A couple of days ago I went for my now three times a year hygienist appointment at the dentists. Here, more than virtually anywhere else, I expect to be patronised and as I’ve got older I’ve noticed the tone become even more condescending.
I care for my teeth as well as anyone, I brush morning and night with the latest electric toothbrush, floss when needed and use those little toothpick things pretty well every day.
It’s never enough though, there’s always too much – is it tartar or plaque – behind my lower teeth. It’s been this way since I was a child, I remember my mum fighting my corner when asked how often I brushed when I was at the dentists all those years ago.
The appointment starts with a series of questions posed by the 20-something hygienist and her similarly aged assistant about my general health, medications, dental routine etc. I wearily give all the right answers – yes I brush twice a day, yes I use floss and those toothpick things.
I’ve noticed lately they try to catch me out by asking what colour my TePe toothpick is, it’s amazing how you struggle to remember things when you’re under pressure. I prepared this time and it’s definitely blue. All questions answered it’s time to lie back, open wide and await the humiliation that will inevitably follow.
‘Good Boy’ sticker
It’s not long before it’s clear that I’ve failed again as she’s uses the word ‘still’ to great effect as part of her admonishing feedback. Maybe I’m not paying attention properly but lately she’s taken to getting me to hold up a mirror so I can see where I’ve gone wrong. To make matters worse, this time she even got out an electric toothbrush to demonstrate how and where I should be brushing.
If my mouth wasn’t already full I’d point out that at my age I don’t really need to be treated like this. I also want to say that it’s because of people like me she’s in work and she should be grateful for the £42 I pay for this privilege. Instead I meekly acquiesce to everything she does and says, after all she has the power to hurt me big time very soon.
In goes the waterjet thing and the suction tube and then comes 15 minutes of quite serious discomfort as they probe, scrape and polish their way round my mouth barking orders as they go WIDER MR JONES, TOWARDS ME, RELAX YOUR TONGUE.
Occasionally I get told I’m doing really well and that she’s nearly done even when she clearly isn’t having only worked her way around a quarter of my mouth.
Eventually it’s all over and I’m made to solemnly agree to try harder in future. It’s all I can to stop myself asking me a ‘Good Boy’ sticker.