Sure, my dentist and I discuss sports, in discussions to which I contribute unknowing grunts because I don’t understand sports. Or we discuss the Beatles, whom he saw in concert as a young man, five decades ago. He initially mentioned that because once, during an appointment, I wore a Beatles’ t-shirt. So I wore it for the next appointment, too.

However, these polite conversations between my dentist and me turn into lectures about how I need to improve my dental hygiene. I know. That’s his job. But the way he does it, I can’t help but feel like less of a person since I don’t live up to his standards. He’s such a hard ass.

But for some reason, I look up to him. Perhaps because I’m in an examination chair as he works on my teeth, and that’s all I can do. Look up.

“Where’d you hear that?” he asked, snapping latex gloves on his hands.

Maybe, I don’t look up to him enough to floss every day in between my regularly scheduled cleanings, but I do so enough to lie to him by claiming that I do floss. In all truth, the only time I actually floss is a couple days before our appointments, and of course, it’s with the floss I still have left over from the samples he’s given me six months prior.

After I came across the article on the Internet about how medical studies haven’t proven flossing effective, I felt vindicated. Not enough to read the article in its entirety, but enough to share the headline with my dentist when I saw him again.

Maybe I shouldn’t have.

“Where’d you hear that?” he asked, snapping latex gloves on his hands. He hadn’t noticed I was wearing a Beatles’ t-shirt.

“It was on Facebook.”

He smirked and then asked me to open wide “like an alligator.” He shoved a dental pick in my mouth and scraped it in between my teeth. I felt an acute ache.

“There’s a lot of buildup here,” he said and frowned. “Maybe you’ve heard the term ‘fake news.’ You wouldn’t have happened to heard about fake news floating around the Internet, have you?”

I nodded yes, but I wouldn’t call this article fake news. It was reported by the Associated Press. Drool began running from the corners of my mouth, but he didn’t wipe it away.

“So you have to consider the source. Do you believe everything you read on Facebook?” he asked me, but I couldn’t answer. He was in my mouth. “Because I have to tell you. The proof is in the pudding.”

He pulled out the dental pick and wiped tartar on my bib. He set the dental pick on an instrument tray.

Have you been flossing?”

“Not as much as I should.”

“But you do?”

“Look. You can lie to your friends. I can lie to mine. But let’s not lie to each other.”

“I do.”

“Look. You can lie to your friends. I can lie to mine. But let’s not lie to each other.”

He playfully slapped my cheek. He then grinned and probed my mouth with a dental mirror, as my tongue fought against him.

“Looks like you really took that article to heart. The shape of your gums says it all,” he said. “But what about taking me to heart?”

I tried to apologize, but I only could gag.

“Did you take my medical opinion to heart? Was that something you ever took into consideration? Was it?”

“Augharrylle. Augharrylle Nomsay-say.”

“I’m sure you’re sorry,” he said. “Really, really sorry. But don’t apologize to me.”

He set the dental mirror on the instrument tray. He then held a mirror to my face, and I saw my reflection, bleeding gums and all.

“Apologize to your face.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Damn right, you are. Now Nadine’s going to come in and show you how to floss. Don’t let this be the only time it happens before I see you again.”

He then handed me a plastic bag with a toothbrush and sample floss inside. Yeah, I suppose the floss might come in handy.

Six months from now.