Just returned from the biannual visit to my Pain Provider. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. How about, Deliverer of Discomfort. And she wants to change bi-annual to quad-annual – “I think I need to see you every three months.” Followed by (as always), “You need to floss more often.”

Okay, that’s it, if I hear her say this one more time…

Slowly, I remove my sunglasses. A courtesy protection to prevent being blinded by the obnoxious lamp she needs to illuminate my buccal cavity throughout the entire hour+ (!) cleaning procedure. I’m still flat on my back, my fingers and toes tingling from blood loss because I’m tilted so far back in the damn chair while my teeth are terrorized. I turn my head and look up at her, straight in the eye. Her nose and mouth are still covered by a mask, now splattered with peppermint tooth polish. My terry cloth bib is soaked with my own spittle and the over-spray from her little squirt gun rinser. I feel like the Gerber Baby. “So,” I say, “how often do you suggest I floss? Five times a day? Six?” Surely, I think, she’ll find the hyperbole amusing, touch my arm consolingly, chuckle a bit and say, Oh no, Mr. Nibbe, that would be ridiculous of me. Instead, she pauses, looks toward the ceiling, as if to ponder if five to six times a day just might in fact be the right frequency for me. Woman, I’m thinking, I was kidding!

Alright, maybe pain is an exaggeration. Some people say they rather enjoy getting their teeth cleaned. Some people are masochists. I don’t know. And I don’t care. Holding my mouth agape for one hour+ while my dentition is poked, picked, chiseled and ground ain’t my idea of enjoyment. And then to be told it’s my fault because I don’t floss enough, or I’m not doing it right, or not using the right floss, or the correct circular motion, etc etc.

I can’t fault her for not being thorough though. Even so, an hour+, seriously? Used to be I was in and out of the chair in half that time, then patted on the back with an attaboy and sent home with a new brush and paste of my favorite flavor (Cherry). Copy/paste, every six months.

I dunno, maybe this is just another lament on the list of It’s-Hell-Getting-Old. More likely it’s a sad reminder that plaque removal hasn’t progressed since medieval times; it’s the equivalent of bloodletting to cure bad humors.