I moved from Toronto thirteen years ago. In the thirteen years since, I have replaced my doctor, my hairdresser, my chiropractor, and my naturopath. What I have not been able to replace is my absolutely wonderful dentist. Over the years, I have tried other dentists but I have always ended up back with my own guy. My dentist took over his dad’s practice when I was in university so I have been with the practice since the tender age of three.
A few months ago I overheard a conversation on the GoTrain between two moms. They were talking about the fact that neither of their families were covered by health plans at work. What that meant for them, among other things, was that they could not afford to take their kids to the dentist. One of the moms went on to tell her friend that her husband was about to change companies and that a comprehensive health plan was part of the package. And she was absolutely over-the-moon at the prospect of taking her kids to the dentist.
They got off the GoTrain still chattering away. I turned my attention back to my book and promptly forgot about the overheard conversation.
That is, until today.
Today was ‘dentist day’. The round-trip driving time, depending on traffic, is anywhere from ninety minutes to four hours. Therefore, ‘dentist day’ can take the better part of the day. And, today, rather than stressing about getting the kids back to school, I decided we would take the whole day off. As our appointment was booked for 11:00, we all had the opportunity to sleep in (on a Monday morning, no less). The traffic on the way into the city was light so the trip in was easy. And after our (cavity-free!!!) visit to our lovely dentist, I took the kids out for lunch where we pigged-out and talked and laughed.
On the drive home, as we were singing along to Billy Joel, it occurred to me how happy I was feeling. As I tuned into my happiness I realized that three cavity-free and sparkly clean kids had had a huge impact on my general outlook on life. And, in that moment, the GoTrain conversation from months before came back to me and my entire perspective on the dentist shifted.
I have only ever looked at my bi-annual dental visits with a mixture of dread and repugnance. And, in all the years I have been going to the dentist, I have never appreciated the opportunity to care for the dental health of my family. I have never even considered how stressful it would be if I did not have the resources to care for my kids’ teeth.
I shared my epiphany with the kids as we drove and together we decided that ‘dentist day’ from now on was going to be a celebration. It was going to include a day off school, a sleep-in, a nice lunch and an opportunity to be together. I certainly don’t expect my kids to start loving their dentist visits but I sure would like them to have a positive experience.
And, just maybe, somewhere in the future, they will have the opportunity to understand that going to the dentist is a ‘get-to’ rather than a ‘have-to.’