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Dental Checkup
by Dan Vander Ark
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I received a really nice postcard in the mail the other day. It was from my dentist. And it was time for my 6 month checkup. Now I don’t know about you, but I usually go to my 6 month dental checkups about once a year.

The hygienist, Debbie, was very nice. She invited me to sit in the dental version of a La-Z-Boy, and then proceeded to tilt the chair back until I was sure I was going to slide off onto my head. I held on tight to the arm rests and wished for a seat belt.

After a quick glance at my records, the hygienist informed me that I should have my x-rays updated.

“OK,” I replied gleefully. I was then draped in 20 lbs of lead and a couple of little pieces of cardboard with film in them were placed as far back in my mouth as possible. I think even farther. The ray gun of death was pointed at my mouth and the pictures were taken.

Debbie then gazed down at my mouth through what looked like a pair of night vision goggles. After a preliminary check by her and an examination by the dentist, I was informed that I needed a crown. Not just a tiara, but a full blown gold crown. Apparently tooth #31 was rotting away.

Knowing that the price of gold is now at about $1,000,000.00 per fleck, I immediately wondered how much that was going to cost. When they informed me that my dental plan would probably cover at least 50% of the cost, I asked if I could just get the 50% portion done that the insurance would cover and call it even. There was a little bit of silence and then laughter when they figured out I was kidding. They don’t know me.

I was then informed that my teeth looked pretty good except that my gums were receding. Recession can be caused by brushing too hard, they told me. (And I always thought it was caused by us not maxing out our credit cards). Now I knew my hair had been receding for quite some time (all the way to the back of my head), but I didn’t know that your gums could recede. I asked my dental dream team, “Is there a connection between the receding hair and the receding gums?” They are both located in the head, so I figured there was. (This is a good spot for a little science lesson: You know that law of physics that says, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction?” So if something is receding on my body, then shouldn’t something be advancing? Maybe that’s where the weight gain comes from. The gums and hair recede, the age and weight advances.)

The dentist said something like, “Maybe there is Rogaine for your gums!”

I mentioned I was going to do some research on the internet about this as soon as possible. And if I couldn’t find a cure then I think this might work: Take your wife’s colander (you know, that spaghetti strainer thingy), your daughter’s Ipod, and a 9 volt battery from your grandson’s remote control Humvee. Oh, and some duct tape and wire. Duct tape the Ipod to the colander on the right side, cut off the ear phone/buds and attach a couple of alligator clips to the end of the wires. Duct tape the 9 volt battery to the left side of the colander and attach a couple of wires to the battery and have a couple of alligator clips on those wires as well. Place the colander on your head – attach one Ipod wire and one 9 volt battery wire to the right side molars (one top and one bottom) and one Ipod wire and one 9volt battery wire to the left side molars (one top and one bottom). Oh yeah, make sure you put a dimmer switch somewhere along those battery wires or you’ll regret it. Start with a very low voltage setting (dimmer switch almost to “dim”) and some Barry Manilow music at low volume (the earphones are gone but don’t sweat it, your teeth will crank out the song). Try that for one hour before bed each night. If after 6 months your hair and gums are still receding then crank up the voltage and switch to some heavy metal music like Metallica.

After the hygienist was finished cleaning my teeth, she did the floss thing.
She then asked the dreaded question…..”How often do you floss?”

I was trapped. “Well, I am thinking how I should answer that question.” She laughed.

But the guilt was just overwhelming, so I finally blurted out, “Once a year! At my 6 month checkup! When I come to see you!“ Although I guess I have flossed a couple of times when I’ve had something like whale blubber stuck between my teeth. (Perhaps in the future if you want to get a job with the government, there will just be two questions at the job interview: Them: Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Applicant: Uh, No. Them: Do you floss? Applicant: Ummmmm, well, uh not really. Them: NEXT!)

Then she asked about the fluoride treatment. That’s the part I hate the most. Those two little trays smooshing on your teeth with the little suction instrument stuck between them. I think the CIA uses the “fluoride treatment” to try to get the truth out of people; and if that doesn’t work then they use water surfboarding or whatever that is.

She asked me what flavor I wanted. I wanted coffee flavored but they didn’t have that. There was banana, strawberry, chocolate, pine and I think cement flavored. I chose strawberry.

She put the trays in and I inserted the little suction thing. I noticed the suction thingy had a small knob on it to either increase or decrease the suctivity. I wanted so bad to crank it wide open, but was afraid my head might collapse. Or worse yet, create an orthodontic version of a black hole right there in the dentist office causing everything not fastened down to come toward my head at the speed of suction.

I was so relieved when that was done.

As I left she handed me a new toothbrush and a thing of floss.

“Oh thanks!” I said, “I will add this to my collection! And I will see you in a year at my next 6 month checkup!”

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