Life Narrated

Going to the dentist

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As a kid, my mom worked for a dentist. She was a chairside assistant. I remember always having plenty of new toothbrushes at home because when the office ordered in bulk, the staff would order for their homes, too, so we always had spares when a friend spent the night. I remember always knowing how to floss and never really worrying about getting cavities. I remember playing with the big plastic teeth and the giant toothbrush at my mom’s office when I was little. I remember the office waiting room had a huge checker set on the floor and a big fish tank. I remember a few times when I was sick and my dad was working, I would go to the dentist’s office with mom and I’d stay in the break room, napping or coloring or reading a book all day. The receptionist was this sweet lady named Doris who thought my sisters and I hung the moon and treated us like her own grandkids. For me, the dentist was never a scary guy, nor his office a nervous place to go.

I grew up taking adequate care of my teeth and going with my mom to her workplace regularly so it was never a big deal when it was my turn to take a trip in the big chair while I got my teeth cleaned. I was actually quite a bit older before I realized that there were some people who panicked and worried about going to the dentist. I couldn’t imagine why it was scary to them.

When my own kids were born, I was still seeing the same dentist I grew up with. Mom no longer worked there, but they still treated me like family. With our children, dental cleanings have never been a negotiable thing. We go every six months, period. I think we have missed maybe one or two cleanings in the twenty-one years we’ve had kids on the planet. It’s just a necessary thing we do to stay healthy.

A few years ago, when my husband began working for his employer, there were two dental insurance plans to choose from. We referred to them as the “normal people’s plan” and the “Cadillac plan”. The normal people’s plan, which fits our budget given the income bracket we fall into, provides twice a year cleanings and x-rays once a year at a very small out of pocket cost. There are reduced rates for all other services as well. The Cadillac plan costs substantially more, provides the same benefits for even less out of pocket cost, and provides a dentist near to our home. While proximity would be nice, our budget does not allow for this plan. So since 2012, our family has been driving about forty miles to go to a dentist on the plan, even though we pass the offices of several others between here and there. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but it was more so before the toll road was built. Now days, it takes less time to get to our out of town dentist, and since we only see them twice a year, it’s not that big of a deal to make a drive over to see them.

So tell me. Do you fear the dentist’s chair? Does it bother you to spend time with your mouth wide open to a stranger who is talking to you and expecting mumbled answers? What is your take on going to the dentist? I am going tomorrow, so fingers crossed, I will get another clean bill of health!

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