Is It Socially Acceptable to Stalk Your Dental Hygienist?
Everybody in the waiting room was visibly annoyed, but I couldn’t stop tapping my foot. Anxiety was somersaulting through my muscles, and I had to release some of that kinetic energy before it would explode inside my chest.
I was as annoyed as the other patients. My fear had almost dissipated in the two years I’d been coming here. The last time I sat here, my stress levels were nearly zero, and now they were worse than ever before. I contemplated leaving — just grab my stuff and walk out.
But I had already learned the hard way what happens when you don’t go to a dentist for four years. So I waited until Alex beckoned me to come in. “I am not happy, Alex,” I said as I climbed into his chair.
He didn’t look up and kept thumbing through my file. He pointed at a poster of a woman with a gorgeous smile. “You should be taking pictures like that with your beautiful teeth; I still don’t understand why you are so afraid.”
I sighed. I know I have good teeth now. But it came at a painful price. I used to have horrible teeth as a kid. I had a massive overbite, and because some of my baby teeth refused to fall out, I looked like a shark with a double row of teeth.
When my dentist extracted four of my stubborn teeth and molars, it was such a massacre in my mouth I passed out from the pain and anxiety. And that was the start of a painful two-year trajectory, where braces would forcefully push and pull all my teeth to their assigned locations. Every trip to the orthodontist ended in tears.
I was in pain all the time. My gums would often bleed, I had blisters on the inside of my cheeks where the metal would rip through my skin, and worse of all — I was scared to smile in public because someone had once compared me to Jaws, the James Bond villain with steel teeth.
And yes, to 13-year-old me, getting ridiculed by my peers was way worse than having a mouth full of blood and blisters.
Almost thirty years later, I’m still amazed by the results. Even though I was miserable for two years, and I was ashamed of my cheap welfare braces, I am so grateful my parents applied for assistance so they…