A Measure And A Cleaning
At 20, I'm an old man.
That's the message I get from my hygienist after she's finished measuring the gaps between my gums and my teeth. While she did that, she might have been pulling numbers out of anywhere: "Three, two, two, three, four, three, four, two, three..."
The rule of the game is that numbers above three are bad. She quizzes me on where I had the most fours. Where I did have the most fours is a normal trouble spot for adults. She tells me that it's not alarming now, but as I'm getting older (because I'm already old) my gums will continue to loosen. Eventually, my teeth will pop out like popping Dentyne Ice from its packet. I'll be left with two options: to get dentures or to commit to an all liquid diet.
She moves on to the cleaning. She scrapes my teeth with her dental instruments. As she cleans my teeth, I taste the iron from my blood as it pools.
At some point, the sound of metal scraping on teeth fades away with the radio. I think about what I'm doing here. I've gone to an office, sat in a recliner and allowed someone, who I see twice a year, to stick her fingers and metal tools in my mouth. It's hard making sense of this.
She polishes my teeth and tells me the date for my next cleaning. I'm given a blue toothbrush and a smile to bleed for.