Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Liars and the Dentist

Today I went to my own dentist for a check up and cleaning. They had a cancellation so I got in right away. As she was getting ready to clean my teeth the hygienist asked why I had not been in for more than a year after getting regular check ups. I told where I had been and she said, "That's the first excuse I have heard in a long time that I believe."

Then she asked me about how the war was going, but since she was cleaning my teeth while she asked, she answered her own question. "You never get the real story from the media. They just say what they want to. They make it up."

When she took a break I said I thought the media had a very tough job. "Many people they deal with are lying, shading the truth, and making things up. Reporters have to figure out what part of the things they say are true and why they are saying them. It would be like having patients who walked into your office, smiled and denied they had teeth. Or walked in with a broken tooth and said 'Nothing is wrong.' Or say 'flossing is proof that the government is trying to control our lives.'"

Going back to her earlier comment she said, "But patients do lie to me. I get people coming in after no check ups for five years saying, 'I was here last year.' and there records are right here on the counter. And people come to me with bleeding gums and say, 'I floss almost every day.'"

She went on to say that she can't tell the people who don't floss they are lying so she has to say something like, "Let's work on your flossing technique."

I came away with a new respect for the difficulties of her job. She also told me that when she gives the patients who neglect their teeth a thorough cleaning they go to the receptionist afterwards and say they do not want "that hygienist" because she hurts them. I hope looks at the media a little differently now that she knows how much news sources and dental patients have in common.

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