How to be happy seeing the dentist

Arriving early for a 2 o’clock appointment, I grabbed the key with the purple toothbrush and walked down the hall to the Ladies. Resting a bit inside the clean, modern stall I began to realize how happy I was to be seeing the dentist.

How is it possible, you might ask, and rightly so. “Happy to see the dentist” is not typical. In fact, earlier this week a nephew posted on Facebook that – in spite of a diagnosis indicating the contrary – his dentist asked him if he wanted a root canal anyway. (Sure, and may I have a colonoscopy with that?)

While my bottom teeth are being reorganized, I'm finding even more reasons to be happy about life.

While my bottom teeth are being reorganized, I’m finding even more reasons to be happy about life.

But my happiness wasn’t about dental procedures – this visit was just a monthly progress report and to pick up Invisalign trays 5 and 6 – what made me happy was realizing with gratitude and great joy some things I so often take for granted. In less time than it takes to rinse and spit, I had these thoughts:

  • Wow, so grateful for being healthy enough to drive myself to the dentist! To afford a car, gas and the three bucks to park on Wrightwood RIGHT IN FRONT OF a green parking-money machine.
  • My appointment is in Lincoln Park where I lived for more than 20 years. I had two apartments and two condos within six blocks of this office. This neighborhood is home to me and it feels good each time in I come back, in spite of green parking-money machines.
  • Ted Gehrig is my dentist deluxe. Not only is he highly competent and skilled, he’s a great guy! Always upbeat, gracious, smiling, sharing what’s going on in his life and with his family. I figure he’s been taking care of my choppers and me off and on for more than 25 years. He told me recently he doesn’t have plans to retire. “People retire from work. This isn’t work. I enjoy it – so what’s to retire?!”

An added bonus to visiting Dr. Ted is that I get to have lunch with downtown friends and family, or stop by the Shedd Aquarium to visit a leafy sea dragon, or pick up some Meyer lemon olive oil at Old Town Oils.

I can honestly say that even if I was seeing Ted for a drill and fill, I’d be okay with that. He and his team do a great job of making sure their patients are comfortable. But it’s about more than teeth; it’s about finding joy in the everyday. Turning a visit to the dentist into a trip down gratitude lane.


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