A mortal fear of dental hygienistsby Sam Leith / March 20, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
What’s your deepest darkest fear? Mine, I’ve come to realise over the course of time, may actually be dental hygienists. This, please feel free to refrain from pointing out, explains why my teeth are smelly and caramel-coloured and I’m going to spend the last decades of my life eating only soup.
Why hygienists? It’s dentists, I know, that scare most people more—with their whining drills, needles dripping anaesthetic and enthusiasm for kneeling on your chest and ripping things out of your face with pliers. Many a case of dental caries, to be sure, has gone untreated as a direct result of Laurence Olivier’s performance in Marathon Man. Hygienists are regarded as their more or less herbivorous cousins.
That’s the way I felt, back in the day. For most of my twenties my beef with hygienists was not that I feared them, but that I simply couldn’t see the point of them. With dentists, at least, you knew where you were: if you have a hole in your tooth, the dentist is the go-to guy. The procedure might not be pleasant, but at the end of it you’ll either have no hole in your tooth, or no tooth. Badda-bing badda-boom.