I went to the dentist last week. I’d been putting it off for about six months by then, because I’m not really sure that I absolutely need to have my teeth cleaned twice a year. Once seems fine to me. Yes, I have dental insurance, so it’s not the money, it’s the principle of the thing. I don’t quite understand when it became “normal” to get your teeth cleaned every six months rather than every twelve months.


So I showed up, on time and everything. The hygienist, whom I have known for years, checked my chart and immediately noticed that I hadn’t been in for a year.

“What’s the matter? Don’t you like us any more?” she teased me.

“I like you just fine. What I don’t like is getting my teeth cleaned,” I replied. “But just so you know, I do floss regularly.”

As the cleaning continued, the hygienist did concede that yes, my flossing had become masterful. My gums were apparently loving it, and were nice and pink and healthy-looking, she announced.

Still the cleaning continued.

Eventually, when she got her hands and instruments out of my mouth briefly, I said, “You seem to be doing a lot of scraping – more than usual.”

She raised her eyebrows at me. (That was actually all I could see, since she was wearing a mask.) “Well, you haven’t been in for a year, so there’s a bit more of a buildup of plaque …”


I finally got out of the chair an hour and twenty minutes after I’d first sat in it. I was the last appointment of the day, and lots of the other workers at the dental clinic left before I did.

fscn07731As I was standing at the counter, paying my share of the bill, the hygienist suddenly remembered that she hadn’t given me a new toothbrush. She quickly got me one. It’s – uh – orange.

Let’s think about this for one second. Would someone nicknamed “Pinklea” want an orange toothbrush? Right. Thought not.

But the clinic was closing and I wasn’t about to quibble (much) over a free toothbrush. Instead, I whined to PG later on the phone.

How well that man knows me! Saturday, when I arrived at his place, there in his bathroom was this: dscn0771

“I’ll trade you,” he said. “Will you shut up about the damn orange toothbrush now?”


10 responses to “Brush-off

  1. I don’t know if they even have dental hygeniests here in France. If they do, I’ve never met one. The dentist does a half hearted job of cleaning my teeth and tells me that I brush my teeth too much and too hard. I only go to him about once a year too.

  2. VioletSky – Can you imagine how beat-up your friend’s toothbrush would look after a year or so? It probably wouldn’t even clean properly any more.

    Jazz – I have to use a child’s size toothbrush, so maybe that’s why the hygienist keeps trying to get me to buy an electric: small mouth.

    Hannah – I know! The prize drawer rocked!

  3. You need a cleaning every six months? Since when? I only get a cleaning once a year and am fine for it.

    I don’t mind the free toothbrushes you get after each appointment, but I miss the cool rubber monsters that you put on the end of a pen. They tell me I’m now too old for such frivolities! Pshaw!

  4. I got the electric because I have problems getting a regular brush way back there (apparently my mouth is too small) even a children’s brush is iffy. This has made a huge difference.

  5. Yeah, I sortof hesitated over that – it doesn’t sound right, does it? I know she said she disinfects it somehow, I must find a way to bring up the topic again. Or maybe not. I just remember being so shocked that she said she never changes it for a new one.

  6. choppysunflower – I actually really only care about the colour of my toothbrush when I first get it. After that, yes, I’m like you and I just brush with the thing.

    Jazz – My hygienist has been encouraging me to get an electric toothbrush for years now, and I keep resisting. Why bother when they’re supplying me with free manual ones every time I go in?

    VioletSky – Your friend BLEACHES her toothbrush? And then puts it in her MOUTH? She’s lucky she hasn’t poisoned herself yet!

    XUP – It sounds like a provincial government make-work project, doesn’t it? At least some of us are rebelling …

  7. I don’t think you need a cleaning every 6 months either. In Nova Scotia they only do it once a year and I was always in and out within 10 minutes. Suddenly in Ontario I have to come every 6 months and it takes them forever to poke and pick and scrape and admonish.

  8. I like to have a variety of colours. I figure when I get bored with one colour, it is probably time to change it. Otherwise, I might forget how long I’ve been using it. I have a friend who uses the same brush forever (so she says, I don’t check), she just bleaches it every now and then – ewwww!

    I’m trying to avoid my dentist’s phone calls for a reminder to rebook my appointment I missed when I went on holiday last August. They always remind why I missed and when I missed (thinking I might feel guilty?). I don’t. But I do need a new good quality toothbrush.

  9. I don’t know what’s going to happen at my next cleaning – I recently bought an electric toothbrush. Will they give me a $10 replacement brush? Naw, I didn’t think so.

  10. choppysunflower

    My toothbrush is in the bathroom, but without getting up to look at it, I won’t be able to tell you what color it is. I just brush with the darn thing and it is the only one there. I think it is red and white, but that may be the color o f the tube off toothpaste. I’m so lackadaisical about these things. That’s because I’m the only one living here.