Everyone has fears. Some people are afraid of snakes (not me).
Or public speaking (not me, again).
Or going to the dentist (still not me…oh, wait).
Until recently, I had never been scared of going to the dentist. Why? Because I was lucky enough to have started seeing mine when I was only five years old. He was just beginning to work in dentistry, and I went to see him as a little kid.
And I continued going to him as an adult for many more decades.
Unfortunately, my dentist passed away suddenly this summer at a much-too-young age. I grieved, sent a card to his wife, hugged the staff as I picked up mine and my husband’s dental records…then I had to go on a quest.
I had to find a new dentist.
Luckily, with social media, it’s really easy to get people’s opinions quickly—whether you want them or not. After asking friends about their dentists, I made a list, and then got to work.
Believe it or not, many dental practices still do not have websites. What? How on earth was I supposed to know what they did or who they were or what they offered? Or if they took my insurance?
I crossed them off the list. There was no way I could make myself visit each dental practice like I was going on a blind date. “So, do you ever get really upset about people not flossing? Um, not that I don’t or anything. It was just a question.”
“You’re not planning on retiring anytime soon, are you? Um, not that it matters.”
That was something else I thought about. No matter how good the dentist, I absolutely couldn’t pick someone who was close to retiring—for no other reason than I was already freaking out about finding a new one this time; there was no way I could do it again. I knew that I needed to be involved in another long-term relationship.
I found that my list grew with all the “must haves.” Like my list for a future husband that I had written in high school—he had to be funny, smart, kind, patient…and on and on.
My dentist needed to be younger, work with others in the practice, be close to my home, have good credentials…
I’m not picky. The word is “selective.”
Anyway, I digress…
I found a dentist with all these qualities, just like I did my husband.
Well, I didn’t look up my husband’s attributes on his website because the internet didn’t exist back when we were dating. You know, when God was a boy, and people chiseled things on stone tablets.
So, after having a free consultation with this dentist, in which he took us on a tour of the practice, my husband and I were smitten.
He was younger! He’d had a residency at Hopkins! He is in a practice with other dentists! And if this isn’t enough, they offer 24/7 emergency care!
I was in love!
Until, though, I had my first appointment.
That morning, I was a total nervous mess.
He was new. He was different. He was not my old dentist.
“Everything’s going to be fine,” said my husband.
Sure. Easy for him to say. Our dentist wasn’t his first. He had been with others. He had more experience than I.
I began my appointment by filling out forms. Then I met my dentist’s nurse.
She was nice. The room was nice. Everyone in the front office was nice.
But I wasn’t convinced.
Then, the nurse took my X-rays.
As soon as the machine buzzed, the first X-ray showed up on a screen on the wall in front of me.
“Oh my gosh, is that mine?” I asked.
It was. And all of them appeared in front of me. It was like I was seeing my mouth for the first time, because, really, I was.
This was so cool!
But then the dentist came in. He was as nice as he had been at the consultation. He checked my teeth and gums, and then checked for signs of oral disease.
Sitting in his office after the exam, I got great news: my teeth are in excellent shape, and my gums look great.
And my husband and I joked with him that we would be able to stay with him until we’re old and gray. He laughed and said he was glad to have us as patients.
I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Or at least a good dentist/patient one.
- Thanks to the late Dr. Lincoln Frank who was a fantastic dentist. I’ll so miss being amazed at how you could understand what I said with cotton, instruments, and your hands in my mouth all at the same time.
Michele Wojciechowski, when she’s not flossing only because she’s headed to the dentist (and if this is her new dentist, that’s a lie; she flosses after every meal), writes “Wojo’s World®” from her home office.
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