I'm not one who fears or avoids the dentist, but I've had terrible luck finding and keeping one over the past 15 years. I went every six months to the same cat until I was 25 (except for one disastrous year), and then things got spotty, as in "we don't take your insurance any more," followed by the discovery of a new office which did, only to have to schedule an appt. six months down the road and discover a few weeks before the appt. that the new office had also stopped taking my insurance, rinse, spit, repeat.
Because of these recurring bureaucratic bumblings I missed cleanings for five years in a row in my 30s. When I finally got in for a check-up and cleaning I tried to explain to the rather severe African American doc that it wasn't my fault my teeth were so filthy-I blamed years of insurance snafus. She simply sighed, got out the giant brush and tooth, and showed me how to brush with up and down strokes, NOT side-to-side.
"I haven't had a cavity since I was 7 years old!"* I complained, but she continued the demonstration nonetheless. Humiliating!
Before my next bi-annual appt. her office stopped taking my insurance, and I went back to doing the dentist shuffle.
So when I became a teacher I got the good health insurance through B'more City, only to find out that the good health insurance did not extend to dental care. I searched high and low to find someone who would take it, and finally found a guy out in the sticks on the East Side in some crummy half-abandoned medical center. A jovial and rather goofy Indian man named Dr. G looked in my mouth and said "why are you here?" I told him I hadn't had a cleaning in a couple years and wanted that and a check-up. "Your teeth are gorgeous," he said. "Come back in a year!" He chiseled a bit at the back of my lower front teeth and kicked me out. He looked in Cha's mouth and told her to go away.
This guy was obviously a nut, so I searched diligently for another office online which takes the Balto City dental plan. Office after office told me "no" or "hell, no" until I found one right up the street. I made an appointment and got in quickly. Today was the day.
Unfortunately the dentist was Dr. G in a different office. He looked in my mouth and said "You haven't had a cleaning in too long. What is wrong with you?" I reminded him that he'd seen me last year and not cleaned anything, and told me to come back in a year. He laughed. "You caught me right before vacation then! I must have been dreaming of golf. I'm going to have to do a deep cleaning. This will hurt a lot." He took out a high-pressure deck sprayer and set to work. There was a lot of blood, but things are OK now, except that I have to go back in two weeks for a cap; a tooth I broke on a tongue piercing 12 years ago has apparently decided to croak on me. What better way to spend my last few days before school starts up?
*And those cavities, I believe, were frauds perpetrated by a shady dentist in Reisterstown, MD. After years of no problems he found 7 cavaties at once? Give me a break? When I went back to my old dentist after a brief hiatus I never had another.