Dear Future Dentist,
Hello there. It’s me, your future patient. Although we don’t even know each other’s names, I think about you all the time. Where are you at this very moment? You could be a wizened orthodontist, the tips of your grey beard poking out from beneath your facemask as you uproot a tooth from a bratty kid with more force than necessary. Or perhaps you’re a baby-faced dental student, guzzling sugar-free cola and celery sticks to stay awake during an all-nighter. Either way, I don’t care. I know that when the time comes you will be ready for me.
Before I go to bed each night, I fantasize about the day we first meet. Hopefully it will be under the happy circumstance of a regular dental check up. Me, flouncing into your practice, the smell of Formocresol and Eugenol intermingling with my lavender perfume and you, welcoming me with a smile. More likely it’ll be me, stumbling around in a grease-stained shirt, an unwholesome smell emanating from my mouth and one cheek protruding like a beer belly, and you, fist deep in some other girl’s oral cavity. While I wait to be seen I’ll idly flip through a National Geographic from two years ago, taking breaks to stare at the floral gingham wallpaper border you ever so tastefully chose. Then–finally–I will be summoned by one of your assistants, and my tooth will throb for you. I am ready too.
My name is Christine, but soon you’ll refer to me as “Miss McLennan.” Are you going to engage me in conversation as you plant an array of rigid metal shoots in my mouth, watering them with care? I’d accept you all the same if you worked in silence. And the hands–I get chills dreaming about the hands that will one day find themselves in the vilest yet most intimate of places. Sometimes in my imaginings they have the touch of an adroit pianist, delicately traversing the overplayed ivories of my mouth. At other times they are the hands of a woodworker, rough and brawny yet confident as they chisel away hunks of rotting tooth.
Anyway, enough daydreaming. Here is what I need you to know about me:
1. I’m Damaged. From fillings to an abcess tooth, from crowns to root canals and teeth that just go missing without a trace, I have an extensive dental history. But don’t let that scare you. I promise to divulge everything to you, warts and all. On a totally unrelated note, do patients have to disclose to their dentists whether or not they have HPV?
2. I’m not perfect. To be completely honest, I haven’t flossed in three days or brushed in five. Every dentist I’ve ever had orders me to get a night guard because I grind my teeth, but I just won’t listen. I’m stubborn.
3. BUT–I will change for you. I will floss every day for a week after I visit you, after which point I will probably forget again. Heck, maybe I’ll even go and buy that mouth guard, try it for a night and realise I hate it before using it to hold my skittles for late night snacks. Can’t make any promises on the teeth brushing front.
4. I will help you to grow. Your practice will thrive from the thousands of dollars I pay trying to keep this sewage pit from imploding on itself.
Well, that’s all from me. I simply cannot wait until the day I can finally call you mine.
P.S. Please don’t tell my current dentist I wrote this letter. He gets jealous and wouldn’t take it too well.