Monday, May 15, 2006

Better living through cultural appropriation

"It's really not going to hurt," Dr. Siegel said, scary-looking dental tools in his hand.

I'm sure I looked like an abused puppy, but I was doing my best to be brave.

"I'll be just fine. As long as I can have sedation when I come back for my fillings." I said, spitting the last part out quickly.

"Sure," he said, making a note on his chart. "I mean, it won't hurt whether you have it or not, but you'll be calmer if you have the sedation. I can do it either way."

"Well," I said. "It seems to me that it will make your job easier to do if I'm not quite so tense."

The dentist laughed affably.

"Lady, I know you think you're scared, but believe me, you're an Israeli commando compared to some of the people I've had in this chair. Shall we finish your cleaning?"

I leaned back and opened my mouth, tensing for that awful scraping sound that accompanies a dental cleaning.

Scrape. Scrape.

Suddenly, unbidden, the words "Levi! Hold my AK-47 while I take a piss!" bubbled up to my brain as I pictured my Buddha-shaped self in brown camouflage with a canteen at my side. I had to stifle a smile to hold my mouth in the proper position.

Scrape. Scrape.

I thought about when I'd been listening to the two girls I used to babysit prepare for their bat mitvahs and one of them had said that the seven words that describe every Jewish holiday were "They attacked us, we won. Let's eat."

Yeah.

YEAH.

Scrape. Scrape.


And I thought about a close friend of LinguistFriend's whom I've never met, but who spent time in the Isreali army. LF's discriptions make her sound like the most badass person who has ever lived. SHE would be just fine in a dental chair, assuming the cavities weren't too afraid of her to set in in the first place.

Scrape. Scrape.

And somehow I survived it.

Maybe I can find an IDF beret to wear to my filling.

CC

9 comments:

LinguistFriend said...

CC:
Actually, my Israeli friend (indeed a tough cooky), who grew up in a kibbutz in the Negev desert where they had (and needed) caves to retreat to when attacked, avoided the dentist for some years while a student. Probably when she got her doctorate and moved to New York, where she practices as a speech pathologist treating opera singers, actors, and the like (and at least one person whom I think of as a prophet), she found an Israeli dentist who wouldn't take anything off her.
LinguistFriend

Joel Monka said...

I am one of those who make you look like a commando. After extensive torture during my childhood by a dentist who believed that snapping "Don't be a baby!" was a good substitute for drugs, I required counseling and sedation to return as an adult. Even so, I found it necessary to explain that i got hurt, he got hurt. (I'm 6'1", 300lbs) Fortunately, he understood; evidently many adults my age (50+) had experiences like that, and that today pediatric dentistry is handled quite differently. Thank God.

Psyton said...

Joel: ick

I remember they slammed the nitrous on me so quick I didn't really remember my dentist moments. They showed me how to raise my hand if I had any discomfort (and made sure I still knew what to do several times into the procedure) since I was given a bite block and a mint-flavored latex sheild that kept stuff from falling into my mouth.

and I still had problems with clean dental bills-of-health until I turned about 22 and got my own dental insurance and bills *giggle*

Kim said...

CC -- why are you letting the dentist clean your teeth? Surely they have hygienists in your area? Letting the dentist do hygiene is like letting the midwife do your caesarian section. The hygienist is the specialist. Find a hygienist who has sensitive teeth herself (and is compassionate), and if you hate the scraping sound, ask them to try the ultrasonic scaler on you: most people love it, less than one person in a hundred is sensitive to it.

Chalicechick said...

Kim,

I meant no insult to the Dental Hygienists of the world, I can assure you. I knew I needed a few fillings and I went to the dentist’s office so he could talk about what I needed done and the best way to go about it given my fear of dentistry. In the process, he cleaned my teeth.

CC

TheCSO said...

Interestingly, my current dentist cleans my teeth himself rather than using a hygenist. Does at least as good a job as any hygenist I've had, including the great one I had for many years as a kid.

Kim said...

CSO -- How do you know?
I had a friend who was convinced his dentist was doing a good job because he "went around every tooth and his strokes were very confident." It turned out the dentist was doing almost nothing --not going below the gumline -- and did quite a bit of damage through neglect.
While some dentists do do a good job, they have nowhere near the training at it that a hygienist (in most states) has. The dentist usually has about as much training in cleaning as I do in doing fillings.
Maybe you only need a minor cleaning? Do you have any periodontal pockets? Gingival inflammation? Rough root surfaces? Subgingival calculus?

TheCSO said...

Kim - that sounds like clear malpractice. Was he able to get some sort of recovery?

Could you point me to some information regarding this? I can't find anything about it.

I've taken a look through the ADHA's position papers, and they don't seem to have anything arguing that dental hygenists are *better* at oral prophylaxis than dentists. They do seem concerned, and rightly so, about the efforts in some areas to allow non-licensed dental assistants to perform procedures that are currently reserved for licensed dental hygenists and dentists.

Kim said...

Kim - that sounds like clear malpractice. Was he able to get some sort of recovery?
I don't think he even tried. His mother went to that dentist too, and when he told his mom that the dentist was incompetant, his mother said, "Oh, I know that, but I LIKE him."

Could you point me to some information regarding this? I can't find anything about it.
Like what? I talked to a new young dentist who, when I asked how much training he had in prophylaxis (cleaning), he said, "One afternoon. Most of that was a movie. And you know what dental students do during a movie -- they catch up on their sleep." So, a few years ago, at the dental convention, I went to each of the dental school tables and asked the people there how much training in prophylaxis their dental students get. Most of them had no answer to my question, but the ones who did varied from two days to two weeks.(It's improved since it was two hours.) Hygienists get a minimum of two years.

I've taken a look through the ADHA's position papers, and they don't seem to have anything arguing that dental hygenists are *better* at oral prophylaxis than dentists. They do seem concerned, and rightly so, about the efforts in some areas to allow non-licensed dental assistants to perform procedures that are currently reserved for licensed dental hygenists and dentists.
Why would there be a position paper on it? That wouldn't be very politic when we are still very much under their jurisdiction. It really wasn't expressed as an official opinion -- I don't speak for anyone but me, so it's just my opinion. But dentists, in the form of the American Dental Association, are trying to state that a dental prophylaxis doesn't include subgingival cureting, whereas every dental hygiene school teaches that subgingival curettage and root planing as needed is included in a regular prophylaxis. For the ADA to state otherwise means they are either dishonest or ignorant. They either are trying to establish neglect as the standard of practise in order to stop preventing periodontal disease so that they can make more money treating periodontal disease, or they do not understand how important a thorough prophylaxis is in preventing periodontal disease.