I grew up in a small town where most of the people I know have fake teeth. Often I followed some of these people to the dentist and indirectly interacted with the dentists. I remember how distinctive the smell of every single dentist office I’ve been to. In my family itself, 5 out of 6 of my sisters have detachable teeth. My mother often carry her teeth in a plastic pouch filled with water. Yet, in my 27 years of life, I’ve never been the patient until today.
My dental plaque had been accumulated since the early development of my adult sets of teeth and recently has been getting extra attention after a friend of mine mentioned it. It’s hard to find a dentist in where I live until recently. So I’ve made up my mind a few weeks ago to get the plaques cleaned. Still, I was battling with busy schedule and work.
When I finally find the time to do it, it was today. As I walked into the dental clinic, the awkward encounter begins.
The first awkward encounter is the question “How can I help you?” question. I answered with “removing my plaques”. The nurses (or whatever you call them) didn’t seem to understand me but requested my details anyway for registration. I gave them my IC and waited for a while. A few minutes later, a nurse called me into the room and I couldn’t help but grinned at the idea of me lying on the dentist bed. I smiled when the dentist lowered the chair and started asking questions.
“What do you want to do?” asked the dentist.
I tried my best not to laugh, thinking about the jokes about dentist loving to talk to their patient despite their mouth being occupied with the dentist equipments. “I want to remove my plaques” I said.
Yet, the dentist still look confused, so I flashed out my teeth and point to the bottom gum where the plaques are most visible.
“Oh, scaling” confirmed the dentist. Apparently that’s what it’s called.
The procedure was very uncomfortable. Squeaky and hushing sounds of the equipments in my mouth and the effort to keep my jaw dropped for almost half an hour, with some occasional pain when the plaque is in the deeper part. And the most annoying of all is the constant flow of water sprayed to my mouth in the process where I felt like I’m drowning and trying to control my breathing from my nose only. I choked a few times and had to ask the nice dentist to give me a break.
“It’s just water” said the dentist every time I felt choked and try to clear my throat.
During the entire process, there were moments where I couldn’t do anything but lay there with a tensed up body like I was being tied to a bed and tortured. And I couldn’t help but look around emptily, trying to relax, stare funnily at the dentist and nurses, and making sure I remember to breath from my nose. I wonder, what would you do?