I had the most amazing experience today. I went to the dentist. That in itself should have made me astoundingly thankful. Somehow my horribly weak teeth with their gaping cavities made it three years without needing a root canal. Messed up hormones wreak havoc on teeth, but somehow mine decided to take a break and let me survive until I got insurance, money for co-pays, energy to schedule an appointment, and health to be able to sit long enough for dental work to be done.
From the one time I touched on this subject here before I am painfully aware that others have no idea what it is like to not be incredibly privileged when it comes to dental care. But even though living without dental care was an extreme source of stress for me (seriously, I’d show you pictures of my mouth if it weren’t so gross!) there were only a few days where I had reason for serious worry. There were only a few suspicious headaches that could have been indicative of something very, very bad.
And if something only bad–and not very, very bad–had happened, I would have found help somehow. Somehow.
But at my appointment today I was reminded that that is not the case for everyone.
About a year after my teeth fell apart an American boy died because dental care is apparently a special privilege, not something one has a right to as a citizen of one of the wealthiest countries this world is likely to ever see. Yet somehow I managed to get a good start to taking care of my teeth, and survive quite well until today when I could really get help.
The dental hygienist who saw me was absolutely amazing. She not only treated me with astounding competence and care, she also told me about some of her other jobs, including bringing dental care to some of the poorest schools.
And it was incredible to be treated so well while at the same time being informed about the reality of dental care just a few miles away.
There isn’t really anything for me to do right now with this knowledge. But I have it. I have both dental care, and an appreciation for those who do not have it. And I suppose that is something!
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