Up until this month I hadn’t visited a dentist for nine years. I’m not scared of the dentist, I didn’t have any expensive dental work outstanding, in fact, quite the opposite.
Between getting my “adult” teeth and going to university I had no dental work done. The dentist advised me to use an electric toothbrush and told me I had good teeth. So when I moved for uni, I stopped going to the dentist. I couldn’t be bothered registering for a local one, and found booking an appointment whilst home visiting my family to be time consuming, and considering I never even had my teeth cleaned it really did feel like a waste of time. Fast forward to now, nine years later, and I wish I hadn’t been quite so nonchalant.
Like I say, over the years I hadn’t been avoiding the dentist, I had a couple of bouts of wisdom tooth pain, and usually on the third day I’d say if it lasted one more day, I’d book an appointment, at which point the pain would subside. I never felt anything was bad enough to need to go. However, I did slightly resent the fact you have to pay for the appointment even when they do seemingly nothing.
Before moving to Canada, both my mum and my husband’s mum told us that we should visit the dentist. Neither of us paid attention – it was another time consuming thing to do in our already packed schedules of packing and organising and visiting people before we left. Upon arrival we both continued in our normal manner, not seeing the need to make the appointment.
One of my colleagues told me a few weeks ago how she’d been to the dentist on our work’s health plan and hadn’t had to pay hardly anything but got some good dental work done. This convinced me enough to check out our health plan. When I saw that it would essentially cost me nothing I decided to bite the bullet and find a dentist.
I don’t know if dentists have just changed a lot in the last decade or if N. American dental offices are just a lot more high tech than UK NHS ones, but my word it was fancy! I had several X-rays taken, digital imaging of my whole mouth, photos taken all the while Netflix was playing old episodes of Friends on a TV screen over the chair.
The dentist was a young woman, probably around my age, and was lovely – super down to earth, and chatty. The dental hygienist was much the same. When it came to talking about my teeth after the exam the dentist actually showed me my teeth on a computer screen, and manipulated the 3D image using the touch screen. Honestly, I felt like I was in the future.
The thing all three women kept saying to me during my appointment was that they were very impressed considering I’d not seen a dentist in a decade. I took this as a compliment to be honest, and it stroked my ego in thinking I’d not done a bad thing… Then they told me that I’d need to have four fillings. Doh! They also said to me that I had an hours appointment booked for cleaning, scaling and polishing, but given how long it’s been since I last had a clean, it might take longer than the allotted hour so I may have to come back for a second appointment. Seriously, kick me whilst I’m down guys!!!
Thankfully, it all worked out in the one hour and I left with clean and shiny teeth and an appointment for my next round of treatment, and some advisories on how to avoid future fillings. It was also mostly covered my insurance which was good. I spoke to my mum and she said it would have cost pretty much the same on the NHS so that also was a relief!
So here’s the thing, I have been rubbish at reading the Bible lately. I’ve found it difficult, irrelevant and difficult. Yes I said it twice, because I found it doubley difficult. We’ve been attending a church in the evenings occasionally since we’ve been here and they’ve been running a summer devotional through Psalms. So through June – August the whole church will have read from the beginning to the end of Psalms and whether they’re vacationing or at the church they’ll still be connected into what everyone else is reading. Great idea! They even produced this gorgeous picture filled magazine-style book of Psalms which has a day to a double page spread. This daily reading has then been accompanied by a short video devotional unpacking each day’s reading. It’s made the reading hugely accessible and approachable.
However, I really started dragging my feet around 20 days in because every Psalm seemed to be the same thing. David was moaning about the enemy coming against him but saying his trust was in God. Every Psalm seemed the same. Over and over again. It really started to drag.
After my visit to the dentist though, I felt this moment of clarity. It wouldn’t have felt like a drag to David. All he was doing was praying, talking to God, speaking of his current predicament and sharing that – it was a daily conversation. Yes it might be repetitive to me, but I wasn’t living in it – it probably felt worse to David. So, similar to my approach to dental care, maybe I could learn from David – that having a check up or check in every once in a while isn’t as good as regularity.
It’s fine to check in every now and then, but when we are walking daily in a relationship with someone, conversation flows naturally, you recognise voice and tone, you think about each other, things remind you of them, you talk about them to others. Obviously I’m not saying go to the dentist every day, but if I had been going every couple of years as I was meant to, I probably could have avoided these fillings. If I spent time with God daily and walked out my life with him on the reg, then I’d understand His words more, and recognise Him when He guides me.
This Psalms devotional is definitely helping me regain some structure back into my routine around spending time in God’s Word. Watching the devotional videos is helping me to look for things I wouldn’t naturally see when I read the Bible.
It’s not an overnight fix. Much like when the dentist gave me my advisories on how to avoid future cavities, I feel like I’m gaining control back into my spiritual life on how to avoid pits and long silences in my faith in the future – for my overall health!
So here’s my advice, if it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist – go book an appointment. If it’s been a while since you picked up your Bible – go find an easy daily devotional to get you back in that mindset of connecting with God. These things are there to make us healthier, so let’s not avoid them for so long in the future!