There’s nothing that’s quite so disheartening to hear while you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair than these five little words:
“You need a root canal.”
Of course, I was already expecting to hear them when I walked in. The signs are hard to miss, after all - the fierce, stabbing pain on one side of my jaw flaring up whenever I would eat.
It’s not the surprise of bad news that’s so frustrating. It’s that no matter how hard I worked to keep my teeth clean, it never seemed to make much of a difference.
I paid way too much money for the fanciest of electric toothbrushes, and would brush my teeth religiously. I tried to avoid sugar as much as humanly possible - which is no easy feat, I might add. I absolutely guarantee I flossed better than everyone I know, including my dentist.
All that, and it still seemed like I was coming away from every routine checkup with at least one cavities to be filled and bills to pay.
And the worst part? It wasn’t the pain or discomfort or even the constant cycle of dental bills to pay. It was my dentist, tut-tutting at me from behind a mask, and knowing that there was nothing I could do to convince him that I had actually done my very best.
I felt out of control. Furious. I simply couldn’t understand why keeping my teeth free of cavities was so simple for everyone else.
I had given up hope that I’d ever truly be rid of cavities.
Things changed when I moved to Cincinnati for a new job.
When it came time for my first appointment with my new dentist, I walked in anticipating all of those same feelings - fear of getting caught with more cavities, the shame of having to explain myself, and the frustration of having yet another painful dental procedure.
What I hadn’t expected was to be given some hope.
After looking over my records, my new dentist said, “Well, it looks like you’ve really struggled with cavities.”
I could feel my shame and frustration mounting as he asked about my history with cavities, my brushing habits, and all the various techniques and expensive procedures I had tried to get rid of cavities.
And then he asked me a question I’d never heard from a dentist before.
And, honestly, this question completely flipped my whole perspective on cavities upside-down.
More importantly, it gave me the solution I had been hoping for.