I have, as my dear readers doubtless know, been reaping the vast rewards of years without dental insurance for some time now. Today, I got to reap Yet Another One, as I went in for a cleaning and was introduced to Mr. Periodontal Scaling instead. This is what they do when the tartar has had a chance to really get established, has built bunkers and ramparts and earthworks below the gumline, and is flying the dread flag Gingivitis from the top of a convenient molar. I got off lightly, I suppose–seven years of insurancelessness, and they chiselled it all off in an hour. James, who suffers from Really Really Strong Enamel, never gets cavities, the lucky bastard, but requires a scaling practically routinely as his teeth attempt to armor plate themselves against possible outside attack, and they have to do his in Novocained chunks. Mine just required a lot of wincing, as my gums, alas, have had the approximate texture of blood-filled sponges since I got braces in my youth, an assault upon the oral dignity from which I never quite recovered. (For one thing, I can’t whistle. I know. Anybody can whistle. Mae West, purse your lips, blow, I know. I can’t. I could before I got braces, mind you, just fine–I was no virtuoso, but I could call the dog with the best of ’em. Since the suckers came off, for the last decade, I have been fundamentally unable to whistle. I don’t know why, either.)

The hygenist was very good, very kind, did not scold me. People do that less these days. Maybe it’s that I’m an adult, maybe the standing wave I generate that somehow keeps people from telling me about their religion also works on dentists. Maybe it’s just that the refrain “Well, I haven’t had health insurance for awhile…” is immediately understood in this day and age, and in fact, the response is always one of “Let’s get this all fixed while the insurance lasts, then…” with the silent understanding that one cannot count on insurance to be a constant of existence any longer. A grim reflection on our times, to be sure, but it does mean I don’t get yelled at, so there’s that.

So there was the usual minor discomfort, and sequence of truly vile tastes. My teeth feel all…distinct…now. I do wish they’d put something mentally stimulating on the ceiling. I don’t mean a picture of flowers, or a mobile. That doesn’t work at the gynecologist either. If I am having a car jack rammed into either my mouth or parts further south, a magazine cut-out of a field of tulips is not going to do squat. They need story problems. Logic puzzles. Where’s Waldo. Something to occupy the brain, damnit.

And I got a rotating tooth-brush thing to massage my gums. It is shaped like an astronaut. It was four dollars. The identical adult model was $85. They suggested I just ditch dignity and save myself a lot of money, and being both cheap and basically undignified, I spent a novel few minutes this evening massaging my gums with a small bristly handled spaceman.

And I have nothing else, on reflection, that can possibly compete with that last line, so I’m going’ to bed.

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