american dentistry

I’ve already whinged about this on the Twitter, but hey, this is mah blog and no one can stop me if I want to whinge some more.

Being a grownup sucks. Yeah, I can buy all the lollies I want, just like I dreamed when I was little, but the good stuff is all in Australia and the crap they have here – they call it “candy” – tastes like an alloy of high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and Bisphenol A plastic. Yeah I don’t have to go to school any more and can work whatever hours I want: pity those hours are 8am – 6pm most days. Yeah I could afford a spectacular horse. Pity that money is earmarked for trivialities like, you know, my kids.

It is in dentistry that these conflicts are made explicit. I never liked dentists much anyway, and after the gross dentist in the Manning Building who would make inappropriate comments and “accidentally” brush my breasts, dislike turned to something not far off panic. I do love the dentist I have now, Claude Sidi. He is an amateur Impressionist painter in the style of Monet, and he works out of 450 Sutter, a dazzling Deco masterpiece whose lobby is panelled in insane faux-Mayan bronze. The building is full of dentists, so its nickname is 450 Suffer.

And that’s the thing. I was appalled the first time I came to an American dentist. They have these – metal spikes. They use them to scrape all the tartar off your teeth, where they meet the gums. Actually below that, in what they call the “pockets.” So they dig around in there. With metal spikes. Did I mention the metal spikes? Next comes an ultrasonic tool, which whines at you while doing much the same thing. It’s not agonizing. The first few minutes you think, This is not so bad. But you’re upside down, with your mouth open and a stranger inside it, and a tiny vacuum sucking away the water and saliva and blood and pieces of tartar and gum. And it goes on, and on.

This kind of invasive cleaning has no doubt kept my teeth much healthier than they used to be, and this is the most irksome thing of all. I’m a staunch advocate of preventive health as cheaper and more effective than reactive emergency measures. Deferring present gratification for future gain is wise and mature and rational. It just sucks. I don’t like it. I want lollies. And a pony. Wah.

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