Smile like you mean it.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my periodontist. Wonder of wonders, I was early for an 8 a.m. appointment.

Yes, I do believe in miracles.

As usual, the waiting room was filled with people old enough to be my grandparents … and me. I’ve been seeing the gum doctor for seven years and have survived two totally disgusting gingival grafts … which is a nice term for taking skin from the roof of my mouth and stapling it to where my gums are supposed to be.

Anyway, yesterday, they had me fill out a new medical questionnaire. It was four single-spaced pages long.

No, I don’t have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or glaucoma. But one of the check boxes was for “Anxiety problems.”

I didn’t check it. Yeah, I have anxiety. No, it’s not a problem. Yeah, I’m on Zoloft. Shut up.

Later, I decided that they probably meant “Are you going to lose your shit when we touch your teeth?”

I do not lose my shit. I always see the same hygienist. She’s a very smiley, very kind Asian woman with a very, very thick accent. Her name is Rebecca.

Rebecca and I have a weird understanding. As in, I don’t understand her. I can carry on a conversation with her, but once she puts on the little paper mask and then the big plastic face shield? She says stuff like “Twana la hackna wa rhododeren.”

Now, at the beginning of our relationship, a visit to Rebecca filled me with anxiety. She is so nice, and I want to do what she asks, but I just didn’t know what, exactly, she was asking me. Now, after seven magical years together, I have a pretty good idea of how she works her way around my mouth.

I now know that “Twana la hackna wa rhododeren” means “Turn a little towards me.” I also know that when in doubt, just smile and accept the three extra toothbrushes.

The periodontist himself is super nice but always calls me “kid.” Yesterday, he actually paired “kid” with a pinch on my cheek. I felt both adorable and completely disgusted.

But my teeth look good. And my gums are still holding them upright. Sometimes I think that part of being a woman (or maybe an adult in general?) is letting people get away with stuff when really it’s just how you get what you want.

And what I want are teeth. In my mouth. That don’t fall out. So far, so good.

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