To get a "regular" dental cleaning in prison you have to put in a kite (aka request). It can take anywhere between 6 to 12 months before you are seen by a dentist. The best part, you never know when you when your appointment will be until the night before or even just a few minutes before the appointment.
The dental facility is located at the main central complex building outside of my unit. A day at dental starts around 6:30am regardless of what time your "appointment". is. I started my day by walking about a half a mile to what is called the V-gate. The V-gate is where vehicles come in and out on my unit. Fire trucks, ambulance, food trucks and inmate transportation vans use this gate to access the unit.
At the V-gate an officer meets all of the inmates who are lucky enough to have a dental appointment, and does a head count. Once everyone has finally arrived and is accounted for, they cram 14 to 16 inmates in a transportation bench van and drive us to the complex building. Rap music is always blasting through the crackling speakers for our short 3 minute drive over to central complex. Upon arriving at complex we are escorted to the dental waiting area. (to answer the question you are probably thinking...no we were not hand cuffed or shackled in the van) :)
This is not your typical comfortable, cushy dental office waiting room. There is no music playing overhead and no friendly receptionist to greet you. There are 3 wooden benches pushed up against the walls. These benches look like they were made in high school wood shop and have been used since the opening of the prison. It wouldn't be too bad sitting on them for a short period, but a normal wait for your "appointment" is 4 to 6 hours! We do of course have our choice of magazines believe it or not! However, you are lucky if you can find one that is still fully intact and not dated from the year you were born! My magazine choice that day was a National Geographic from 1990! Talk about a blast from the past!
You are probably curious to why on Earth would I want to go through all of this trouble for a mediocre dental cleaning? Well, those of you who know the Robinson's know we are sorta nuts about our teeth! And I would like to keep all of my originals while I am in here! I came in here with all of my teeth and I plan on leaving this place with all of them. Having all of your original teeth in prison is practically unheard of. Out of the 14 women with me that day, I was the only one getting my "grill" cleaned. All of the other women were having teeth extracted or setting up another appointment for a denture fitting. It is quite unbelievable to see women at the young age of 25 with a full set of dentures. Lack of hygiene and extreme drug use over long periods of time are the root causes for these womens extreme dental problems.
Being that this is prison, there is never a dull or normal moment. Halfway through our day of waiting for our appointments we were escorted outside by an officer who instructed us to enter the metal cages outside, 3 inmates to a cage. We were then locked in the cages and then one of the furry butt sniffers was brought out! (the highlight of my day, being a dog lover) I guess I never imagined I would be in a position where me the human would be in a cage and the dogs would be on the outside looking in!
Finally, after 4 hours of waiting, I got my "grill" cleaned! There is no fancy flossing or tasty minty polish job. They only scrap and prod around in your mouth with a sharp instrument that sprays water. It was not the best cleaning I have ever had but I was very happy to get it! And, this is prison you know.
So, after a van ride with Rap music, five hours on a wooden bench, (which caused my butt to go numb), being sniffed by dogs, and a very "different" dental cleaning, I got to go "home'!
And that my friends is an inmates day at dental.