Every six months two of my sons and I go to the dentist for a simultaneous mass cleaning.
It’s easier to schedule, harder to forget and impossible get out of.
It means there are three nervous hygienists asking me to “confirm” our appointments for the month leading up to them, via text, email, phone call, and talking drum.
If for some reason we didn’t show up, the office could close down for a happy hour.
But I think they’d rather have my money.
The boys and I hold a running competition to see who is cavity-free each time; the winners get to go immediately afterwards to the nearest Starbucks for a huge sugary drink to wash the squeaky clean out of our mouths, and the loser has to go back for further pick poking, cattle prodding and oral needlework.
This month, youngest child lost.
Tooth number 20 and tooth number 29 required a two-surface resin based composite filling that involved numbing half of his face and half of my checkbook.
I waited for him in the reception area, watching HGTV on a plasma big screen (which I’m sure I paid for, plus a year of cable) until the kid’s mouth was restored to “pre-owned certified”.
He sauntered out, I paid up, and we headed over to the high school to drop him off.
He flipped the car mirror down and started feeling around his jawline.
“Mom,” he said, squinting at himself, “My whole chin is gone. I can’t tell I have ears. Where is my tongue?”
“Well, your dentist said he wasn’t sure he could work on both sides of your jaw in one appointment. I’m glad he figured it out so we don’t have to come back.”
“I had everybody’s hands, tools, lights, and torture devices in my mouth at the same time. I can fit a lot of food in my mouth at once, but I think this might have been a record for me. He said not to eat until I can feel my mouth again.”
Knowing what a deprivation that was, I said, “You don’t want to accidentally bite your tongue or your cheek. You wouldn’t even know you were bleeding. Then you swell up and can’t NOT bite yourself. Just wait.”
He stuck out his tongue. Then he used his fingers to arrange his mouth into a pleasant resting position, a roguish half-smile
“Well,” he said, resigned, “I have no way of knowing if there’s drool dripping out.”
“Are you telling me,” I asked in my Mean Mom voice, “that this little experience didn’t hurt? Did you learn a lesson here?”
“Yeah, don’t lose a contest. The dentist never hurts. He’s nice. Can we swing by Starbucks?”
I gunned it straight to the school and as the kid exited the vehicle, I resolved to slip a little note to the dentist next time we go in.
Dear Dr. M,
My adorable little sugar addicts are allergic to flossing. I’m lucky they take the fuzz off their teeth twice a week. Which is the most shaving they will ever have to do.
Can you please let them feel just a little pain for their lack of discipline? I think they’re old enough to take it.
I understand the song of your people is, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you, but I like iiiiit, but I like iiiiiit….”
However, I feel that your ‘gentle dental’ approach is more of a job security thing, and not quite the reality check it ought to be.
I would do it myself, but I think they send moms to jail for chasing kids with large drills and hypodermics.
And you are totally getting paid for this skill set.
PS: Next year, please take a portion of my check and invest in some new magazine subscriptions.
I like “O”.