the hygienist

It’s not everyday, one gets to experience what a mouthful of blood feels like. Well I did. Today. I went in for my routine dentist check-up where the same ringing questions arise every six months: do you drink a lot of coffee or tea and are you flossing everyday? The answers are yes and yes. My dental hygienist begins to probe and poke and scrap. I feel as if I have lost several half-tooths. My gums are sore, and my palms are sweaty. I started to wonder if she was upset. My appointment was at 8:20 a.m. and so something that bothered her last night may have carried over to the morning. This happens to me a lot. Also, the weather is becoming really cold and bitter. Sunlight is diminishing, and the Maine winter is settling in. The innate grumpiness within natives is present. Pretty things are dying inversely paralleling to the rise of pain in my mouth. It starts to fill with more and more blood as she continues. The taste is unlike any other. How does one compare the taste of blood to anything else? It is the most instinctive sensation like that of a penguin’s journey to return to mating grounds. She rinses my mouth and gums with a cold, flowing water tube and inserts a dry tube to suck up the fill. She has many cartilage piercings which I thought were okay to look at. She said everything looked fine and smiled briefly as she slipped out. I took my miniature toiletries out of the room and set up another appointment with the warm secretary. I examined my teeth in the rear view mirror of my car, feeling the smoothness and the crevices of my teeth. My dentist appointment left me feeling a small discomfort, a sense of relief for another 6 month waiting period, and most of all, a curiosity of my interaction with the hygienist.

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