My teeth are pawns in a dentistry racket

My dentist refuses to believe that I floss. She gets the hygienist to do her dirty work.

“How many times a week do you floss?” the hygienist asks, her thick Eastern European accent threatening.

“Every day,” I say. It’s the truth.

“You’re brushing properly?”

I sigh. She’s demonstrated proper technique before, like I’m eight, and given me an egg timer to ensure I get carpal tunnel from brushing for a full two minutes. I clock in at about a minute. I have a life.

“I brush four times a day,” I say.

“You should really consider getting an electric tooth—”

“I got one,” I say. “I’ve been using it for four months. I brush, floss, use Listerine, and even wield the mysterious rubber-tipped instrument you gave me. You’re telling me it’s made no difference?”

“Afraid not.”

They tag-team me, hovering over me as I cower in the chair, and convince me that I need root planing and scaling—words with harsh consonant sounds that suggest pain.

“Gum surgery?” I say.

“It’s not surgery, just a deep cleaning. No needles, no stitches; we use Orajel to numb the gums.”

A topical ointment sounds painfully inadequate if someone’s gonna be digging around my gums.

“We could use Novacaine,” they say.

The wisdom teeth have to go too, and I’ll need Invisalign, apparently. I start thinking of dentistry as a racket. Suddenly, I yearn for false teeth. Plop ’em in a cup of fizzy liquid at night, and you’re good to go.

“Don’t worry, you’re insurance will cover most of it,” the dentist tells me.

Most of it?? It’s bad enough that I have to endure an Inquisition-era technique, but I have to fork over cash for it too? It’d be cheaper to pay someone to knock my teeth out.


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