I recently went to the dentist to have some minor restoration on the edges of my front teeth that had worn down with age. Because I’ve been seeing the same dentist for over ten years and because I truly love my dentist (he is the gentlest dentist I’ve ever had!), I was a bit carefree about the whole process. He had recommended I have this work done and he does an excellent job of my oral care, so I just said yes, and I didn’t even think to look in the mirror after the procedure. I had momentarily dropped my level of self-care. For all those same reasons, I’m a long-standing patient who has always had excellent results, he also didn’t think to offer me a mirror before I left the dental chair.
I was all the way home before I actually remembered to have a have a look.
Oh my! I got a bit of a shock as the restoration work made my teeth appear too long and I didn’t like the look of it at all. So, the next morning I emailed my dentist telling him I was unhappy with the new look – and we would have to take them down a bit. Within a few minutes of sending the email, his office called to arrange for me to come in.
I said it could wait until Monday but my dentist insisted I come in straight away. He wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing I was unhappy or self-conscious about the new look teeth. Anyway, I couldn’t make it that day but agreed to come in first thing the following morning.
When I arrived at the dental practice, my dentist greeted me at the door and ushered me into the chair. It was a Friday but the practice was closed. We were chatting away while he was organising the instruments. It seems that they (he and his wife are the two dentists at the practice) decided they only wanted to work a four-day week. I made the comment that “well, having Fridays available might help with emergencies.”
And he replied, “Oh we never have any dental emergencies.” He must have seen the puzzled look on my face. I thought dental emergencies would be a very common thing. He went on to say that their practice was a ‘client referred practice’ – meaning that they don’t take new patients, unless they come as a friend or family member of existing clients of the practice. I probably still had a contemplative look on my face at that point! How did this prevent dental emergencies?
He explained further. He and his wife had made a decision that they wanted patients/clients that took good care with their dental hygiene. Self-care is important to them as a working family and equally important for their patients. They had set the standard of the quality of patients that they wanted to provide care for. Under the model of practice that they have set up, all of their patients have regular check-ups and cleaning with the dental hygienist who has worked with them for a number of years. She spots any potential problems and then she refers the patient on to one of the dentists for work, if/when needed. This way there is never any dental emergencies because everyone is taking responsibility for their own oral health.
My dentist said he wouldn’t want to take money from someone who neglects their health, someone who hadn’t been to the dentist in six or ten years and suddenly has an abscess that needs immediate attention. "Please, I don't want your money, take it to some other dentist." The neglectful patient is in pain and the dentist then becomes involved in the milieu, becoming part of the painful problem and required procedure. Its an experience they don’t want to have, honouring their own sensitivity to other’s pain that is brought on by their own disregard.
My dentist is not a Student of the Livingness, in fact has probably never even heard of my community that understands everything is energy. And yet, his lived experience is that everything is energy. He knows that how someone takes care of themselves creates an energy. He is aware that money is energy and that money carries the energy of the quality of the person paying the money.
I appreciated the reward of having this extra time with this man, who happens to be my dentist. Even though it meant another trip – and at the cost of petrol nowadays that is a serious consideration – I felt like I had been enriched by hearing how he and his wife had set a standard for the patients that they are willing to care for, people who take responsibility for their own health.
This simple story illustrates a large problem we have in society today, especially in ‘developed countries’. Humanity is not taking responsibility for their individual state of well-being. People drink, smoke, do recreational drugs, eat processed food, overeat, undereat, don’t get enough sleep, don’t get enough exercise, watch violent dark movies, or isolate themselves, withdrawing from life. There are all manner of ways that we can abuse ourselves. And then we trot off to the psychiatrist, doctor or the emergency room and expect them to fix us up, so we can go back to our old ways of being. Just imagine what a different world it would be if we each took responsibility for our health. The doctors and nurses wouldn’t be exhausted and burned out. The hospitals wouldn’t be overflowing. Health care might even be affordable. So much would change if we all took responsibility to exercise self-care, emotionally and physically.
Anyway, just some musings on self-care from a dental chair.
Gayle Cue loves writing about life, reflecting on every day miracles and pondering on the big picture.
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