Sweet Surrender

Posted on Saturday 3 February 2007

Some 18 months ago, I went to the dentist, keeping my twice-a-year appointment like clockwork. All was good, as always. Sure, I could floss a little more, but couldn’t everyone? Otherwise, perfection.

“See you in six months,” said my hygienist.

“It’ll be winter when I see you again, and we’ll complain about the cold,” said the dentist on this blistering hot day.

“Hard to believe we’ll be past the holidays at your next check-up,” said the appointment secretary.

“Bye,” I waved to everyone.

The following week I started my new gig in the restaurant biz. The week after that, I discovered that Sweet Tarts and Spree candy actually work better to energize the mind and body than a double Starbucks Red Eye or a can of any foul-tasting, caffeine-laden energy drink. In fact, I found I could scarf the sour-sweet treats all day and not faint from fatigue and hunger after working a breakless seven-hour shift, breakfast being a distant joke.

When the dentist’s office called to remind me about my six-month appointment, I postponed it. No time in my ever-changing schedule to schedule it.

When my dentist’s office called to remind me I was now three months overdue for the six-month appointment, I got on their calendar, then cancelled a day before.

When my dentist’s office stopped calling, I stopped thinking about the dentist.

And I kept eating those Sweet Tarts and Spree candies, more than willing to share the melt-in-your-mouth jolts of flavor with the other hosts, the chefs, the managers. I got us all hooked on my version of workplace crack.

When I had my brief interlude in fine dining, I brought my candy with me, sometimes chasing the Sweet Tarts with the granular contents of a couple of straws of Pixy Stix. Candy doubled as my fruit, stood in for vegetables, masqueraded as protein. I bulked up on “real” food on my rare day off, usually pounding buckets of French fries as if to counteract the previous six days’ worth of sugar ingestion with hot, fat-dipped carbs. And aren’t potatoes considered to be a vegetable?

I was, in my mind, the picture of health, because all my clothes got too big. I mean, if you go down a size or two eating whatever the hell you have time for, and it’s mostly sugar and fat, how terrible could that be? Could I write it up and publish it as the new miracle weight-loss plan?

Sure, with one caveat: “All those embarking on this weight-loss plan should make time for brushing their teeth nine times a day or have adequate dental insurance.”

I didn’t, and I don’t.

When I finally went to the dentist last week on a rogue weekday off, I caused a bit of a stir by showing up after a year-and-a-half, and again when my digital X-rays showed several distinct dark shadows on my previously one-tiny-cavity-filled-without-novacaine-twenty-years-ago-otherwise-perfect teeth.

Cavities? Moi? No, no. I am a child of the Crest generation, which, coupled with city water amply treated with fluoride and the availability of multiple brands of cool electric toothbrushes, means: We don’t GET cavities!

“Sorry, Restaurant Gal. You have three,” chirped my dentist, a little too perky.

I get them filled next week.

I have already begged for all gases and drugs that can be legally administered by a dentist. “No problem,” smiled my dentist. “These are small cavities. You probably don’t need anything.”

Oh, yes I do, doc. I can stare down the biggest pain-in-the-ass VIP who demands a table for six at 8 p.m. on a Saturday, but I am a self-proclaimed wuss when it comes to needles and drills directed toward my mouth.

Sadly, I also admit that I likely have to sack the sugar, ban the bonbons, cold-turkey the candy.

Damn.

With five days and counting until drill meets pearly whites, I am, however, eating whatever candy I want. Do not judge me by this. Think of me as a two-pack-a-day smoker gearing up to give it up.

But if anyone knows of a magic elixir that transforms purple Sweet Tarts into something wonderful for one’s teeth, you know where to reach me.

10 Comments for 'Sweet Surrender'

  1.  
    February 3, 2007 | 10:38 pm
     

    I have 5 teenagers who eat candy whenever I’m not looking. Act mouthwash helps tons…just my two cents worth.
    Sorry to hear about the cavities. Take an MP3 player with you and listen to music while they drill. It helps.

  2.  
    sueybear
    February 4, 2007 | 1:10 pm
     

    Hey RG, I’m in the process of having a bunch of dental work done after er, failing to visit the dentist for 18 years (to be fair, this is because UK dentists are awful).
    Now I’m in the US, I have no excuse. Just get the standard shot of novocaine, and you’ll be fine. It’s nowhere near as bad as your brain tells you it is 🙂

  3.  
    February 4, 2007 | 1:50 pm
     

    Well, safe to say that only sucks a lot. Keep thinking of it in your mind about just how bad it is going to be. Build yourself up to completely regret it. Do that and once it gets here before you know it you will be thinking “nah that wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.”

    BD

  4.  
    February 4, 2007 | 2:52 pm
     

    I hear the pre-novocaine shot gel they can swipe on your gums is helpful. Maybe you could ask for that? I absolutely despise going to the dentist. Even just the thought puts me on edge. Good luck!

  5.  
    February 4, 2007 | 6:43 pm
     

    Good luck at the dentist RG. I’m with you in asking for whatever they can give me – I’m a wuss too.

    Also as a diabetic, I know it’s not easy to give up the sweet stuff. You’ll also be doing your pancreas a favour if you cut down the sugar. Most non-diabetics pancreas’ can handle it, but it still sounds like you’re giving it a real workout with firstly the sugar and then the potato on days off.

  6.  
    Nick
    February 5, 2007 | 7:54 am
     

    I wish I could go back in the past and tell myself to brush and floss everyday. After having a root canal and two crowns replaced this year – I hate the dentist.

  7.  
    Julie
    February 5, 2007 | 10:07 am
     

    I hate having dental work done, but love my dentist. I think that makes all the difference. Throughout my childhood, my mom sent me to the local dentist. While I was in college, I still went to him because he was familiar. Every time, I was completely uncomfortable with him — I’m sure he was harmless and nothing odd ever happened other than being called “Peanut” or “Sport.”

    But after my experiences with him, I didn’t go to a dentist for about 10 years. Luckily, I found a great dentist and hygienist when I finally worked up the courage. Then, I moved across the country, and I found another great dentist. Now, I’m living somewhere in the middle and need to find one again because it’s time for my six-month check and cleaning.

  8.  
    February 5, 2007 | 1:26 pm
     

    I have to go every 4 mos., because of my opposition to flossing. It is like going to a “scared straight” program every visit, but I willingly admit I don’t take good care of my teeth.

  9.  
    February 7, 2007 | 10:22 am
     

    Saliva is the natural anti-acid. Part of the problem is that we don’t chew our food porperly before swallowing, so don’t get enough saliva going to counteract the acidic damage to the teeth. Options are to always ‘rinse’ your mouth with saliva when you eat, or chew gum. Or clean your teeth after every cake or piece of candy.

  10.  
    J
    February 7, 2007 | 11:43 am
     

    “Emergen-C” lemon-lime flavored fizzy drink mix…that is what kept me going. I think the whole restaurant was hooked (sounds like crack, right). It was originally marketed as a hangover cure. No wonder restaurant people snatched it up! You can find it at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, most organic food stores and some drug stores. Good luck at the dentist.

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