Thursday
Jul192007

« Theology Of Dentistry »

The god of dentistry is quite like the Judeo-Christian god. It might be more Deuteronomistic and wrathful than the forgiving Father that Jesus spoke of, but it has a sin-redemption model that the institutional Christian church would envy. The god of dentistry that has prescribed commandments of how to live has announced the toll he will take for breaking those commandments. His prophets and priests, my dentists of old, have reiterated the contract from time to time. But I am a dental sinner who needs repentance. And hopefully a merciful savior to intervene on my behalf.

This is only half joking; many of my genuine ethical lapses have been processed and repented for and perhaps even forgiven, but when it comes to the dental god? Well, my soul is tortured. I just recently got insurance through work and went in to the dentist, heart in my throat, and took the news again that I am in some bad shape with a nasty case of gum disease. The first general dentist took a look and an Xray and just straightaway referred me to a specialist. He in turn saw me a couple days ago and only added more anxiety as he gave me a 100% prognosis for needing gum surgery. Man. I don't think I ever breathed less than in the 45 minutes I was in this specialist's office. He got me an appointment to do a full mouth deep cleaning in one session, coming up in a day or so from this posting. I had this done once before, in two sessions, and I recall it wasn't so bad, perhaps because I was numbed up some. I don't recall it being as agonizing as a regular cleaning, though the work was more intense. That was three years ago or so. I should have learned from that. Even back then—and before—I was warned that things could get to where they are now.

Ah but sinning is easy! It is amazing the sorts of excuses one can muster to avoid dentistry. Lack of insurance; lack of awareness of how cheap insurance can be; the decision that maybe a guitar, computer device, or trip to the clothing store was more important; 'I went this long before.' For many years when I was depressed, I semi-purposely allowed myself to fall into disrepair as I got more and more disillusioned and sometimes ready to just check out altogether. So, in that defeatist frame of mind, what did it matter anyway? It was sort of like these religious nutjobs that go wait on a mountain top for God to end the world, but then it doesn't happen so they have to scramble for a plan B. I moved the date back a time or two myself, and it never came. So now I have to try to get back on track, and as if a genuine sinner in the church, I know I have to repent. Funny enough, after the initial dread of gum surgery and a further possibility of losing teeth, I actually felt a bit better in just knowing the path to getting on track again. Making the fix is one thing though, but the real work is in the day to day work, and that is where I have a decision before me that only I can make.

Forgive me doctor, for I have sinned.

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