My mother is an adorable person. She is 5′ 2.5″, compassionate, and very agreeable and well-liked. She’s a 6th grade special education teacher and has enormous amounts of patience (as any good teacher must). I don’t think there is anyone as selfless as my mom.
My aunt (her sister-in-law) works at her school, and her and another teacher have recently decided they need to get WWJD bracelets — What Would Jimmie Do (my mom=Jimmie). She just seems to always get it right, which is probably due to her ability to get along with just about anyone.
The only thing that can bring her out of her amiable disposition, apparently, is if you talk about her teeth.
Now, it must be understood, my mom has great teeth and a beautiful smile. I have definitely inherited my obsession with oral hygiene from her. So, it would admittedly be quite frustrating if someone raised her self-administered oral care into question.
My mother had a dentist appointment today – a regular teeth cleaning. She gets one every six months,as she is supposed to. They usually go pretty smoothly – my mom brushes her teeth twice, flosses, and uses mouthwash every day*. She is a first-rate patient, the kind dental hygienists dream of. But this hygienist was difficult to please.
As soon as my mom opened her mouth, the hygienist exclaimed, “MY, you have a lot of tarter on your teeth! Oh my goodness!” My mother was a little taken aback. The hygienist insisted she needed to put a special solution on her teeth before she began the cleaning process because of all the excess tarter that had accumulated on my dainty, suburban mother’s teeth**.
All throughout the cleaning, the hygienist went on and on about Mom’s extraordinarily tartery teeth. She asked if my mom used an electric toothbrush; when my mom said yes and vaguely referenced what kind, the hygienist gave a sighing “WELL, you get what you pay for” and started telling her how she needed to buy a fancy, expensive toothbrush (apparently to make up for her inadequate brushing). She also inquired if my mother ever flossed, to which she tartly replied “Every day,” no doubt holding back the urge to bite down on the hygienist’s plastic gloved finger.
Somewhere near the end, the hygienist must have picked up on my mother’s tense temperament, and she asked, “Have I offended you?”
I believe if it had been any other situation, my mother would have dismissed the whole thing quietly; after all, she does not like unnecessary conflict. But this was about teeth, and my mother was not about to back down.
Yes, actually, the hygienist HAD offended her. She took excellent care of her teeth, thank you very much, and she didn’t come there to be reprimanded like a child with six cavities. She did not need to be shown how to floss – since she did it thoroughly every day, she was quite familiar with the process. And yes, maybe there was a little natural build up on her teeth, the likes of which accrues on every human being’s teeth. But certainly 95% of the patients at that office, or any other dentist’s office for that matter, had much worse teeth and took far worse care of them than her. And that’s why she came to get her teeth cleaned in the first place, isn’t it? To get them cleaned.
And, my personal favorite part of my mother’s uncharacteristic rant, “You know, actually, you may have had my daughter in here about six months ago? Apparently she had a very similar experience, so I’m sure this isn’t the first time someone has said this to you.”
At the end of the appointment, the hygienist clipped “Well, I guess you want someone else to do your next cleaning?” Um, yes. Please.
And it also was not the same hygienist who cleaned (rather, mutilated) my teeth six months ago. To be fair, the girls that did my x-rays and cleaned my teeth a week ago were both perfectly sweet and delightful.
One thing we can all learn from this? DON’T mess with my mom.
(*Note: Sorry, mom, for detailing your daily routine on the internet, but I must present the facts)
(**Another note: Dainty and suburban in all the good ways, not the bad. She knows how to work hard, believe me. If she wasn’t so great, I wouldn’t be so careful in telling this story)
(Oh yeah, and my mom gets all credit IN PRINT for the two chairs recently added to my apartment.)