Going to the dentist is probably one of the most unpleasant things that I'm actually willing to pay money to experience. I had a check up this month and, to my great dismay, had two cavities - opposite sides, between the teeth on my “premolars” - third from the back. “At least you're symmetrical,” my dentist quipped. Jerk.
Actually my dentist is a pretty nice guy. But I would be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated. I'm grateful that my parents' genetics have left me generally well-set-up and healthy, but teeth seem to be an exception. I'm always amazed, and slightly jealous, when I meet people in their twenties or older who have NEVER had a cavity! I've had many. Very many. Once, I had four cavities all filled in the same session! They said I should do it in two sessions, but I thought it would be funnier to do it all at once. And you know what?! It WAS funnier! Take that, cavities! I will have fun despite you!
But in this particular session, not only did I have two cavities, but the dental hygienist also used the electric scaler for the cleaning - a first for me. For those unfamiliar, a scaler is the standard spikey metal tool used to poke holes in your gums, but this one is electronic, so it vibrates, poking more holes in your gums in less time with less effort. A wonderful piece of technology, this electrified gum-poker is. And at the conclusion of this gum-poking session, she informed me that my gums were bleeding quite a lot. Surprise!
But here's the annoying thing: For the past six months, I had tried EXTRA hard to keep my teeth clean! I bought an electric toothbrush that cleans so well it makes my nose tingle (because of the vibrations - not because I use it in my nose), and I've been SO good with flossing daily! I'd even go so far as to say that never before in my whole life have I flossed so regularly! The dentist calmly reflected, “Ah, so you've been doing your homework, but you got the report card back and it wasn't what you had hoped for.”
Somehow, hearing the dentist say this was re-assuring and calming to me. LOTS of people do their homework but just don't get the results they want on the report card, whether it's at school, in a competition, or at the dentist. I wasn't alone. So there I sat, teeth squeaky clean (except for the blood still squirting from my gums), reflecting on my experience. I had learned a lot, actually:
1. There's no gain in being mad at the dentist. He was as nice as he could be, and I liked that he didn't sugar-coat the truth. (What dentist would sugar-coat anything?! Ha!)
2. There's no gain in being jealous over someone else's genetically superior teeth. I choose to make the best of what I have, and I will have fun in spite of my cavities.
3. Most importantly: When you don't get the results you want, it's easy to be frustrated, and that sometimes leads to bad decisions. I was tempted to give up flossing and brushing altogether. Obviously this would be a bad choice, both for my teeth and for my social life. Instead of making rash decisions, try asking yourself these questions:
What am I doing right? I brush and I floss. And just because I didn't get results this time doesn't mean that I should stop. Sometimes I hear students refuse to study, claiming, “I studied last time and I got a D+.” One might ask: “How bad would it have been if I had NOT done these correct things?” Keep doing the things that are proven to work.
What can I do differently? Apparently, I need to massage my gums more - using the bristles of the brush. Gums need massage now? What's next?! A chiropractor for my earlobes? Sheesh..
Given the work required, is it worth doing at all? Only you can decide how you should spend your time, and important things don't often come without effort - good grades, good health, good relationships. To me, I choose to do the best I can with my teeth, so brush and floss and massage my gums I will! Onwards and upwards (and downwards and back and forth.. ch ch CH-ch, ch-CH ch ch-CH)!
Austin Powers - Mr. Teeth himself.
May 12, 2009
“Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths.”
- Bertrand Russell
English Logician and Philosopher 1872-1970
Joel Hilchey speaks and facilitates workshops across North America, empowering students, educators & business leaders who want to build stronger, more positive teams and communities. Contact him by phone at 1-877-487-5635 or check him out online at www.joelhilchey.com!
RIDDLE: I go up like a rocket, down like the rain, and back and forth like a choo-choo train. I'm modern and hip with my never-slip grip, and I go buzz-buzz to prevent micro-fuzz. What am I?
Interestingly, in a google search for "teeth tips", 6 of the first 10 sites listed are actually about getting "whiter" teeth, rather than "healthier" teeth. Interesting how sometimes looks seem to outweigh health in our society.
A note on April's Riddle:
I frequently receive requests to publish the answers to previous riddles. I'm not going to do that, but feel free to ask anyway, as I've been known to give out hints.
In any case, last month's riddle was TOO HARD. Not a single person sent me the right answer. So here it is again with a clue:
Last month's newsletter was themed on Peter Pan, and the riddle required some knowledge of the story of how Hook got his hook.
His hand was thrown to a crocodile who found the taste to be somewhat delicious and has been following hook ever since, but he can't quite seem to catch him. If you don't know the story, you might look up why...
RIDDLE FROM APRIL: In a deep and dark cave, I run round day by day and I make too much noise, the cave owner would say. But not all would agree that my running is bad, for if I should stop, a nice meal could be had! What am I?