June 13th, 2006


The Tooth Fairy

Today I went in for my quarterly teeth cleaning. Yes, quarterly. I have periodontal disease, which means the hygienists need to keep a close eye on my mouth.

Today's hygienist was unusually thorough. I go to a periodontal office, where periodontal issues are all that are considered, so all of the hygienists are thorough. Yet among this crop this particular woman stands out. She started by checking out my lymph nodes, my throat, the tissues inside my mouth. All excellent, she said. Then, when doing the regular investigation of depths of "pockets", she probed deeper and more thoroughly than most, finding one small area of light bleeding that later turned out to be probably from a bit of food stuck in there. Overall everything looked great. She used a supersonic pick for most of the cleaning, which was a first for me. I can imagine in the future one might be able to go in and have some amazing instrument put in the mouth that finds all of the tarter by sound, breaks it up, and sucks it away, without much interference by a person. But that's later. The sensation of this tool was interesting. It seemed "nicer" in that I didn't feel as much, but there are vibrations and sounds that could bother a person. Throughout, the hygienist talked about what she was doing. Explaining everything she found, every tool she used. I didn't mind much, but there have been times I just want them to shut up.

I sometimes wonder how different people handle the different invasions of their mouths. Many times I have had to talk myself into a calm state, carefully taking deep breaths. Not today, and not often lately, but often enough that I have wondered how others cope. I can feel, on the fringes of my consciousness, a certain amount of claustrophobia, a sense of being trapped. I know it for what it is and don't let it get me, but I know a lot of others don't know how to do this.