Five Visual Distraction Tactics to Make When Your Dental Hygienist Asks If You’ve Been Flossing

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By: Mackenzie Moore

If you’re like me, you are always caught with your face slack as Saturday sweatpants when your dental hygienist asks “the question”. Fortunately, I have a series of moves to help you evade answering. These are tried and true tactics I regularly employ when I make my bi-annual return to the suburbs for a visit with my dear, elderly hygienist named Greta. 

 

1. The raised left eyebrow:

Are you ashamed to admit you’ve been slacking? Did you genuinely just forget? Are you on a high horse of the dental sort? If so, listen up. When asked, raise your left eyebrow. The secret to the raised eyebrow lies in the overall composition of the face; the brow must flex upward while keeping the rest of the face all business. You must exude an ethos of, Who? Moi? through only those tiny brow hairs. This demonstrates that heinous crimes of the mouth couldn’t possibly be your foray.

 

  1. The exaggerated sigh (with visible exhale): 

Every few years, Greta will be out galavanting ‘round the globe and I have my teeth cleaned instead by Susan, a lovely woman who is also prone to guilt. The exaggerated sigh is the easiest repeller technique to use with her, because when I pepper in the slow burn of the sigh, her gloved hands immediately snap back in retreat. I’ve found it’s possible to say, “Really? Are we going through this again?” without so much as a click of my bite blocked tongue. Give it a go!

 

  1. The grimace:

At this point in my relationship with Greta, I’m actually comfortable admitting my shortcomings. She’s known my teeth well before all their addictions: Coffee, ginger chews, La (blesse’d) Croix. When I’m too tired to engage in the delicate tango of evasion, I’ve found the best way to express a “mea culpa” is to simply grimace. It 

indicates not only sorrow and regret, but squanders away the precious energy I need to withstand the rest of the cleaning, as my gums usually proceed onward to their crucifiction. This honesty usually prompts Greta to coo gentle words of encouragement towards my face before she savagely scrapes away at my gumline.

 

  1. The dead eyes: 

Be forewarned: this is an advanced technique for the well seasoned patient ready to make waves. I’ve only used it during an awkward moment with a dentist in New York I saw in a haphazard attempt to stay on my cleaning schedule. If you are so bold as to use it, you must gloss over your eyes suddenly, as if blinded by Krispy Kreme glaze. Not only do dead eyes say, “I haven’t the capacity to entertain this question,” they create a deep and stark chasm between you and your hygienist that must be addressed. Dead eyes are a means to an end, so if you’re dissatisfied with the bedside manner of your cleanings, looking to air out grievances from years ago regarding your flouride treatments, or simply break up with your hygienist, this is your move.

 

  1. All teeth, no smile: 

I’ve been fortunate enough to champion this move about once a decade, most recently in December of 2016. I was flossing. I was a steward of careful dental maintenance, and I was tired of being questioned like a petulant child every six months. So I flashed. My. Biters. If you too want to show your pride, feel free to crane your lips back with no indication of a smile. Doing so tells your hygienist that you are an adult who has heeded the warnings of yesteryear, and that you put your Oral B minted wax where your mouth is. I encourage you to then crawl out of that sterile, crinkly plastic chair with your chin held high, because you will promptly unlearn this diligence and won’t flourish this technique again for another ten years.