You know what I am really thankful for? Dentists. Now, anyone who knows me will scratch their head and say, "Really?" They would be saying this because I am absolutely, unreasonably, borderline nutty, phobic afraid of going to the dentist. However, I am more afraid of tooth decay and disease than I am of going to the dentist, so I go faithfully for my teeth cleaning every six months.
I was fortunate that my parents were able to send me to the dentist regularly when I was a child, so for me, it is a habit. I have to go to the dentist to be happy. Even though I am frightened to the point of barely being able to squeak above a whisper while I am there.
It didn't help that I had issues with my teeth when I was really young. It turns out that one of the side effects of being a preemie is that often, when your baby teeth finally come in, they don't have enough enamel on them. When my small molars broke through the gums, they needed fillings put in right away. Happily, my adult teeth were much heartier when they came through and as I am devoted to brushing and flossing, my teeth are pretty happy overall. But every now and then, my tiny world gets rocked.
I went in last Wednesday and was feeling confident even though it was again time for x-rays. I wasn't feeling any pain and as I said earlier-I am devout when it comes to the day to day up keep of my teeth.
Everything seemed fine. My hygienist merrily cleaned and picked along my gum line, banishing all excess tartar build up. She polished, swished, rinsed, and dried as if all was right in the world. She was gone for a bit retrieving the x-rays and had called the dentist to come to my room for a look see. She had begun to fill my little take home package with a new brush, a tiny tin of loss, and two wee tubes of toothpaste. And then my jovial dentist walked in, and still-all seemed to be okay.
And then he said, "well, you're not going to like this," which is truly understated. I already didn't like it, whatever it might be. I was already squirming and trying to eye my escape route. It was truly no big deal, for an ordinary person, one that isn't afraid of the dentist. I had two old fillings, as in they are probably 30 years old, that had pieces that broke off and the tooth below was starting to decay. An easy fix. But the soonest we could schedule an appointment-was a week later-today.
I am also glad that my dentist is so very patient. He doesn't ever say a word. He knows I am afraid and never belittles that fact. He doesn't say a word as I silently try to control my shivering. I know I could do myself harm, but it is really a struggle to not shake. He is also generous with the pain medication and fast and efficient. It always reminds me a bit of one of my favorite books from my childhood-where a little character is all afraid about this bad thing that will happen at the end of the book and pleads and begs for you to quit turning pages. I would do that to, if I could, plead and beg to not have the fillings fixed, and then, suddenly, after only a few moments, it is all done.
I am truly grateful for the dentist. Really, for the hygienist and everyone else that works there. I am amazed at what they do, day in and day out, and how they are able to help such a wide variety of patients, including really cowardly ones like me.