Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dental Awkwardness

I had a dentist appointment yesterday, just a routine cleaning, but the actual dentist cleaned my teeth instead of a dental hygienist. He did not do a very complete job; he didn’t do any scraping at all and only very perfunctory polishing, flossing and stain removal. I drink a lot of tea, and like my teacups, my teeth get stained. My normal hygienist Irina does a very thorough job. She is patient, meticulous, and hardworking. She will keep me in the chair for an hour if she has to. Dentist had me in and out inside of 25 minutes, and only deigned to remove the stains from the front of my teeth, and not the back as well. Which will make my next visit that much more unpleasant. I do not cherish the whirring grind of the stain removal tool.

Spacing visits out every six months ensures the stains don’t get too bad. But it was my very insistence at my last visit upon returning in six months that landed me in the chair with Dentist in the first place. For the last few years I’ve noticed the intervals between scheduled appointments creeping up, from six months, to seven months, and eventually all the way up to ten months.

I finally complained last time, asking Dentist at what interval the ADA recommends cleanings. I admit I was leading the witness, because of course he answered "six months." I then pounced, and asked why I would have to wait ten months to get in for my next cleaning. Basically it boils down to them having too many patients: Irina and the other hygienists are all booked up ten months in advance. So they granted me the privilege of coming back in six months, but having Dentist clean my teeth instead. Foolishly, I accepted, and look where it got me.

The other negative consequence, aside from poorly cleaned teeth, was actually spending 25 minutes with Dentist. Eeep! I have always thought he was a little creepy, but never really wanted to blame him per se. Isn’t everyone a bit of an anti-dentite, when it comes right down to it? No one likes going to the dentist, after all. It is an unpleasant environment, so I’ve always tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he merely seemed icky by association.

I have been going to see this particular Dentist my entire life. He gave me umpteen dreaded flouride treatments as a child; he pulled four molars before I got the braces he recommended; he did a great job capping my front tooth to prevent further damage when it chipped. He has a daughter exactly my age, and a son exactly my sister’s age, and we all went to high school together.

Having said all that, I really don’t know him very well. Most visits, the hygienist does all the work and he pops in for five minutes or less at the very end. But this long history must make him feel some sort of non-existent closeness, because he is forever asking personal questions and passing judgments. For example, SodaBoy and I shouldn’t be living together, as we’re not married. Scandalous! Never mind that it’s none of his business, or that we're more than old enough to make our own decisions.

Yesterday Dentist sank to a new low. He started off by asking me how old I am, fairly innocuous. I politely told him 32, leaving the still the same age as your daughter part of the thought unsaid. He then proceeded to tell me I need to hurry up and have some babies, because I don’t have forever. There is apparently an expiration date "down there." I steered the conversation away from me at that point, asking about his daughter and her fecundity, since he was so enamored with the subject of spawning.

But holy WTF? I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around how very inappropriate this line of inquiry is. Am I supposed to thank him for pointing out my declining fertility? Why does he think it’s any of his business? Couldn’t this line of questioning be very painful for some people? What if I couldn’t ever have kids? What if I chose not to have kids? Why should I have to justify anything to him? Would he hassle a 32 year man about hurrying up to have kids? Or is it just women who are subjected to this bullshit?


Erin said...

The whole thing is unbelievable. Makes me really anxious for my appointment on Monday morning. Hopefully, I have another two years before he starts in on my fertility levels. Jerk.

jo(e) said...

How incredibly inappropriate. I would go to a different dentist.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

How very upsetting!!! Grrrr!!

I wonder if he feels free to give you "fatherly advice" because you're the same age as hs daughter and he's known you so long! BUT, that's no excuse, not only are you NOT his daugher, but she's an adult too, now.

Casey said...

That's just awful.