Ordinarily, you and I would think of “teething” as a remnant from our earlier parenting or pet-ownership days, when Little Ashley and Bergdorf were cutting their baby teeth, incisors, canines, bicuspids, molars, wisdom teeth or fangs.
Recent experiences, though, have made me wonder whether teething might also describe the vagaries of tooth-related matters in my later years—when my adult teeth seem to be starting to deteriorate or otherwise lose their effectiveness. This time around my teeth aren’t trying to break through gums as much as to stay healthy and functional in their bone-and-gum sockets.
My recent experiences may match your own: Several root canals, crowns and replacements of old fillings, all within the span of one month! It felt like all my teeth, gums, tiny ligaments and nerves had a meeting and decided together to throw in the towel on dental health. Thanks to the intervention of my dentist and endodontists in two locations in the country, that didn’t happen….
Over the past weeks, I’ve learned again how dental health connects to so many other aspects of well-being. AND to my emotional and logical capabilities. Like any smaller body parts – See St. Paul’s take on this matter in Corinthians 12:24-26—my teeth seem to affect how I feel about myself, how accurately I perceive what’s going on around me, and how motivated I am to go about my daily life with spirit. Perhaps tooth pain affects everything else?
In talking with dental professionals over the years, I’m fairly certain that many of us may have overlooked dental health as an important element in our total well-being. And despite years of reminders—remember Mr. Tooth from elementary school dental hygiene lessons?—many of us may still not brush or floss regularly or correctly. Our sugar-rich diets discourage dental health. Teething of a different sort may be on our older adult horizons.
I may be wrong here, but this feels like one of those places where many of us now are paying for tooth-related misbehaviors and lazy attitudes earlier in life. By the time we arrive at our later years, the results of taking for granted the biting-and-chewing parts of our bodies—“the temples of the Holy Ghost”—may come full circle: Dental problems and conditions that can be costly because they are difficult to correct.
During these days when I’ve experienced endodontists’ grace-filled wizardry, I’ve thought a lot about matters: referred pain (one bad tooth sharing its discomfort with all the rest); the physics of biting, the wonder of chewing and swallowing; the presence of precious metals and composites inside my mouth; all the folks who have no chance to get their teeth fixed and the precise, steady-handed skills of dental health professionals.
An ironic side note: Even though there are strong correlations between dental health and several other aspects of well-being, Medicare does not cover most dental care, procedures or supplies—like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates or other dental devices. Dental insurance is not always a part of health insurance plans.
Where am I going with all this? To remind you to take care of your teeth—and the teeth of those you love. With the likelihood that dental problems may become a vexing part of your overall health as you age, you can’t escape the fact that a little preventative care is a lot easier and less-expensive than the expert care of dentists, endodontists and oral surgeons.
Something important to mull over. Or chew on….