The Thrills of Adulthood Part III: Dental Appointments

8 Feb
This post is part of an accidental series I apparently have, entitled “The Thrills of Adulthood”.  Check out previous versions here- The Thrills of Adulthood and The Thrills of Adulthood Part II: My Palace of Filth

Those are the eyes of a man you can almost trust.

I started this morning off swimmingly, with a trip to the dentist.  Let’s call him Ned.

My first in six years, folks.  I’m not ashamed to say it.  Listen: that crap’s expensive.  On the list of things to pay for as a young, struggling, adult larva, having a middle aged white guy scratch at my enamel with a metal hook and give me a live demonstration on how to pull string through my teeth isn’t at the top of them.  It’s not that I don’t think it’s important.  It’ s just that when you peer inside the wallet of a mid 20-something, you don’t find much.  All of it has already been wrestled out of our grimy little clenched fists for things we never knew we had to pay for before.  Like car insurance and oil changes and work clothes and groceries and appliances.  Some of my most sobering moments in life have been those in which I have to purchase something that is absolutely unexciting but necessary to higher adult functions.  Like kitchen sponges.  Or batteries.  Or a brand new shiny set of car tires, when I’d rather spend that money on an iPad.  Or a kiddie pool full of long noodles.

Yesterday Dave bought a new white board for us and I convinced myself that it was the most romantic thing that had happened to me in our entire relationship.  I cried.  There were real tears.

Anyway, adulthood is expensive.  And I haven’t even started to have babies yet.  Lord help me.

So I’m sitting in Ned’s dentist chair, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to infer from his handing me a cup of water and holding a funnel beside me (it’s not really intuitive, folks), when he begins to make me feel like a terrible person.  He starts to tell me how people die from bad teeth, how it’s linked to many diseases and deaths, and that he’d like to talk to me about my process.  All this in spite of the fact that I didn’t have a single cavity or much plaque to speak of.

My brother got me an electric tooth brush for Christmas (also a clear indicator of adulthood).  I expected him to give me a certificate or something.  I guess they only do that for kids, which I think it preposterous. Excitement over receiving certificates knows no age limit.

So then the Nedster starts going on about how the real goal after I eat should be to get rid of any of the food that’s left in my mouth.  You know, the little bits and pieces you savor as they swim around for a bit.  He believed that every time I put something in my mouth, drink included, I should then rinse or brush whatever is remaining away.   In fact, he so believed that this was necessary to my dental hygiene that he said I should steer clear of any “hard to clean foods” like cookies.

He went straight for the cookies.  Heartless.

Oreos, he said, are the worst.  Because even if you rinse afterward, you only get about half of it.

I can tell you right now, I’m not going to do that.  Get all the food out of my mouth after I’m done?  What about aftertaste, Ned? What about relishing? What about the sweet satisfaction after you’ve had a nice portion of something you’ve been craving for a long time.  What, am I just supposed to sprint and brush away the satisfaction? Good God, man – don’t you have a heart?!

I ate a small Dove chocolate square about ten minutes ago and my tongue can still remember the silky milk goodness on its surface.

But then I realized he’s playing a trick on me.  He probably loves Oreos.  If I would have looked closer, I might have even found a few crumbs lingering on his eye teeth.  But he’s realized that telling people to floss just isn’t working.  People will always do ever so slightly less than they really feel they should.  So he’s decided to change the game and tell people to do more.  If I’m busy feeling unhygienic and sad because I’m not rinsing and brushing after every snack, I’ll tell myself that I should at least floss.  I mean, I’m already slacking in the rinses – I don’t want to risk death because I also didn’t floss, do I?

I admire his wit.  I do.  I recognize this tactic from my childhood: asking to stay out until 10 because then I’ll get to stay out til 9 and all I really needed was 8? Yeah, I remember that. It’s very effective.  Nicely done, Ned! No wonder I bought your services instead of a pool full of noodles or 18 cases of chocolate milk that I’d have to brush away after drinking.

Speaking of which, I should probably go floss some of this Dove chocolate out of my mouth. 


39 Responses to “The Thrills of Adulthood Part III: Dental Appointments”

  1. Amy Stutznegger February 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    You should move to England! Nobody goes to the dentist and nobody gets braces because it costs too much 🙂 They understand your pain….


    • Michelle February 9, 2012 at 2:06 am #

      Actually, most people go to the dentist here. We have the NHS, so it’s cheap to free, depending on your situation and age. I got braces for free when I had my son.


      • egills February 9, 2012 at 4:35 am #

        Actually although we have the NHS it’s very rare to find a good NHS dentist…

        I’m terrified of the dentist ( years of being a twin and having to have extra fluoride treatments ).

        p.s. the purse doesn’t look much better when you reach my age ( in fact if you take into account the mortgage etc it’s probably negative money ).


        • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

          I’m confused about the twin comment (awesome!) and the extra fluoride treatments. Any chance you’ll mosey on back and enlighten me?


      • Amy Stutznegger February 9, 2012 at 8:05 am #

        Thanks for clearing that up! I had always thought dentists weren’t as big, now I know better!


        • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

          ditto – embarrassing Americanisms.


      • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

        Free braces?! That’s awesome. I simply went without. In fact, that’s one of the questions I was asked when I went. “Have you ever considered braces?”

        …”Have you ever considered making them affordable?” 🙂


  2. Jules February 9, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    That man isn’t wearing any gloves or a mask!! OSHA would like to have a word with that “dentist”.

    Ever hear of a waterpik? That’s what I use! These braces get in the way of string floss.


    • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

      He said something about a waterpik as if it were common knowledge and I didn’t have any idea what he meant. But now I googled it and all is well. 🙂


  3. Michelle February 9, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    All I could think about when I saw this post was, “Why isn’t that man wearing gloves? WHY ISN’T THAT MAN WEARING GLOVES?!?!??!!!?!? For the love of God, get your fingers out of that woman’s mouth! ” Just…ew.


    • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

      hahaha I didn’t even notice. I was too taken by the perfect balance of calm intensity in his eyes.


  4. knotrune February 9, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    He sounds like he’s OCD and wants everyone else to be, to spread his misery! I’m sure if he had the option of swallowing food pills instead of actually using his teeth for what they were made for he’d take it!


    • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      But his teeth would be beauuuuutiful.


  5. Katherine Gordy Levine February 9, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Reblogged this on Emotfit's Blog and commented:
    LAUGHED AND WANTED TO CRY. Thank you JackIe for giving me a hood and something to think about. My parents were poor and proud, the next door neighbors were poor but not too proud to go to the dental clinic, In my family you were expected to suck up tooth pain. My first trip to the dentiest was as a 12 year old, had to have three root canals. That was also the year I got glasses and discovered trees did not look like lollipops but that most people saw the individual leaves. think my father must have sold some advertizing for his news paper that year, think we also got a new second hand car. A blue Ford station wagon. A word to those claiming 99% hood. Have you had good dental care? Maybe you need to think again about how poor you are. I can’t afford the implants, but still think I am a 1% and will not stop ranting until dental care is free for all. Just a CRANKY OLD LADY, but sometimes she speaks the truth. Thank you again Jackie.


  6. Katherine Gordy Levine February 9, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Re-blogged it with some usual Cranky Old Lady thoughts. Thank you for this. When are you publishing your book. You know there are people who say they turn blogs into books, probably charge more than we have. I think Word Press suggests a way to do it on your own. You have a very marketable comedic voice unlike Crank Old Lady’s ranting. Stay strong, it is hard out there in adulthood. Secret: Old age is harder, so enjoy what you can.


    • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

      Thanks for reblogging! You know, I get asked the book question a lot. And while I’m flattered, I have to point out – in Internet terms, you really have to be cranking in the hits to be relevant enough for a book. If people can read for free and they don’t, why would they pay? I think Internet fame has to preclude the hardbound sort. Yes?


  7. Katherine Gordy Levine February 9, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Also shop around a bit, there are non-greedy ethical guys out there.


  8. athensboy February 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    The best ever! Thanks for being a good writer. And for sharing your thoughts about “dentists”.


    • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

      Thanks for reading – and the kind compliments. I must admit I feel without my mojo since reducing from one a day to once a week 🙂


  9. name February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Found this today on a site I love:

    thought it was relevant.


    • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      As always, thanks. I’m a consumer of relevant links.


  10. Michelle February 10, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    Guess it depends on where you live. We’ve got some good NHS dentists in my area. I go to the dentist more now than I did when I lived in the States.


    • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      This is the umpteenth time I’ve seen “NHS” and wondered what it meant so I finally looked it up. Thanks for enlarging my brain.


  11. Sleepless Knight February 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Went to a new dentist 2 weeks ago… Worst damn dentist I ever saw! She simply poked my mouth and said “Yes. Good Teeth. Strong!”

    What? No they damn well aren’t! One of them broke a few months ago and she didn’t even seem to notice!

    I don’t trust them.


    • Jackie February 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      “Yes. Good Teeth. Strong!”?? Was it a cavewoman or a dentist?


      • Sleepless Knight February 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

        Don’t know where she was from, but she didn’t speak much English. That is pretty much verbatim though.


  12. ML February 13, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    I think that how often someone flosses and brushes depends on their mouth. I personally have pretty sensitive teeth and gums, so I only floss and brush once a day, at the same time, at night. And it’s working out pretty well. I also use sonicare, which works way better than ye old basic tooth brush. It’s worth the money.

    I’ve always had to be very wary of my tooth situation – I have had many cavities in the past, but I have avoided it for years by just figuring out what works for me. So don’t feel pressured — the last time I went to the dentist they said the same thing about brushing after lunch, etc. However, if you brush too often or too quickly after eating, you’re just rubbing the enzymes from digestion into your teeth, which can break down enamel as well. So if you managed to not have cavities in the last six years w/o regular cleanings, you’re probably doing something right.

    That said, flossing is pretty important.


    • Jackie February 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

      I have an Oral B whatsit that my brother got me for Christmas. I actually like it. Mostly because it times me and I’m all for making ordinary tasks into fun games. Here are my takeaways from you: floss more, don’t worry about the rest. I like it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.


  13. egills February 13, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Hi Jackie,

    Dentists back in the 70’s thought that because the mum only has so much calcium to give to her unborn child, multiple birth children ( I have a twin brother ) were given fluoride treatments to supplement the teeth and help protect against decay.
    Fluoride treatment is a horrible paste that was pumped around the teeth, it tastes vile and having a nose that doesn’t work properly meant he had to stop continuously so I could breathe. I can still remember the taste even now 30+ years later…


    • Jackie February 13, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

      That sounds absolutely terrible. Oh, dentists in the 70’s. Silly geese.

      Thank you for enlightening me. Methinks Wikipedia couldn’t have done quite the fab job you did. And I’m truly sorry for the way they scarred you. Go back to the 70’s and give them a can of Whoop Ass.


  14. pegoleg February 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Wait just a gosh, darn minute here. I commented on this post, at great personal cost because I was in Florida, trying to figure out how to tippy-tappity-type in words that made sense on my new, tiny, tablet computer, while hunched in the rain outside the community center in my parents’ senior complex, which was the only place I could get Wifi. It was something clever and snarky about how your dentist looks hot.

    Where’d that comment go, hmmm?


    • Jackie February 13, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

      I don’t know – I thought at first that perhaps I had some sort of clever/snarky comment autospam filer. But then I realized that all your other comments have come through just fine. So obvious joke about inability to use flashy new computer while at senior center aside, I truly didn’t receive it and searched through my spam, trash, and did a pegoleg-specific search just to make sure.

      The Interwebz ate it.


  15. Bradford dentist February 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    Avoid forgetting to floss each day. Leave the floss sitting out on the bathroom counter, or put a little sticky note on the mirror. Make a point to do it each day for a month, by which time it should become a habit.


    • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:16 pm #


      fine. 😛


  16. Emily February 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    The entirely shallow truth of my dentist experiences is that I go to one who is complete eye candy. (Actually my mom and I both do. For the same reason.) It just makes me want to floss more. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a nice person and a pleasant dentist. And has a completely attractive son I love hearing about. I can only afford to go once a year and usually I ask for that for Christmas. Or a donation to the Keep-Emily’s-Teeth-Camera-Ready Fund (read: ten dollars for my birthday, which coincides with Christmas, which coincides with my yearly appointment). No cavities and a pleasant reason to floss? Sign me up. … but then I’ve always been motivated by a pretty face. 😉


    • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

      I don’t want anyone I’m intimidated by to be a service provider – and that means attractive people. Instead of taking better care of myself, I would just never go out of fear.


  17. Emily February 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Also. Does anyone else think the dentist in that photo looks like Robin Williams in Flubber?


    • Jackie March 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

      I would totally go to the dentist if he was Robin Williams. But I’d talk while his fingers are in my mouth, trying to convince him to return to entertaining people.

      After he finishes my teeth.


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