Today was my regular teeth cleaning, though it wasn’t really regular. I was three months late due to the dental department closure for some months in the springtime. Even now that they are open, it wasn’t regular. It was a Covid-19 teeth cleaning.
When I came into the room, I felt conspicuous, especially when they asked me to remove my mask. Of course, I would need to remove my mask. What was I thinking? The periodontist and the assistant were each decked out with double masks and a boldly-marked FACE SHIELD.
They both meticulously used hand sanitizer and then put on a pair of rubber gloves. They busily set up the work station, getting all their tools lined up. The assistant poured me a cocktail of betadine and water to rinse my mouth.
After getting everything set up, they removed and disposed of those gloves and then put on a new pair. At this point, I was clearly feeling like I myself was the virus from which they needed protection.
As I sat there, occasionally opening my eyes, I saw a trio of images. In the center was the dental light focused on my mouth, on either side the periodontist and the assistant. I couldn’t help but notice their attentive and vulnerable eyes under their shields. I wondered how many of my droplets were able to reach those defenseless, exposed orifices. I felt guilty and prayed I didn’t have Covid-19.
Fortunately, teeth cleaning is a fast and furious process here. It is not for the faint of heart, indulged or coddled. He is on a mission to get through all four sections of teeth before giving the person in the chair a break. Three tools were put into my mouth, a water jet, a suction and some kind of an ultrasonic teeth cleaner. I began breathing deeply and slowly. He began traveling on the lingual mandibular route. Then surprisingly, two of the tools escaped. I closed my mouth over the suction, happy for the unexpected break. Then he continued on the labial mandibular teeth, jumped up to the maxillary, turned and scaled every surface along that route. He then did another u-turn around my wisdom tooth and continued on the front of the upper jaw. No more breaks to be had until the end.
In the next moments, he gobbed that gritty polish onto all the surfaces and scrubbed it off like lightning.
I looked down at my watch. The whole process had taken 13 minutes.
Today is Day 168 in Bahrain’s Covid-19 time.