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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Dental Hygienists

This morning I had a dental appointment, and it threw off my whole schedule.  I thought the appointment was on Friday, but they gave me a reminder call yesterday to tell me it is today.  I’m glad they did.  It might have taken another six months to schedule another one.  So instead of sitting down to write this morning, I prepared for going “into town.”  This means putting on presentable clothes, applying full war paint, and doing a couple of passes with the curling iron.  Then it takes 45 minutes or so to drive to the dentist’s office.  Thank goodness I gassed up the Suburban yesterday.  I dutifully wrote down the odometer reading and the number of gallons I put in, so we can figure out how many miles per gallon the Beast is getting.  But I didn’t fill it up all the way.  I started freaking out when the gas pump registered $105.00 and stopped at that point.  So we still don’t know.  That will be a depressing statistic.    
I arrived at the dentist's office a few minutes early, so I picked up a magazine.  I got engrossed in an article in Outside magazine (never heard of it before) about a husband and wife who decide to go camping and mountain climbing to re-galvanize their marriage.  I found this an interesting concept.  Why not just remodel your house instead?  That provides more than enough stress for an otherwise happy couple to file for divorce.  Just as I was getting interested in the article (they’d already had two arguments in the car on the way), the hygienist announced my name.  I took the magazine with me, just in case.  But a dentist's office is not like a doctor’s, where making it into an examining room is just the first step in a long process.  The hygienist was ready to go as soon as I got settled into the dental recliner.  
The hygienist has worked for my dentist for going on 23 years.  She has a bright smile, nice teeth (of course), and is quite chatty.  Those qualities seem to be requirements for being a dental hygienist.  By the time any hygienist finishes cleaning my teeth, I know all about her children, grandchildren, and past and present husbands. 
(On a visit to another dentist, his hygienist told me all about how her husband and the father of her three children disappeared without a trace one day.  Years passed and she was just about to file paperwork to collect his life insurance when she discovered he had run off with another man and was living in Houston under an alias.  She told me this story quite cheerfully, with a bright smile.) 
But, God bless ‘em, I know I couldn’t do their job.  I think I’d rather empty bedpans than poke around in somebody’s mouth, especially doing icky things like flossing their teeth.  Have you seen some of those before and after dental ads?  It makes me queasy just looking at the pictures of those yellowed, gnarled teeth and nasty gums. 
So, because today’s schedule got off track, I didn’t get to write my blog or do my usual Tuesday stint at the humane society.  Instead, I’m going to pick up a couple of freshly neutered dogs from the vet and take them back to the shelter.  In fact, I need to leave now.   

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