After a botched filling, my dentist made a gigantic mistake and revealed to me the doctrine of bad flossing.
And it’s something a lot of us may deal with more than we realize.
A Filling Gone Wrong
A few months ago I received some bad news from my dentist. It seemed I had a tooth that needed a filling. The issue was that the tooth was so near a poorly made crown that it was difficult to floss correctly… more on that later.
But what was really at issue was the filling. I went in to get a pretty deep filling and sat through the usual discomfort of the dentist chair as the dentist drilled and poked at my tooth. After a lengthy visit, everything was complete.
Then the pain began, and I would soon discover the doctrine of bad flossing.
A Painful Visit
I expected the pain on day one. And I was not surprised by it on day two, three, or four. However, by day five I began to grow concerned. After a few more days and some painful nights, I made an appointment to come in.
The pain in my tooth was dull and loud. It was like a constant nagging turned up to 8. I was unable to eat on one side of my mouth and drinking was a nightmare.
So I told my dentist about the issue. It did not go over well. She seemed defensive and found ways to blame me for the pain. I simply wanted relief and it felt like she was trying to avoid a lawsuit by dodging any responsibility, even though I was only asking her how to remove the pain.
Then she topped it all off by revealing the doctrine of bad flossing.
A Glaring Error
After pointing out how this was not her fault and she did the best she could, she told me that it was my fault for flossing poorly in that area. She said with the crown, I had to do it in a special way because of how the crown was formed.
The problem with that was twofold. First, this is the first I knew that I needed to floss special. It’s not like the crown came with an instruction manual, or I had any clue that something was wrong.
Secondly, isn’t the dentist’s job to let me know if I’m not brushing, flossing or doing something right? After all, how would I know that I’m not? There’s no way to know except by getting my checkup. That’s the point of a checkup after all.
The person that was most able to help me realize that my flossing was bad was not me. The person that was most able to help me realize my flossing was bad was my dentist, and she had unknowingly revealed to me the doctrine of bad flossing.
A Different View
So often people look at life and are ready to disparage someone for not taking personal responsibility. After all there are people that don’t own up to their own mistakes and expect others to fix it.
But quite often, we are at the mercy of other people. It’s not always in our control. The entire reason I go to the dentist twice a year is to know if things aren’t right. If I could do it myself, why would I go?
In the same way, there are many times people don’t always have the ability to fix everything themselves. If you live in Flint, Michigan, for instance, you’re not in control of the water supply. Sure, there are things you can do, but those things add a huge burden.
Martin Luther King said, “It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” We need to realize that not every struggle people have is because of their own mistakes, and even when they are, sometimes we need to help anyway.
We need to avoid the doctrine of bad flossing and be ready to help people and not decide that they brought it on themselves. We need to realize that people often simply want to get rid of the pain, and when we try to tell them why they hurt, we only make it worse.