t realise how messy they let the place get. I was like that. I worried about what I would have for breakfast – I didn’t want any tell-tale breath putting the dentist off his game. I brushed and flossed and gargled assiduously.
I even trimmed my nose hairs. Very important that last one. Let’s face it, the dentist spends a lot of time staring right up your nose. I’m sure he or she is not especially interested in seeing a forest up there. It’s not fair that the dentist is wearing a face mask, so you can’t see what undergrowth they may be cultivating. Truth be told, they probably wear masks not for hygiene purposes, but so they don’t have to mow the lawn every second day.
Actually, while we are on the subject: it is harder to trim your nose hairs than you think. I presume you’ve had to do it sometime, especially if you are male. I did know a woman once with rather long nose hair. We dated a few times but every time I looked at her there were little tufts protruding from her nostrils and I knew that it wasn’t going to work out. There are no tactful words to use when telling someone they have hirsute nares – (or maybe they are the words to use, then make a quick exit while they reach for a dictionary).
Anyway, trimmed and ready, I went to the dentist. I hadn’t been to this one before. I had moved into the area a couple of years ago and had neglected finding a new dentist for that long, so it was high time. He was pleasant, we got on well. But he seemed to dig around for an awfully long time in my mouth. I got a bit ashamed at the amount of cleaning he had to do, scraping away with that hooked thing, and applying polish that tasted like the strongest toothpaste ever. I knew it had to be good stuff, it tasted like it.
What amazes me about dentists is the wonders they can accomplish with only a small orifice to work in. Although there are tighter spots one can go, especially when it’s time for that prostate exam – hey, guys? That’s fun! They also manage to do it upside-down and back-to-front, looking in a tiny mirror. Up is down and left is right in the dental care world. I don’t know how they do it.
So now I sit here with sparkling clean teeth and a sense of moral cleanliness. I’ll be back in twelve months to do it again. I am 55 years old and have all my own teeth, and I intend to keep them.