Nothing at all is like pulling teeth

My favorite television commercial to complain about lately has been the tooth-whitening one about the “tissue test.” You know, where she freaks out when she holds a tissue up to her teeth and they don’t look as white as the material does.
Seriously? This is all she worries about with her teeth? Whether they past the tissue test or not? Get real. For years I have done the “biting food” test. If I bite down on food and my teeth don’t ache, throb, develop shooting pains or actually break off, I’m satisfied. I don’t need a tissue to validate my teeth.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my teeth: I love to have them, and I hate taking care of them. Oh, I brush them and floss them, but it seems that no matter how careful I am today, they will not forgive me for the years of neglect I gave them when I was young.

And I’ve paid for that, over and over. The first time I went to a dentist, I was 17 and the dentist was required to pull a tooth. He said it was nothing to pull a tooth. After he had shot my mouth full of Novocain, he immediately began pulling the tooth. To this day, I swear there is a dent in my left shoulder where he braced his knee to yank out the tooth. It was reasonably fast, but the Novocain didn’t kick in until a few minutes after he was done. To this day, I get the shudders when someone describes a problem as being “like pulling teeth.”  I assure you, nothing is like pulling teeth.

Unfortunately, this experience put into place a vicious cycle in which I avoided dentists until I had a terrible problem and of course, the solution was always difficult and painful…you might say getting me to the dentist was like, “pulling teeth.”

Dentists differed on whether my teeth should be cleaned—one said no because of a heart murmur, but after eight years of no cleaning, I was sent to a dentist who felt those eight years of no cleaning needed to be rectified. 


I have heard stories of scary types who use dental equipment to get information from people and I believe that is an effective technique. If I had possessed any secrets that dental hygienist wanted to  know, I’d have told her to get her to stop “cleaning” my teeth.

When she had done one side of my mouth and my eyes were leaving their sockets, she made her mistake: She said, “Well, I think we should give you a break and you can come in for another appointment to finish the other side.” I went home, spit blood for a couple of days and went back into dental avoidance.

Of course, this kind of ill-treatment of my teeth has resulted in the loss of some. I have a wonderfully fitted partial, but even that has caused some dental avoidance: One side of the partial has lost one of the faux teeth attached to it and I have yet to take it in and let the dentist look at it. What’s worse is that I have no idea what happened to the fake tooth when it came loose, but I am pretty sure I consumed it.

With all of these experiences in dentistry, I am pretty sure I’m lucky to still have teeth in my mouth that actually help me eat, so I will be incredibly grateful for those, which I brush and floss regularly. As to whether I can pass the “tissue test” I would love to do that, but white teeth just don’t matter as much as whole teeth. I’ll use the tissue to blow my nose instead!

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