Okay, this is my rebuttal to a very funny blog I just read regarding the thought process of a dental patient. Funny thing about blogging, is that after I write one, I always feel pretty good about myself. And then comes the drought, where I start to panic because too much time has passed without a new post. The more I think about needing to write, the less inspired I feel. The stats on my site look like someone has flatlined, leading to more panic and less inspiration. And then…BAM…something falls right into my lap. Hence, the inspiration for today’s blog. Thanks to Sass and Balderdash, a great blog I follow, I couldn’t wait to get to my laptop and respond to her blog, which is posted just before this one. At first, I was going to leave a comment gushing about how much I enjoyed it, but there was just too much to say, so…here goes my latest post: a point by point response by me (a dental hygienist) to, I think, the inner thoughts of every patient in my chair.
1. Your hygienist can usually tell if you floss regularly, but, honestly…there are some people who are just lucky and can get away with lying about it. So, yeah, that’s the truth…
2. The Always Blonde Dental Hygienist: Yes, I’m blonde.
3. Lean back while I put your bib on: Patients who can’t get the hang of the suction always end up with a watery mess, leading me to say, “And, this is why we put bibs on people” (more on this later…).
4. Yes, we can see up your nose, so try to take care of any issues before your appointment. Thank you.
5. Yes, I could easily kill you in the insanely vulnerable position in which you’ve just been placed. So, just keep that in mind…
6. The tiny metal hook and mirror? There’s actually a couple different metal hooks – one is called an explorer and, while it might look scary, is actually pretty innocent. The other is my absolute favorite instrument – the sickle. Don’t mess with that one.
7. Okay, turn toward me: Patients, pay attention PLEASE: it’s really pretty simple. Just turn your head towards your hygienist. Don’t lift upward. Don’t just turn your eyeballs to her. Roll your head so one ear is near the chair and the other is facing somewhat upward. Feel free to gaze toward the ceiling, or a wall. Or close your eyes. It’s all good. By the way…thank you for the compliment about my beautiful eyes. I actually have heard that before from patients, but have to admit, it’s a little weird. So, let’s just keep that in your inner thoughts and we hygienists will assume our eyes are dazzling.
8. Why does the hygienist start a conversation with their hands in your mouth? Simple. We’re bilingual. We really do understand most of your gibberish. I usually try to time my questions for when my hands will be making an exit. Often after a day at work, I’ll tell my husband about a patient I saw that day and say, “Oh I met the coolest guy today. He lives in such and such neighborhood and his kids go to that school and works at the other place and he loves music and goes to the concerts in the park” etc etc. To which my husband say, “When do you have time to find all that out?” It’s all in the timing.
9. I’m going to floss your teeth now: Yes, I can usually see the utter terror in their eyes in anticipation of razor-sharp floss being forced in between their teeth until it CUTS into the gum. Yeah, I know. Just trust me, okay? If I even suspect I’m not going to be successful, I won’t even try. It really won’t bother me to skip it. Really…it won’t.
10. The grit: I know it’s gross. But doesn’t it feel good when we reach… #11?
11. Lots of water, swish, and spit: Except in my office, we don’t spit. I suction the water out. Some patients have the hang of it and some never will. That’s why we put bibs on them (refer to #3).
12. Freebie toothbrush, floss, etc: Yes, you can tell me that you use an electric toothbrush. I’m good with that, even though I say, “Yeah, but wouldn’t you like an extra, just in case?” You can also tell me to PLEASE stop giving you floss every time you come to the office; that the drawer in your bathroom is threatening to never open again because of the overflow of never-used floss. I’m okay with that, too.
So, there you have it. The inner thoughts of your dental hygienist responding to the inner thoughts of her patients. Funny story: once, as I was happily scraping away (with my favorite sickle scaler), my very nervous patient asked if I had ever slipped causing the instrument to catapult into someone’s eye. She told me that thought always terrified her. I was SO tempted to say,”No, don’t worry, that’s never happened…yet.” But, I knew she wouldn’t see the humor in that.