View from the Dentist’s Chair

(To be read with a southern twang)

Just went to the dentist. Generally, I don’t mind so much. But today I think the technician took several layers of gum tissue off with her scraper thingy. And I’m pretty sure she flung some red toothpaste into my hair although on further investigation I don’t see it. My teeth kind of feel abused, like they’ve been pushed into another time zone. And all the Chapstick in the world won’t repair the damage my lips suffered.

Nevertheless, we had a lovely chat covering visits to the fair over the summer, today’s politics, school news and events, and the joys of being female. Well, she chatted away glibly and I answered in grunts and grins while full on sentences of wit and wisdom percolated in my head. Then came the inevitable question… are you flossing regularly? Define regularly… like once every full moon or every fortnight or on special holidays or the week before my next dental appointment because if that qualifies as regularly than yes I can honestly say yes. I hate flossing my teeth. It just seems so… gross. Threading string through your teeth, wrapping the wet parts around your fingers, trying to extricate your fingers from the tight, tourniquet of floss, and then finding that the dog is licking the floss out of the garbage bin next to the toilet… GROSS.

Ahhh, the dentist office… the only place in town with 20 year old posters on the ceiling staring down at you and with 70s folk rock playing in the background. White lights, plastic on everything, people walking around in gloves and funny glasses and masks – these seem to define a dentist office. It’s the only place where sucking on a straw is encouraged, where drooling is appropriate, and where adults get to wear bibs guilt free. And yet, this modern day torture parlor is so glamorous and so posh and so readily available.

In the coming week, our second CompassioNow/Compassion Tea team will be heading to Africa and with them they will be taking a portable dentist chair. 0-8The chair folds up and can be carried on one’s back. It has a solar panel so that when the dentist is hiking through the bush to the next clinic, he or she can also be charging the portable dental drill attached to the chair. Because there aren’t dentist’s offices in the bush and because most people in the bush of Africa don’t go to the dentist for a general cleaning. They would (if they could) go because they need a tooth extracted, because they’ve been in pain for months with toothache, because they don’t brush regularly let alone floss. No, the dentist has to come to them, in an airplane because there are no drivable ways to get to them. And the dentist comes about as regularly as I floss. There are so many villages in the bush, so many crooked smiles, so many teeth to extract, so much pain to relieve.

Which reminds me of my daughter who over the weekend got in the truck as we headed out for the day’s camping adventure and realized she hadn’t brushed her teeth. A solid 15 minutes of complaining, wailing, pleading for gum no one had ensued. It’s so good to be so pampered.

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