Who the fuck aspires to be a Dental Hygienist!? Surely this is a job stumbled into through circumstance not ambition as I’m certain that the one I just visited harbours some deep seeded frustration with either herself, society or both. Even when she beckoned me from the waiting room, her tone may have sounded cheerful and inviting but the look was sinister as though I reminded her of the professor who pulled her aside in university and suggested that her strengths may lay outside of the field of dentistry.
She then ushered me into a little room and sat me in the rack like dentist’s chair that was cold and hard, like her heart, then clipped a demeaning little paper bib on me specifically designed to give you an immediate sense of subservience.
I can appreciate that because the hygienist was only five foot nothing she had to adjust the chair to work on me, but for reasons only known to herself she decided to forgo the height adjustment in favour of reclining the chair that far past the horizontal that I had to hold onto the armrests with grim death to avoid being pile driven into the surgery floor.
With the deftness of Dexter she donned the surgical mask and gloves and adjusted the light so it almost wasn’t blinding my view of my feet hovering just below the ceiling. She then asked me to open my mouth. Now, I know I haven’t got great teeth in fact I missed out on a bit-part in the seventies British comedy, “On the Buses” because they considered them too crooked but the hygienist made a face that I imagine only Gina Rinehart’s gynaecologist could replicate.
After this minor slip in professionalism the hygienist continued, starting with a quick poke around my mouth looking for the tooth most likely to be sensitive to cold air, then hooked that sucking tube thing right next to it. Although my knuckles whitened even more, I was handling the discomfort until she started scratching at my teeth with a metal prong that had a hooked piece of sharpened wire on the end of it. “Not too bad” she said, “but there is a bit of bleeding from the top right front.”
I wanted to say that with the amount of blood rushing to my head due my inverted angle, I was surprised my eyes weren’t bleeding and maybe if she stopped stabbing at my gums with a metal prong with a hooked piece if sharpened wire on the end then there wouldn’t be such a problem.
At the risk of sounding a little extreme the next instrument she produced would have been banned in Auschwitz as unnecessarily cruel. It had a white handle, again with a hooked bit of metal protruding from the end which not only vibrated but also fired a fine stream of water. Now that may sound harmless enough but it used tap water and was 8:30 in the morning in the middle of a typical Canberra winter.
When that thing hit my teeth my testicles instantaneously retreated past my kidneys, I lost my grip of the armrests and crashed to the floor. As I stood, pulling at the back of my jeans which had been sucked up my arse the hygienist suggested that my teeth may be a little sensitive. I conceded that that may be the case, but I also forwarded that if that thing was used on a two thousand year old ivory carving it too would scream like a bitch, and queried if she could run the hose through a bucket of ice to warm the water up a bit.
With the return to the chair and ‘stop being such a pussy’ negotiations concluded, (with the stipulation that the water squirting vibrating hook of death be locked in a cupboard somewhere), the hygienist continued the clean “manually”. This meant stabbing and picking with various other sharpened hooked pieces of metal, which were heaven by comparison. The visit concluded with a fluoride treatment that Linda Lovelace would have struggled with but I managed to gag my way through it. After paying the bill which, coincidentally, was the same as the dental office heating repairs I’d overheard quoted earlier, I left with the receptionist’s farewell still ringing in my ears. “See you in six months!”. Yeah good luck with that.