Dental Hygienists: It’s Not Just Woman’s Work

I have a regular Dentist, and a Periodontist.  So twice a year I go for a cleaning at my regular dentist, and twice a year I go for a cleaning at my Periodontist’s office.  The difference is that at the Periodontist’s, it’s not called a cleaning, it’s called periodontal maintenance, which for me means I get my dental insurance to pay for 4 cleanings a year instead of 2.  So when it comes to regular dental hygiene, I’m a frequent flyer.

But I’m still capable of being shocked, as I was today while sitting in the waiting room waiting for my periodontal maintenance, I was called into the treatment room…

…by a man.

Yes, my dental hygienist was a dude.  I don’t, in all my years, ever recall seeing a male dental hygienist.  There is obviously no practical reason why there shouldn’t be male hygienists and in fact they apparently have been out there for a while. According to the New York Times, 90% of dental hygienists are women so while women are the overwhelming majority; men are making an impact in the field.

You go guys, keep breaking that glass ceiling.

Now, my hygienist, or maybe I should say, mangienist, was a total professional and as far as I could tell from a patient perspective, did a great job.  However I admit being uncomfortable with the fact that he was a guy, and I say that with the total awareness that any uncomfortable feelings are totally irrational.  It shouldn’t matter if my dental hygienist is male or female; I should just be interested in a quality cleaning by a well training professional who makes me comfortable with the process.

But I wasn’t comfortable.

I’m not the only one.  A recent survey of dentists showed that 30% would not hire a male dental hygienist, even if he was the most qualified.  That does sound unfair but they’re probably worried about patients being uncomfortable with one.  I’m used to my dental hygienist being a female so I fall in that category.

Interestingly, the fact that a woman is a dental hygienist seems to make her hotter than what her normal sexual market value would be.  It’s an occupation that’s worth at least a 1 to 1.5 bump on the standard 10 point hotness scale. I’m guessing because the actual practice of teeth cleaning seems intimate. She’s in your mouth; she’s leaning over you and invading your personal space in a major way.  Your hand, innocently holding onto the arm of the chair, brushes against her as she moves around.  You didn’t move; she did.  Did she brush against you on purpose?

Often after a dental cleaning you’re ready for a cigarette.

With a guy hygienist, that entire experience is thrown off, and reduced to merely a transactional dental service, like buying toothpaste only more time consuming and inconvenient.  Actually it’s worse, because your entire typical expectations of having your teeth cleaned by a woman are inverted.  Suddenly intimacy becomes intrusion. And where do I put my hands?  Not on the arms of the patient’s chair.  In fact, I was originally going to name this post, “Help!  There’s a Man in my Mouth!”  However thinking about the possible Google searches that would be misdirected towards me, I decided against it.

Now I know this is ridiculous. My dentists and dental specialists for the last 20 years or so have all been men, and I’ve never felt any awkwardness or discomfort based on that.  So there is no logical reason I shouldn’t be able to adapt to a simple cleaning being done by a man.  But it is an end of an era; an era in which I could be titillated by regular oral maintenance.

And yes, I flossed.


Truth, Justice, and the 99%

Or, Superman Occupies Wall Street

I was minding my own tweeting business, when I got a tweet stating that Superman had joined the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  I was a little surprised by this since at this point, I figured OWS as a movement was about as dead as a doornail.  It had been months since an Occupier has pooped on a police car, and there had been little Occupy terrorism in several months.  What benefit could DC have in involving their flagship character, the most popular comic superhero in the world, with a fringe group of crackpots?

But following the link on the tweet it led me to DC Comics character description of the Man of Steel:

A universal icon, Superman means different things to the many diverse people he inspires: He’s an alien; an immigrant from a faraway land just looking to help; a country boy fighting the never-ending battle for truth and justice. And recent comics have truly spotlighted his role as the people’s hero: Following a neophyte Man of Steel still learning his powers’ limits, Superman fights the evil corporate tycoons and corrupt one-percenters that have overwhelmed the establishment.

What the hell?  “one-percenters?”  “evil corporate tycoons?”

One couldn’t also notice that the “American Way” had been excised from the truth and justice Superman unendingly battles for.  Not so much a surprise as Superman renounced his American citizenship in Action Comics 900.  Of course DC had been wrecking both their characters and their universe since their Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s 1985 series that eliminated all of its comic alternate universes.  It made a great storyline, but a massive comicsverse such as the ones DC and Marvel have can’t exist without multiple alternate universes.  They clear up continuity problems. And they allow a rebooting updating of the characters such as Marvel did with its Ultimate line.

Without alternate universes, DC has been trying to reboot its prime universe over and over, updating it to the point that none of the history a true comic geek knows about his favorite characters stays history.  Characters origins and previous adventures get altered and changed on a whim.  DC eventually corrected that, resurrecting the multiple universes, but their most recent reboot gave DC the chance to totally redo all of their characters.  An opportunity they apparently took advantage of by making decades old superhero, Green Lantern, gay.  DC did wimp out on this since they took another universe Green Lantern, Earth 2’s Alan Scott, as the gay lantern.  Still, is there really a comic market for that?

I get that artists and other fartsy types are likely to be left leaning.  A little politics mixed in with comics has been going back years.  During the seventies Green Arrow and Green Lantern would simultaneously fight aliens and racism in their own joint comic book.  The series had several sophisticated story lines involving what were then topical issues of the day;  poverty, class, Vietnam, and drugs.  Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy had a heroin addiction.

But DC, why did you have to go and ruin Superman?

They’ve actually taken the most popular comic book character in the world and made him a lefty political extremist.  And DC wonders why sales of their comics continue to drop.

Since DC is determined to crush both their sales and the characters they had spent decades cultivating, they might as well let the characters go out with a bang before bankruptcy.  Why not reboot the DCU again (20th time’s the charm right?) and make Superman black. Superman, whose alter ego is a mild mannered reporter for Media Matters, can fight super villains like the Koch Brothers. As an illegal immigrant himself, Superman can kick down the border fence in Arizona, and fly back to Boston to smoke pot in the Commons with the other Occupiers by noon.

How can DC go wrong?

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