Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Dentist

USA Today ran another of those “what are we spending our money on during the recession?” articles. No surprises, really, but here was a good point:

Still, when the economy grinds to a halt, people clench their teeth. That could mean spending money at the dentist.

There's no statistical evidence, but dentists such as Dr. Matthew Messina in Cleveland, Ohio., are seeing more people with tooth-grinding injuries.

"The body responds the same way to a real threat, 'There's a burglar in the house,' as it does to a perceived stress like 'I'm worried I'm going to lose the house,"' Messina said.

Going to the dentist is something people skimp on when money is tight. While there is no statistical proof that tooth-grinding injuries are on the rise, I am pretty sure there is statistical evidence somewhere that skipping dental cleanings will cost more in treatment later on. And treatment is unpleasant.

My parents were always having dental issues when I was a kid. On top of that, I had two bad experiences in my youth – where the dentist did not listen to me and pain and fear ensued. I went six or seven years without going to the dentist. Finally, I knew I had to go back. And I was terrified.

My father gave me an awesome piece of advice:

“You are an adult and you are the client. No one gets to touch you without your consent. If the dentist isn’t listening, you get up out of the chair and walk out the door.”

I’ve never had to do that, and for all practical purposes, it isn’t quite…practical. But the thought was empowering nonetheless. I found a dentist in my neighborhood that is about my age – which was to minimize the feeling of “must obey this authority figure” anxiety. His assistant is fabulous.

I am a convert.

If you don’t have a regular dentist, please find one. And if you have one, please don’t skip cleanings. And remember to floss!

1 comment:

Fluffycat said...

I didn't go for 6 years in my twenties, mostly out of the bad memories and fear. I think most dentists now make an effort to be more consumer oriented, and I agree w/ your dad's advice. You are the customer.