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Why I Never Dated a Dental Hygenist

whyidentalhygenist.jpgYou may fear environmental disasters, terrorist strikes, maybe even the Reaper. Me? I fear the dentist.

I have this unique condition where my lower jaw is impossible to completely numb. So all throughout my childhood ? any cavity I got felt like someone was jack-hammering my molars with unmitigated malice.

Growing up, I just figured this was the way it was supposed to be ? that the dentist was the person who taught you about real pain. Finally, at 11 years old, my dentist saw one of my eyes watering during one of his torture sessions and asked, ?Michael, does this hurt??

Uh, yeah. It does. Thanks, Einstein.

He figured out the problem, but my general fear of the dentist has never gone away. Just the smell of a dentist office gives me a cold sweat and wreaks havoc on my blood pressure. I actually went 11 years without visiting the dentist during adulthood (no cavities either, thank you very much?).

The point of all this? Well, my 10 month old kid has teeth. Six of them, to be precise. After returning from her recent dentist appointment, my wife tells me she asked about how we?re supposed to care for Gus? teeth. Apparently, we?re supposed to be brushing his teeth twice a day. If he has any teeth touching, we need to floss between them.

Now, if you knew Gus, you?d know that getting him to sit still long enough to have a jar of peas is well, like pulling teeth. The kid is a squirmer, he loves to be on the move every waking moment. So the notion of brushing his little pearlies, much less flossing, sounded just ridiculous. I?d probably do more harm than good trying to hold him down to polish his chompers, with a higher likelihood of knocking a tooth out with the brush rather than cleaning it.

My wife happened to be holding Gus when she told me this, and while I was having a good laugh thinking about what an out-and-out debacle it would be trying to brush his teeth, what did he do but flash an ear-to-ear toothy grin, laughing right along with me.

And there was my answer. It?s hard to get used to the feeling of wanting so much more for someone else, but there it was. I looked into the gap-toothed adoring face of my boy and knew I couldn?t let him fear the dentist like me. I wanted trips to the dentist to be fun, where he would be proud of his results. And frankly, I didn?t want him to have to make voodoo dolls that looked like his dentist like I did.

So we?ll brush his teeth and floss where we can.

But you can bank on Mom taking him to his appointments.

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