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What it's like to have a friend with benefits - dental benefits, that is.
When it comes to saving the world, Earth has many heroes. Some wear badges and uniforms, placing their lives on the line to solve crime and make their community a safer place. Others wear helmets and gear and equip themselves with powerful hoses to extinguish dangerous fires, rescuing people’s loved ones from certain doom. And let’s not forget about the men and women who risk their lives on foreign soil fighting for our freedom on a regular basis.
These are the well-known heroes, the ones we never take for granted … but what of the heroes who don’t share in their glory? What of the everyday heroes who show up and answer the call time and time again, who make a difference each and every day, committing selfless acts of compassion, courage and patience? Well, it’s time we recognize these unsung, hardworking heroes. It’s time we recognize dental hygienists’ significant others everywhere!
Let’s hear it for the boys (and girls) who, through brain osmosis and sheer, raw exposure to the end-of-day tirades of their dental hygienist counterparts, can no longer appreciate the nuances of meeting friends without silently acknowledging the presence of “perio breath” emanating from the person or people in front of them. Due to our proximity to our learned mouth warriors, these partners are able to point out someone’s diastema from several blocks away, which has severely impacted their appreciation for the comedic talents of former late-night host David Letterman or the musical mastery of Madonna. Let’s face it, we know too much!
Of course, I say “we” because I am part of this cherished group. My girlfriend is a dental hygienist and a supremely talented one at that. I wouldn’t have the teeth I have today had it not been for her incredible care and concern for my bicuspids. I have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to her. Things like having the iron stomach to sit through after-work stories about her adventures dancing around her patients’ gross gum lines in desperate need for SRPs on all four quadrants. As if the intensely descriptive verbal imagery weren’t enough, we get actual pictures to burn into our retinas. We know what neglect looks like because it becomes the stuff of nightmares!
But it’s not all bad being the significant other of a powerhouse dental hygienist. Let’s not forget about all the free swag from the dental conferences they attend! I haven’t had to buy a new toothbrush in YEARS! We have so many toothbrushes that our guests who stay over at our house leave with all sorts of tools for taming their teeth. It’s like an episode of “Oprah” - you get a toothbrush, you get a toothbrush, YOU GET A TOOTHBRUSH! And toothpaste? Fuggetaboutit! What flavor would you like? Do you like mint? What about whitening? What’s your stance on xylitol? Are your teeth sensitive? We’ve got you covered! Your insurance may only cover you for two to three visits a year, but at our house, your dental benefits are unlimited. Now, my biggest hurdle to overcome is simply remembering to charge my electric toothbrush. It’s too bad I don’t have someone in the industry to remind me to - oh wait…
And being a dental hygienist’s loved one extends far beyond free floss; I get to use dental visits as a way out of work! Hmm, my boss isn’t going to read this, right? If I’m just not feeling the whole cubicle life one day, dating a dental hygienist equals being able to call an audible and feign the dire need for a full-mouth debridement or perhaps an intraoral assessment of my Class I occlusion, or maybe even pulling out the big guns and wowing my boss with phrases like “The insertion point is at the height of the mucobuccal fold,” or “Streptococcus mutans are gram-positive cocci-shaped bacteria.” Those are sure to get me out of work for a few hours so that I can either go home and play video games OR actually surprise my ginger-headed gingival goddess with a tasty lunch from Chipotle.
The excuses are nice, but sometimes we don’t get to call the shots on when we go in for a dental visit. Sometimes, the appointments are impromptu. When we least expect them … When we least desire them … But, that’s the plight of a dental hygienist’s partner. Our mouths are not our own. We lost that right when we agreed to make our romance Facebook official. My mouth is now under the care and surveillance of my hottie hygienist, and since she plans on kissing this mouth on a regular basis, I don’t put up a fuss. Ahem, I don’t put up MUCH of a fuss. I know that, at the end of the day, she just wants my mouth looking spick and span. Not unlike how she wants the inside of our home to look, or the front and back yards. To date a dental hygienist is to know and appreciate the degree of their OCD, ahem, detail-oriented demeanor.
For each and every appointment, they probe and pry and scrub and scrape and scale until each and every patient leaves with a mouth free of dental caries. They dig down deep below the gum line to prevent bone loss and gum disease. That extreme level of OCD, ahem, precision, “caries” (you’re welcome) over into their personal lives. We boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and/or wives of dental hygienists have all witnessed the sheer joy on the faces of our plaque-plowing partners when they introduce a wet mop doused with Fabuloso to the tile floor regularly traipsed on by three hairy hounds. It’s a wonder to behold.
So, for these reasons and more, it’s important to recognize and appreciate the experience of being loved by a dental hygienist. They work hard for us. They work hard ON us. They devote their time, hearts and bodies to the painstaking art of protecting our mouths from infection and disease. We might be the heroes of their world for putting up with their oral hygiene antics, but in truth, they’re the true heroes. So, let’s keep their scrub tops and bottoms paired up, clean, pressed and ready to go because our dental hygienists make the world a better place - one smile at a time.