Small Things

#Warning: Here there be #hashtags.

On Friday, I had a dentist appointment. It was the standard six month check-in, the kind I’ve avoiding for all of my adult life (also my childhood, #familyhabits), but when they asked if I wanted to schedule my next appointment at the end of my last, I said yes, and that easily it was done.

My appointment went well. My past appointments have not.

A couple of years ago I went to the dentist for the first time an eight year hiatus (I still had all my teeth so #nobigdeal) and was scared senseless. The devil dentist informed me that I’d need braces—again!—and that if I didn’t have about $2,000 worth of work immediately, I would likely lose all my teeth by age 45. #Nojoke.

I went home. I cried. Boyfriend very reasonably suggested that I get a second opinion. I kept crying. He looked up a different dentist on yelp and I called an made an appointment. The receptionist was very nice and got me in the next day (I was still crying and I think I freaked her out).

Next day: went to a different dentist in a different part of town. Dentist said everything was fine (obviously everything was very clean, I’d just been to a different dentist). He took new x-rays, said I didn’t need any work, didn’t even have a cavity (#perfectrecord). I may have cried again.  $2,000 was a lot of money then. It’s still a lot of money now, particularly to spend on braces I didn’t need.

I didn’t go back to the dentist again for a long time, probably close to two years. I didn’t have dental insurance and even though my second dentist had been very nice, I didn’t bother to make an appointment.

When I started my new job, dental insurance was part of the package, and since I was paying for it, I figured I might as well use it. I was nervous. I don’t have a good track record of picking good dentists. The last one I picked because they sent a mailer. The good one didn’t take my insurance, so they were out.

About six months ago, I ended up going to a dentist that opened up down the street from our apartment. It looked pretty clean from the outside, and they took my insurance. Plus, I’m more likely to go somewhere if I don’t to drive. Boyfriend looked at me like I was crazy. #Researcher. I figured the worst thing that would happen would be that they’d tell me I needed $2,000 in dental work and I wouldn’t be fooled this time.

I told them my story up front, so they didn’t try to upsell me or scare me with visions of rotting gums in middle age. They did suggest a retainer for my under-bite, and I took them up on that after going home and thinking about it. They took x-rays and they were nice. The dentist was a lady and I’m a misandrist like my mom so I like dentists and mechanics if they’re ladies (#jk but also #nojk). The tech talked to me very seriously about flossing and periodontitis, especially since I still have my wisdom teeth. I let them schedule me for a check-up when I left.

I started flossing. Not every day, but most days. Boyfriend went to the dentist and they suggested he start using mouthwash, so he bought some and now I use that too. These are not big changes. There are probably some people reading this, thinking “oh my god! How did you not floss and rinse before?!” but I just didn’t. I brushed. I didn’t have cavities. I didn’t think it would make that much difference. They were small things. They were inconvenient because I’d never done them.

Shockingly, the dentists were right (not the bad dentist, but probably every non-evil dentist in the world). Flossing and rinsing make a difference. I reversed my gingivitis. I saved some money because I didn’t have to have my wisdom teeth taken out (so far) or any other unpleasant expenses. I didn’t have any cavities. I didn’t need any fillings or caps.

This is a long post to get to the point, which is that small things matter. Small things like brushing and flossing matter, and often times, the tried-and-true method is tried so much because it’s true.

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