I suffer from as many weird body-image issues as the next woman, but I think my sense of self-worth may be most unhealthily reliant on the praise of dental practitioners. If I walk out of the dentist's office cavity-free and brimming with compliments on my obvious flossing, I am like a first-grader who's earned a sticker. So proud! So happy! If there is scowling or tsking or technique lecturing, I am brokenhearted. You can imagine how low I felt when I was informed I required the Human Dermal Product to be sewn into my mouth. It was all my fault! For brushing too hard, of all things. A large-scale punishment for overeager oral hygiene. That seems hardly fair.
In the six months following the surgery, I have tried to mend my brushing habits to meet the needs of my delicate gums. I am even using an unsatisfying extra-soft toothbrush, which, as I may have mentioned, feels not much more effective than rubbing a kleenex around in your mouth. Still, I have been mindful. When I went to the periodontist today, for the final recovery status check, I was primed for praise.
Instead, I have plaque. Not a plaque, mind you. Not a plaque that says "Best Patient We've Ever Had" or similar, just plaque. "You're totally lousy at brushing your teeth" plaque. "Ah, you have plaque here," he told me. And I wanted to say, "You have plaque. You have plaque all over your big, stupid, plaquey FACE." But I didn't.
He made me look at the inflammation with a hand mirror. And then he continued to poke my gums with a super pointy metal stick, calling out mystery numbers to his assistant. "And there's bleeding, of course," he told her, with what struck me as more than necessary condescension. And I wanted to say, "That's what happens when you poke the inside of people's MOUTHS with a pointy metal stick. You big dummy." But I didn't. Instead I said, "I've been worried about brushing too hard. Particularly at the surgical site." He said, "Well, now you're being too careful."
For the love of God! What do you people want from me?
So, that's it. I am a big dental failure.* If you don't want to be my friend anymore, I understand.
For the record, however, though the periodontist has told me time after time that the kidney stone he had was worse than the kidney stone I had, [Oh. excuse me. Renal stone. He calls it a renal stone, because he's a doctor.] it totally wasn't. Mine required SURGERY, suckah. So, whatever. I lose at gum-line brushing, but I win at kidney stones. Ha!