Health Matters: Finding the Good Dentist

This past full month (and ongoing), I have been revisiting a lower rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: dental issues! It is difficult to blog about events while in the midst of them, but since I haven’t been blogging since the troubles began, I can at least briefly review how dentistry has been a significant theme in my own MyStory. 

When I was four, I fell from a booster seat at the family’s dining room table and knocked out my four front teeth. They did not grow back in until I was nine, and in those days bridges were not yet used, so when those adult teeth did come in, they were gnarled.  In my early teens my parents took me for braces; they extracted five teeth because of how jumbled the teeth were and how small my mouth is. The braces experience was a tough one for me. I threw tantrums trying to refuse to go; the pain from tightening the braces was hard to bear. When the braces were finally removed, I honestly tossed the retainer after a few months because I just wanted to be done with it all. So, now as an adult my teeth still have some positioning issues, and I have had a lot of dental work throughout my life.  I had some very good dentists in Colorado the year or two before retiring in 2018, and they took care of refilling most earlier fillings, plus I needed a crown and an implant.

But recently my dental issues have been flaring again. After a dentist used props to hold my jaws open to replace two metal upper teeth fillings, I ended up with pain radiating throughout my mouth for the next three weeks; plus I realized the lower premolar implant tooth was loose, further contributing to the nerve pain. My new dentists here put off a revisit and I no longer felt trusting of their care. Then my dear sister who has had similar issues referred me to her dentist; from here on I will call him the Good Dentist.  I have long been concerned about the dental problems that could come with aging, and I feel grateful that my sister and Divine providence have led me to the Good Dentist’s  care.

But this has not been fun yet. Two days ago he removed the too shallow implant which had worn down all the surrounding bone and the gum was infected. Then he packed new bone matter into the opening and sutured gum around that. Youch, yes. And around 3 months from now he wants to replace the implant with a better, deeper one.

Meanwhile through all of this I have needed to be on pain meds, which have their own risks that I have been testing for. I hope to be done with all but Tylenol by tomorrow, plus must finish the second round of antibiotics.

Yuck, right? Now you know where I have been this past month.

So, to try to extract (bad pun) some MyStory meaningful lessons or messages from this lifelong theme, let me see:  Dentistry has revealed various aspects of human character through the years, both of myself and of dentists and their assistants. I have learned the best of these professionals are not only well trained; they are caring and gentle in their treatments. They are good listeners and good communicators. Others tend to be more focused on the matters at hand—the teeth condition—rather than the whole person or the therapeutic relationship. I think this pertains to issues of control for me: I do not want to submit to a less than caring doctor.

Now the Good Dentist, whom I feel guided to along with his good assistants, has already earned my trust and cooperation. Though yes, I am coping with a painful recovery process from the extraction surgery this week, I feel his care and am grateful for his truly visionary considerations of how best to proceed. After one of the early visits while I was still in lots of pain, he put his hand on my head and said:

“I am sending you good energy; we will make you all better.”

images are from

So I am left with gratitude and acceptance, glad to have found a path forward with my dental issues that is likely to be as positive as possible.

How about you? How have health matters Mattered in your own MyStory adventure?

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