Stay Flossy


I’ll admit it. Last year, living on residence with 200 other teenagers, I wasn’t making the healthiest living choices. So when I went to the dentist at Christmas time, having 16 cavities wasn’t a huge surprise. They filled 10 of them (I think) which involved 4 appointments and 7 needles and a lot of unhappiness. Floss, they said. I obeyed.

Recently, my mom told me it was time for my next dentist appointment. You need to understand that I was pretty hesitant to go to the dentist. I’d rather have my mouth rot out than go through that whole experience again. After her reminders to book an appointment were ignored over and over again, she gave up and told me to find my own dentist in Toronto.

“Sure, Mom,” I said. And that was the end of that.

About a month later, I was walking along Carlton Street in Toronto, which is one block up from where I live. I like to window shop, since I’m broke and can’t actually buy anything. I walk pretty slowly and memorize everything in the windows, planning to buy it all one day when I’m rich. As I was looking at the windows and signs, I saw one that read, “FREE WHITENING with a new patient exam and x-rays!” CARLTON DENTAL was above it in shiny, metallic letters. I’m supposed to be looking for a dentist… and nothing is wrong with whiter teeth…

I took a few days to decide whether or not I was ready to go back to being a dental patient. I eventually decided yes and worked up the courage to call them, because teeth whitening would be a new experience for me and the dentist couldn’t be thaaat bad.  I booked my appointment a week in advance, and confirmed it about 3 times over the course of that week.  I think they have a problem with patients cancelling. I also think they have me on speed dial.

On Friday morning, November 22nd, I started my dental adventure. My appointment was at 9 so I woke up SUPER early (8) and got ready. I walked and walked and walked and walked (and there was more walking but for the sake of saving space, I’ll let you imagine that)… and I just could NOT find this dentist office. Of course, I ran out of data on my phone so I couldn’t look up the address without being charged huge sums of money. After standing on the corner for a while, trying to exercise my non-existent photographic memory, I gave up and just called the dentist.

“Hi, this is Erin. I have an appointment at 9 and I was just wondering where your location was exactly.”

She confirmed my appointment (again) and asked where I was coming from and if I had just gotten off of the subway.

“No, I live just down the street,” I said, which was embarrassing. I told her the intersection I lived at and the intersection I was at now.

“Oh! You walked right by us!” she said. Of course. She gave me a few landmarks to find – TD Bank, Loblaws, Maple Leaf Gardens… all things I’d walked by about 3 minutes ago. I stayed on the phone with her until I got to the door and she knew who I was as soon as I walked in. Somehow, I always manage to make an impression.

I filled out the necessary forms and they took me back for x-rays. X-rays involved me standing there and being very still. Needless to say, x-rays took a while to complete.

They tested my gums, my flossing… and my teeth. They did more x-rays which involved me lying down and biting on a plastic contraption that barely fit in my mouth. My own will power amazes me. I read a fitness fact once saying that what your body can do is 70% motivation and 30% actual physical capability. In other words, your brain controls your body and you need to harness your brain power in order to make your body do things it doesn’t want to do, like biting on an uncomfortable plastic thing. So these thoughts are running through my head and I’m trying to motivate myself to keep the huge thing in my mouth, even though it’s stabbing my gums. I feel my back start to sweat and I know my face is getting red and suddenly I start feeling dizzy when I am interrupted by the dental hygienist’s words, “Oh. I think I see a cavity.”

A wave of sorrow poured over me and I wanted to just sink down into that dentist chair onto that dentist floor into the dentist ground and disappear. “I can’t diagnose it, though, the dentist will have to do that.” There you go. That one last glimmer of hope.

The dentist came in and introduced herself. She was from Romania but she did her dental schooling here, at U of Toronto. She was nice and she makes her employees wear scrubs that are the same colour as the walls – lime green in some rooms and orange in others. She inspected me, flossed my teeth again and told me that they were healthy! What? No cavities? This was the best dentist ever!

Of course, I have been flossing diligently since my last 16-cavity traumatizing dentist experience. I guess this is my reward. Moral of the story: floss your teeth! Seriously.

After everything was nice and clean – which took an hour and a bit – it was on to the whitening. “You may feel a shooting pain,” said the hygienist, “but if you can tolerate it, please sit through the 30 minutes.” I have to be honest, I panicked a little bit here. Shooting pain? My nice free whitening was going to hurt me? However, my mouth was occupied with dental devices so I couldn’t ask her exactly what she meant. She put protection on my gums – which made them a nice bright blue colour. I had smurf teeth; it was awesome. Then it was time. She put the weird looking, buzzing machine against my mouth and left the room. 30 minutes of my thoughts and me – and possibly shooting pain. The machine was slightly heated and I could feel the radiation coming from it, making my teeth tense and weird. It was almost like a throbbing pain but it didn’t hurt. Twice during the treatment, my bottom jaw and teeth started to ache suddenly, so I just backed up from the machine and came back when I was ready. I probably didn’t get the full whitening because the machine scared me after that first pain… but I don’t mind. My teeth were white already; I just wanted the experience.

After 30 minutes, it was all over. I rinsed my mouth a thousand times to get the slimy stuff off and thanked the dentist, and left. In six months, I have to go back for another check-up.

Until then, I will keep flossing!

Stay flossy, readers.