Why I Enjoyed My Trip to the Dentist (Even Though It Hurt)

by Larry Hehn on March 13, 2013

dentistOn Monday I went to the dentist. Naturally, on the previous Thursday I started to floss, hoping to make it look like I’d been flossing regularly for the last six months.

Oops.

Even though my dentist is a really nice guy with a great sense of humor, I don’t usually enjoy my visits. Even if it’s just for a clean and polish.

Most appointments start off with a rookie hygienist, half my size and half my age, trying to gouge her way through my teeth with a sharp metal hook. This hook, though meant to clean my teeth, quite often finds its way into my gums as well.

As much as I try to stay relaxed and distracted by the 24-hour news channel on the TV screen that’s glued to the ceiling, I can’t help but stiffen and wince as the hook-wielding sprite-du-jour bloodies my gums.

I never appreciated or understood all that pain until Monday’s appointment. For the first time ever, my hygienist actually explained to me what she was doing, and why she had to scrape below the gumline.

It turns out that, though painful, removing the plaque from below the gumline keeps my teeth clean and healthy. The longer I go without that maintenance, the worse my teeth will get, and the more painful the work will be to fix them.

Knowing that didn’t lessen the pain, but it made it more bearable.

That’s the attitude I try to remember when God disciplines me. His knowledge of - and desire for - what’s best for me should always trump my selfish desires. Though it’s painful, his way is the best.

The longer I go against it, the worse things will get, and the more painful it will be to fix them.

God, let me seek and follow your will today, not mine.

Oh yeah, and please remind me to floss.

Amen.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. – Hebrews 12:11

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

bill (cycleguy) March 13, 2013 at 5:20 am

I went years without proper dental hygiene- flossing regularly, etc. I paid the price every time I went to the dentist. Then about 3-4 years ago it all came back on me when I had to get braces at the age of 56 or so. You better believe I do everything I can possibly do to keep them clean. But those dentist visits for the cleaning are still painful since I produce a lot of calcium (plaque).
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Larry Hehn March 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Me too, Bill. There are a couple of areas in my mouth where the tartar really likes to gather. Now that I have a literal clean slate, I’m hoping to be more diligent in keeping the tartar at bay.

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Jesse March 13, 2013 at 11:27 am

Great thought’s Larry. Don’t you love when life tends to connect the physical with the spiritual?
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Larry Hehn March 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Sure do, Jesse. I find it happens a lot, but I wonder how much more often it happens and I simply miss it.

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Juan Cruz Jr March 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Funny :) , it describes my dental visits to the “T”. It’s not enjoyable and it certainly is painful but ultimately it’s for our own good. Excellent post, Larry
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Larry Hehn March 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Thank you, Juan. Keep smiling! :)

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David Rupert March 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

It’s interesting that when she described the pain and the reason for it, it made it more bearable.
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Larry Hehn March 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Yes. Same pain, different attitude. Amazing, eh?

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Eileen March 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Funny I should read this today…just got back from the dentist. I had to get a filling. Yes, I need to floss too. And, yes, the pain He allows us to go through is always to grow us.

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Larry Hehn March 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Welcome, Eileen. Nice to have you here!

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