My (Tooth) Brush With Death – Part I

I made the appointment for seven p.m., giving me plenty of time to have something to eat first. I figured if Jesus got a last supper, then so would I. Not that I’m comparing myself to Jesus. His beard was far more impressive than mine.

jesus christ, smiling jesus, happy jesus, pointing jesus, jesus with heart robe
Also? I’m never this happy.

In any case, I ate and then I prepared myself physically and mentally for what lay ahead.

See, a couple of years ago (yes, that’s right, years), two of my fillings on two of my upper left molars fell out. So I did what any normal person would do and I pretended it didn’t happen. And I started chewing with the right side of my mouth. For two years. But a few months weeks ago, the molars on my right side started to protest. I had no choice. I had to see my dentist.

I want to make something very clear. I am NOT afraid of the dentist. My dentist is a really funny guy and an excellent dentist. I am also NOT afraid of needles. I like to whine about them, but they really don’t scare me. I’m also not afraid of pain. I’ve given birth to three children and kept all of them. I laugh in the face of pain!

dentist tools, dental mirror, dental picks, sterile instruments
Bwhahahahahaha! See? I told you so.

No, the reason I avoid going to the dentist, even for a simple cleaning, is because they put their fingers in my mouth. Yes, I am aware they wear gloves. That doesn’t console me in the slightest.

Take last night’s appointment, for example. It started with a cleaning. The dental hygienist started by putting on the rubber gloves. As she did, I began thinking “She’s touched them. They’re not sterile anymore because she touched them with her hands when she pulled them out of the box. Ok, ok. Don’t panic. She washed her hands, you saw her wash her hands. But what about the people who work at the glove-making company? They touched the gloves when they put them in the box. Did they wash their hands first? Oh, stop it! They work for a glove-making company. They were probably wearing gloves. Probably. That’s enough! People don’t actually pull the gloves off the assembly line and shove them into the boxes. It’s all automated. Yeah, sterile mechanical arms do all the work. Breathe. It’s ok.”

I start to unclench my fists. And then I think some more.

“You  do know, though, that machines aren’t infallible and they do require people to fix and maintain them. That means people touch them. And you know they didn’t wash their hands or wear gloves. And just for fun, think about all the repair men you’ve ever seen. Now think of their hands. Touching the glove-making machines. And what if the repair man had no personal hygiene habits to speak of? Why should he care if he’s dirty and smelly, since he’s just walking around a big old factory devoid of other human beings that would require him to maintain at least some semblance of propriety? Right? I bet he doesn’t even pretend to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom. And I bet his name is Joe Bob, or Billy Bob. And he walks around in his dirty overalls with a dirty handkerchief hanging out of his back pocket, except you know he doesn’t call it a handkerchief or even a hankie, no, oh no, he calls it a snotrag and he uses it to blow his nose and he doesn’t wash it and then he touches the glove-making machines!”

woman dentist, rubber glove, surgical mask, blonde woman, dental hygienist
And then the hygienist put her fingers in my mouth.

She. Put. Her. Gloved. Fingers. In. My. Mouth.


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