I got all the shit genes.
Eczema, eye squint, allergies, colour blindness…you name it. But I don’t count bad teeth amongst that. Bad teeth are as culturally significant to the British population as Aunt Bessie and Simon Cowell’s chest hair.
Americans have the right to bear arms, Brits have the right to dodgy teeth. But every so often, we rediscover our moral compass and go to the dentist.
Today was one of those days. And here’s how it went down.
1. I walked in, they heard my accent, and this is what they saw:
2. While the main receptionist kept me distracted, the second one was busy clearing the Dentist’s schedule for the rest of the week.
3. I had to fill in what seemed like a hundred forms, mostly focused on my imminent demise. Emergency contacts. Insurance info. Bank details. Consent to let them be the last people to see me alive.
4. In the UK you get mundane things to stare at while you’re in the dentist’s chair – posters of doors in Ireland, letterboxes in Cornwall. Over here I had a flat screen TV showing 3D diagrams and live footage from the inside of my mouth. Must be a dentist’s idea of Netflix and chill.
5. I was asked if I was “happy” with how my teeth looked, which was either a genuine question, or a threat. A bit like when the school bully asks you if you like hospital food.
6. My dentist is a morbid son of a bitch. When he was checking the milk teeth I still have (don’t judge), he commented:
‘They’re holding up well. Hopefully you’ll have them until the end.’
The end? As in, the end of this appointment, or my lifetime?
Maybe for my dentist, they were one and the same.
7. When it was all over, he flicked a switch to reveal that I’d been sitting in a massage chair all that time. Bastard.
8. I started to relax, and it was lovely. Until I overheard the office staff calculating my bill. That part was more painful than root canal. I’d been left alone with the dentist’s tools so at that point I contemplated just doing it myself.
9. As a new patient, I was entitled to a free gift. Among other choices, a $25 coffee coupon, $20 to spend at Cold Stone Creamery (an ice cream parlour), or 1lb of See’s Candy (a chocolatier and confectioner).
Now if that isn’t the best customer retention strategy in the world, I don’t know what is.
p.s. A British male can’t talk about dentist chairs without thinking of this.