Slavery to Smiling and Love

Toothaches suck. When I was sixteen I woke up one morning with a throbbing pain in my mouth. At first it wasn’t so bad, I could tolerate it. All I had to do was chew my food on the other side of my mouth. Then before I knew it, the pain was so bad I couldn’t focus on anything else.

It’s true that I neglected my oral hygiene when I was young. I was never told to brush my teeth before bed or in the morning when I left for school. In fact, my own mom was wearing dentures when she was in her forties.

The only time I even attempted to brush my teeth was when my uncles would come for a visit. When I saw them drive up our driveway, I would run to the bathroom and brush my front teeth as fast as I could. Every time they would come for a visit, they would ask us (my sister and me) if we have been brushing our teeth. They grew up without habit of oral hygiene and ended up with some expensive crowns.

I would open my mouth real wide, and they would take a look inside, and then give my sister and I a pat on the back for what looked like clean shiny teeth.

Although the quick brush was able to fool my uncles into believing we brushed our teeth on a regular basis, the deceit was not fooling the natural consequences of what I would have to face!

The only time I ever visited the Dentist when I was young, was when the pain was so unbearable due to the abscess in my tooth that was infected. I sat in this uncomfortable chair, and when the Doc looked into my mouth, “WHOA! It’s the Grand Canyon!” No joke. The Dentist said I needed a root canal and a crown. Since we didn’t have the money to pay for such a procedure, he prescribed me some antibiotics and very strong painkillers in the mean time.

This was the summer of my Sophomore year and we were headed to Farmington, New Mexico for a Basketball Camp. I don’t remember anything from that trip. I was so high from the medicine and the abscess wasn’t going to relent, so the entire trip I was sleeping in the Hotel and trying my best to stay awake on the bench. Pretty sure I didn’t get a lot of playing time.

When I finally arrived home, I was able to see another Dentist in the rural town of Questa, a much smaller village and so the cost of seeing a Dentist was cheaper than one in the small village of Taos.

The Dentist told my dad that I needed a root canal and a crown. My dad refused. He told the Dentist to just pull it. The Dentist explained that doing that would cause my teeth to shift and I was too young to pull my permanent teeth.

My dad didn’t care, he didn’t have the money to pay for the procedure. The Dentist refused to pull it. So he had his secretary call around and found a Dentist in Santa Fe who would do it for practically no cost.

That also meant I had to deal with the pain and taking the painkillers until I was able to see the Savior, my Hero of saving my tooth.

When I was finally able to sit and have the procedure done, the Dentist was able to save my tooth with a root canal and placed a “temporary” crown on it. That will be important information later.

You would think after that ordeal I would have been better with my oral hygiene. Well, it just wasn’t a habit I formed.

Fast forward to my early twenties, and I kept getting sick. No matter how many times I took my antibiotics, the sickness kept coming back.

Since I was a young mother of two children, and did not have a good paying job, rather I had no job because I was still working on my undergraduate degree, we were able to receive Medicaid, which meant I could start seeing a Dentist. When the x-rays were developed, the Dentist showed me this black stuff hanging around my tooth that was saved a few years ago. The crown, that was supposed to be temporary, was leaking and bacteria was growing and making me sick.

So I had to undergo ANOTHER root canal and this time, I was fitted for a proper crown. I remember when I saw my Dentist for a follow up and the Hygienist was giving me a good cleaning. She was telling me that I needed to do a better job with my oral hygiene, so I humbly asked her, “Can you show me how to properly brush my teeth?”

She smiled, grabbed the model they use when teaching young children, and she showed me exactly “how” to keep my teeth clean with floss and a good toothbrush, and therefore free from any oral crisis.

To this day I am a slave to my toothbrush! Isn’t life just the same way?

If you really think about- there really isn’t any other way to live, even though we don’t like it.

In other words, if we want to be free from cavities, root canals, crowns and such we have to become a slave to the toothbrush. We can’t be free from the toothbrush and expect to have a clean, shiny smile free of pain and bad breath.

If we want to have financial peace and we continue to charge credit cards and take out loans, then you are a slave to the lenders, no peace there! In order to be free from those nasty collectors and bankruptcy, you must be a slave to saving your money and managing it with a budget.

If we want to be physically fit, we have to become a slave to physical exercise and eating right. Otherwise we are a slave to heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

If we want to have loving, healthy relationships, we have to become slaves to forgiveness, compromise, setting boundaries, and let go of the need to be right all the time. Otherwise we end up becoming a slave to assholeism–(don’t think that is a word) which is a case of resentment with a touch of bitterness and pride.

I think you get the picture, and maybe the word slave is too strong an adjective to describe it, however, the more I think about it, the more I realize that although the word slave does have a negative connotation, the consequences of being a slave to certain ideas, habits, and life styles will result in a high cost– whether it be a negative result, or a positive result. So I do believe the word slave fits just right, because depending on our choice of who we are a slave to will determine the quality of our lives.

Yeah, that did not make any sense! Maybe I should smile more, because I can and it’s my best feature, and let the world know, I am a slave to love and hope and the rest is just that–live and let live!

LOVE ALWAYS and SMILE!

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