there are many things on my bucket list, oddly enough staring up people's nostrils while bits of their teeth fly into mine isn't one of them.
i have been moonlighting as a dental assistant (the non-certified kind) for the last three weeks, a blip on the CV really, it wouldn't even qualify as a "special skill"- unlike 'injecting insulin into an agitated rat terrier twice a day'- and i have found that it's a bit like making chicken stir fry; i can manage it, and it's o.k., but there's nothing that spectacular about my performance.
granted, as an assistant you do get an aerial, front row seat to exciting procedures like extractions, so it comes in handy that osha requires face masks, because there is no poker face happening once a tooth has been drilled open for air. the gross stuff aside, my own personal anxiety comes with the responsibility of spit sucker management; are they going to choke and drown if i let things pool too much, or are they going to choke and gag if i go in for a sweep? and how much pooling is too much pooling? how deep do i sweep? it's a lot of pressure, and i don't want them to hate me, they could bite my finger.
it's also a bit like being back in french class, except instead of conjugating verbs, there is a whole new lexical set to remember- quickly. because dentistry has an extensive collection of 'pokey things', all with very arbitrary monikers; "please pass the plastic instrument" (except that it's actually made of metal and looks pretty much like every other one of the double sided pokers in the cassette). dental schools may have been teaching it their way for years, but as far as i'm concerned the drill bits* are now; 'christmas tree', 'matchstick', 'microphone', and 'arrowhead'.
~ "pass me the diamond burr".
~ "is that the one that looks like a terra cotta plant pot or the latte mug with no handle?"
it's not all bad, i've learned a lot; hot tooth shards smell like corn chips; young women need to be vigilant about examining their chin and upper lip areas for hair; there is nothing worse than a roving tongue; i would much rather wear my pyjamas to bed, than get up and wear them to work. and ultimately, any job description that involves cleaning up after other people's messes and "vacuuming" is something that i've had a lot of practice with.