The time has come to break up with my dentist.
Not in the romantic sense, of course.
That would never happen, as he’s not even interested in women.
I know this because he once mistakenly grazed my…er…lady lumps with the back of his hand while adjusting my drool bib. Embarrassed to the core, he assured me, “Don’t worry…I’m batting for the other team.”
Is it bad that I was disappointed?
He might be kind of cute.
Which is not at all why I picked him.
No, of course not.
I’ve always had a thing for tooth doctors…in fact, my husband Scott almost became a dentist. Instead, he opted to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant, a choice which is fine by me.
Coming home with blood on your shoes after surgery is far more attractive than working with teeth all day.
On the other hand, the bill for shampooing the carpet is not so attractive.
But I digress. This break up with my dentist is purely on a professional level…you see, I’m sick of his empty threats.
Yes, my dentist uses scare tactics.
I should probably start from the beginning.
Upon moving to Seattle, I was delighted to discover a brand-spanking-new dental office a hop skip and a jump from our place. After walking by the street level windows I was won over by the practice’s impeccable interior design. Who cares about credentials or patient reviews when you have Morris chairs upholstered in designer fabric strewn about your lobby? Not this girl.
When I came in for my initial consultation, I was impressed by the Doctor’s personal photos hanging throughout the office, depicting his various travels to developing countries performing pro bono work.
By the end of my consult, I understood how exactly he was able to afford all of these work-related vacations. I would be spending no less than $3,000 out-of-pocket to pay for the work I needed done. I didn’t have dental insurance, and hadn’t been in for a cleaning in a few years, so there was some maintenance the needed to go down.
I know, I know…you should go in for a cleaning every 6 months. Normally, I would, but I had been self-employed (without benefits) and putting a husband through graduate school.
I’m blaming the six cavities (technically it was only three…but they were each shoved between two teeth) on my lack of dental insurance.
There also might have been a couple of pieces of candy involved.
But only a few.
I bit the bullet and dished out three grand. Not because I care all that much about oral hygiene. Not even because I was offered a 5% discount for paying cash up front.
I did it because of the custom fit bleaching trays and industrial strength teeth whitener, thrown in for free so long as I handed over my life savings for a few fillings.
My life quickly became entangled in a vicious cycle of lattes, Merlot and teeth bleach.
The things we do for the drinks we love.
After starting a new job that provided me with dental insurance, my financial relationship with the dentist was far less strained.
The same cannot be said for other aspects of our…um…kinship.
During a recent cleaning, I was slightly confused when a hyperactive hygeneist strapped a cuff around my bicep in order to take my blood pressure. “It’s a new thing we’re doing!” she said with more pep than a case full of 5-hour energy drinks.
How my blood pressure is relevant to teeth remains a mystery to me, but I went along with it. She seemed nice enough. The Energizer bunny then proceeded, without warning, to snap my head shot while still taking my blood pressure. This caught me off guard, and I’m sure the expression in my dental glamour shot is less than stunning. My blood pressure, which is usually so low it raises concern, was on the high side.
The very high side.
Call me crazy, but couldn’t flashing a bright camera light in someone’s eyes without warning during a blood pressure test produce such a result?
Apparently, the hygeneist failed to see the connection.
She did not fail to ask how my job at Men’s Health was going. Surprised she remembered my occupation with such clarity, I informed her I had left that job for a position at a new organization. We chatted about the details for a few minutes before she inquired about my trip to Hawaii, then checked to see if Jolie had lost that pesky 8 ounces and asked how my husband was liking his dodgeball league.
I soon realized she was reading “notes” about me from a computer screen.
Before I could say something, she offered to give me a lilac aeromatherapy hand massage.
I’m sorry, whatever happened to, you know, cleaning my teeth?
Despite being cavity free, the dentist was not too happy with my flossing habits. I try to floss at least once a day — but sometimes life just gets in the way. He warned me, in an extremely condescending tone, that if I didn’t shape up, my children would probably be born with debilitating birth defects.
He then suggested I sign up for a two-hour, $800 deep gum cleaning.
Being as I don’t plan on reproducing anytime soon, I
My sister-in-law happens to work as a dental hygeneist in Omaha. When I shared this story with her, she agreed that I probably didn’t need the cleaning, and that this guy was just trying to rip me off so he could take a trip to El Salvador or something.
In May, I received an email that pushed me over the edge. If I were to refer just fifteen new patients to the practice, I would receive a brand new iPad.
I don’t think I even have fifteen friends. At least not ones who clean their teeth.
This was starting to feel less and less like a medical facility, and more and more like a 5th grade fund-raiser where whoever sells them most Christmas wrapping paper wins a giant Troll doll.
Yet just last week, I returned to him.
Cut me some slack…I was out of teeth bleach.
It seems with each visit, the hygeneists grow exponentially more spirited. The man who took care of me this time seemed to have missed his calling in life–a male cheerleader who doubles as a human alarm clock, if you were curious.
Yes, it was that bad.
But he did do an excellent job of cleaning my teeth. And I might have cracked a smile when he performed the no cavity chant, complete with cartwheels and jazz hands.
But my lifted spirits sank the instant the doctor came in for my bi-annual floss lecture.
This time, he explained that according to a new study in Sweden, my flossing habits might mean I would never be able to have children.
Okay…first off? I’m Norwegian.
This of course means I never believe any conclusions drawn from a study performed by the Swedes. I’m wired to think this way.
And secondly? He talked about not having children like it was a bad thing.
Now I really don’t want to floss.
At least not until after my vacation to the Greek Isles.
When I shared the latest threat with Scott, he raised an interesting point.
“Then why do people with rotting or missing teeth always seem to get pregnant? I’m pretty sure they don’t ever floss.”
Your response, Dr. Empty Threats?
But I have been better about flossing. Not because I’m concerned about fertility, though.
Last year, we spent well over $1,000 to have Jolie anesthetized while six of her teeth were pulled.
Her tongue now sticks out, as there are no bottom teeth to hold it in place.
I guess you can teach an old
dog Katrina new tricks.
As a result, I am ashamed to admit that I have become one of those people who floss at work.
I know…it’s almost as bad as shaving at work. But the alternative is working away at my desk while my tongue hangs out.
He who shall not be named (yes, my Dentist has achieved Voldemort status) recommended I keep the floss in my car, but then warned me I should never floss while driving.
Does your insurance even go up after a DWF?
I’m not the type of person who wants to sit in a parked car and remove plaque for five minutes (that’s my car-dancing time), which is what led me to choose the office-floss option.
It actually hasn’t been that bad.
And I’m even looking forward to my $800 deep gum cleaning.
It’s not what you think.
After finding out my insurance would cover 80% of the procedure, I began to consider it.
Upon learning I would have access to two hours of laughing gas for a mere twenty dollars, I was sold.
That’s cheaper than happy hour, people.
And unlike happy hour, it’s perfectly acceptable at 7:00 on a Wednesday morning.