Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Serendipity at the dentist

I went to a new dentist for a cleaning this morning and some strange things happened: The hygienist said I had nice, clean, orthodontically straightened teeth. It wasn’t painful. I didn’t have any cavities. The visit was over before I knew it. Strange, right?

Let me explain: My immediate past dentist was one of those Park Avenue dentists (well, really Madison Avenue, but same difference), the kind where mostly rich people who don’t need to bother with silly things like employer-subsidized dental insurance go. They offer top-notch service, mostly, but also high prices. I wouldn’t have gone normally, but there was an arrangement whereby I fronted the money and was then reimbursed (sometimes months later).

Now these people tore me apart – literally and figuratively. They would tell me how bad my teeth and gums looked and they’d dig in with their knife-like metal scrapers to prove it. They would chastise me: I’d been a bad, bad patient for not flossing enough, and at the end of it all, they’d line me up for some additional drilling at a later date, and I got to pay an exorbitant fee for the privilege.

So, I’ve since made a concerted effort to floss more. Not every day, but almost. And then I walk into this new dentists’ office, and lie down in the chair, and what do you know? Either my extra attention had all paid off splendidly or they were pulling a fast one on me. I kept thinking the latter. Like I was in a Sonicare commercial or some twisted candid-camera version of it.

I wanted to say, “Take another look! There has to be some hidden plaque you missed. Don’t you want to tell me I still have the tell-tale signs of gingivitis?” But I didn’t. I just set up another six-month cleaning and walked out the door without having to pay a cent. Of course, I better not get cocky now and put off flossing again like I once did. Now I’m a grade-A-plus patient again with a record to uphold.

Oh, the pressure …

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