Yesterday when Nancy picked up her daughter from my daughter's birthday party, she walked in the kitchen making a face.
Her mouth was all puckered up as she asked me, "Have you heard about the new fluoride treatment?"
Several of my friends and I take our families to the same dentist. This is part of being in a small town. You share the same dentist, the same doctors, the same grocery stores and the same sized water bills.
As Nancy wrinkled her nose, she explained that she had just come from the dentist, "They have a new fluoride treatment that they paint on. It's much more effective, lasts longer, but it leaves this film on your teeth that makes them feel fuzzy."
"Thanks for the heads up," I said, "we're going to the dentist tomorrow."
My daughter and I showed up at the dentist office today, armed with the warning. I climbed in the chair first.
The hygienist donned her best mask, gloved up and began. Sometimes I get a hygienist who believes the scraping (for lack of the proper dental term) is her chance to inflict pain on the helpless, but this hygienist was one of the special ones. She was both gentle and efficient. I'll bet she graduated top of her class.
Another hygienist popped her head in to call my daughter over to the next chair. I waved good-bye while trying not to drool too much, and waited for the polish treatment.
My hygienist looked at her shiny tray and said,"All I have is cookie dough flavor. Would you rather have mint? I can ask someone to get me some."
"No, that's Okay," I answered, "I eat cookie dough."
She giggled. That's when I knew she was normal.
Once she was done, I declared the cookie dough to be truly authentic and suggested that anyone on a diet should just forgo eating the real thing and just have their teeth cleaned.
She giggled again. That's when I knew she was just humoring me.
Within a few minutes, the dentist walked in. We said our polite "how are you doing's?" and she looked at my x-rays.
As she rolled her chair alongside me, I said jokingly, "I heard about your new fluoride treatment."
You could hear floss drop.
The dentist and the assistant exchanged glances.
My dentist then asked,"From who?"
I stammered and hemmed and hawed. I started laughing nervously under the pressure of that little swivel light and said, "I don't know if I should say."
Refusing to buckle under the pressure, I kept Nancy's identity to myself.
I mean, this is how Elaine Benes ended up.
Attempting to stifle the awkward, I assured the dentist that the person was fine with the treatment, that she just wanted to warn me about the fuzzy fluoride.
I then went on to tell her that my friend had once won Dental Patient of The Year for flossing after each meal and showing up at filling appointments an hour early.
My dentist launched into a heartfelt oral essay on the effectiveness of the new fluoride and how badly she feels for making her patients' teeth feel fuzzy. There were percentages and studies with lots of letters and acronyms. By the end of her speech, I felt sorry for her.
She convinced me (almost) that she didn't take it personally and left with a recently whitened smile on her face.
When the assistant walked in with the new fuzzy fluoride treatment, she asked,"Don't you want it?"
I eagerly, insincerely said, "OH, YES!" and chose the melon flavor.
When it was all done, my mouth tasted like cantaloupe and my teeth felt like they needed brushing. Ironic.
Sitting up in the chair, I saw my daughter had returned.
"Do you have fuzzy teeth, too?" I asked her.
"What toothpaste did you get? I got cookie dough. What did you have? Bubble gum?"
"Yes. Ahhhh, man," she said in disappointment.
My hygienist turned to her and said,"You can have cookie dough for your next cleaning."
I added, "Yep. It tastes great. Just like cookie dough. Although it's not that great with the melon chaser."