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Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts Of a Dentist's Drill

It's been a long week, and a long day. Fridays always seem to be the longest and the shortest days of the week, long because you're just waiting for sundown to come so you can sit down and take a breath and finally relax, and short because there's never enough time to do all the things you need to do, like dust on top of the refrigerator, sort your winter clothes, and prepare three entrees for Sabbath lunch :P

This week I was at the dentist, again!!! I'm starting to feel like it's my second home; I wonder if they have a preferred customer card and if I can get a discount on crowns, you know, buy one & get one free? Probably not, unfortunately! I joke that I don't need to go to heaven because I've got enough crowns here on earth!!! Thankfully all I had this time was a cleaning, and the dental hygienist was a very friendly young lady who seemed to know what she was doing as she measured the pockets of my gums, used a water drill (?) to clean off the dark spots (they always ask if I drink wine, coffee, or tea, because of the staining, but one dentist said that comes from eating a lot of vegetables), and then applied the tasty polish. It wasn't the most pleasant of procedures, but each time I'm sitting in that plastic chair with the extra plastic cover down at my feet (are they concerned about shoes passing on germs?), head tilted back as I try to stare anywhere but into the face of whomever happens to be bent over me at the moment, as they peer intently into the cavern of my mouth and begin drilling or filling or cleaning, I think about what kind of a job dentists and their assistants have, and I grow more and more grateful. I mean, think about it, would you like to spend your days looking into mouths filled with dirty teeth, poking and prodding around, sucking up saliva with a small aspirator, making sure nothing falls down someone's throat, drilling just enough tooth off so the crown will fit and not too much so there isn't any tooth left for it to hold on to, and sticking globs of plaster between teeth and then peeling and prying the hardened stuff off. Or perhaps you enjoy flossing other people's teeth, scraping away at little stubborn dark bits, or sticking needles in the exact spot, and making sure someone doesn't go numb in the wrong tooth. I really appreciate all the staff there, Jermaine, the friendly dentist in training who thinks I'm 18; Gloria, the no-nonsense Filipino dentist who assists my primary dentist; my dentist, a very sweet Indian lady whose name I still haven't learned; and the front-desk secretaries who never fail to call me to remind me about my upcoming appointment (only $925 for your crown, payable in advance, would you like to pay with check or credit-card and when can I make your next appointment for?). During each procedure I've had, whether a filling, a crown, or a cleaning, they've always made sure I was comfortable, asking me if I'm okay and if anything hurts, and apologizing if something was the slightest bit painful. I don't know how many of them are Christians or how much of the friendliness is "customer service training" but regardless, I appreciate that I am cared for. As I reflect on how the staff are both professional, friendly, and caring, I realize that this is something I need to strive more for. A Christian witness speaks louder than words and will convict more than a thousand sermons.

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