I don’t dread dentist. Not really. I have no reason too. After receiving braces, I believed that a dentist was not a place to fear–except the awkwardness of man scrapping and spraying with potential torture tools, as they discuss everyday affairs, like ya’’ll are sitting down for coffee. Then I went to a reputable South Korean dentist and. . . well, I learned a lesson on teeth and life.
The beginning was very average. The people were different in that they were all South Korean and spoke Hangul, except when they spoke to my mom and I. Besides this minor detail, it was just a day at the dentist.
“Joy.” The assistant smiled at me like proper assistant dentists are suppose to do, and I walked back to the dentist chamber. I began the cleaning laying down on a plain, gray operating chair, as the dentist and his helpers buzzed around me in words unintelligible to me. They failed to speak to me at all, except in commands.
I was fine with this minimal communication. I got comfortable, as comfortable as can be on a dentist chair. My mind slipped off to formatting the articles I was writing for my school newspaper. I thought about my next cross country meet. What were the steps to make varsity again? 8th was not good enough. Would losing weight be the key to a higher spot on the team?
The silver tool came out. My official name for it is The Scrapper. The Scrapper immediately went into the effect of scrapping. Needless to say, The Scrapper was having a busy day. It was scrapping and scrapping. . . meanwhile the buzzing of human voices continued as well. I could only imagine the conversation.
“Does this girl brush?
“I bet it is all that fast food and candy.”
“Speaking of which where are we going for lunch?”
“There is that new place around the corner. I heard they have amazing noodles.”
Shrick-click-shrick-tlick.The sound of metal against bone. Then metal against gum or at least it seemed that way. A warm metal taste was filling my mouth. Blood I deduced. This was confirmed when they finally stuck The Blow Dryer tube in my mouth. It filled with maroon saliva, and then. . . they started again, scrapping and chattering. I began to feel that I should tap out like a wrestler or at least take a timeout and say “Wait a minute! What is going on here? Do you usually draw this much blood?”
My mouth seemed to never have felt so much abuse in my 17 years of living. Braces dropped down to a distant second. My jaw was starting to ache from holding it open so long. Each minute felt like five minutes. Blood peppered the cleaner’s aqua blue glove and soon I was a little terrified. They must have known that I didn’t floss, daily. Was this a little frustration, meanness because of my lack of dedication to dental hygiene? I thought I was doing well with my cleaning. Twice a day brushing. Mouthwash most days. But I didn’t floss. Should I confess? My eyes were filming over with tears.
Oh gracious, was I going to cry? My nightmare was a reality. The bib I was wearing was smeared with my blood. I began to squirm. Maybe they’d take a hint at my discomfort. But, no they dug harder and the chatter droned on. I wondered if my mouth was just an object to them. Even when I relaxed my screaming jaw, it would simply be pushed back open and stretched. I tried to think good thoughts, like my mouth was getting a much needed gymnastic routine. I wouldn’t mumble so much. I could fit more chips into my mouth at one time without crumbs falling. But to get there, I had to experience, every excruciating second, second after, after second.
Finally, the drills stopped, The Scrapper and The Blow Dryer. They ordered me to brush my bruised and batter mouth and teeth. I brushed and managed a feeble spit, which swirled in candy cane colors. I looked in the mirror to see if I had red teeth. Instead, I found myself staring at teeth fit for TV ads. They were white. Not a speck of yellow, even around the edges. Whitening strips didn’t stand a chance. My gums were fire engine red, but my teeth were pristine. Never been the same since, my teeth. I walked out and told my mother about the gauntlet I went through. I didn’t go back, but in that experience I learned something: Pain is ugly, but if we live through it there might be white teeth in the end.