If you’ve ever seen me laugh, you’ll notice a mouth full of silvery fillings. I’ve been to the dentists to get work done around several times in the last year and a half. 3 root canals, 10 cavities, and thousands of dollars later, I’d say I’ve learned some things.
Everyone who reads my writings knows that I love an extended metaphor. I look at everyday things and situations and see what kind of message God could get through to us through them. I’m a firm believer that God’s creation tells of His glory and the way He has designed the world to operate.
I’d like to compare a tooth to each of us. We’re all living organisms. I used to think that it didn’t matter what I ate or what my dental habits were because I really thought that teeth were dead just like hair. But we ladies know that while hair is dead, it can still get damaged with split ends because of us not taking care of it.
So we’re the teeth, and the way we eat is like the way we live. High fructose corn syrup from sodas and sugary candies and desserts can be likened to the sin we choose to participate in. We CHOOSE to eat candy and not brush just like we can CHOOSE to tell a lie and not repent. But in some cases, much of the damage comes from not repenting of the sin as opposed to the sin itself. Some of us have a sweet tooth, and it doesn’t mean that we’re going to die because it. There are some sins you won’t die from, but you definitely need to repent of them before you begin to engage and worse behaviors.
I love chocolate, ice cream, cake, sweet tea, and soda. But when I was younger, I did not like to floss. I didn’t mind brushing, but I HATED flossing. It was too much like work. I wanted to get on with my day, and flossing was only holding me back. I would brush my teeth, but I was unaware at the time that there was sugar lurking between the teeth and eating away at my enamel trying to get to the pulp of my tooth. When I smiled, my teeth looked white, so I assumed it was all good. But the enzymes that come from our saliva interact with the carbohydrates in the sugar we eat, and they make something like an acid that eat away at our teeth slowly but surely. Much like how some sins can eat away at our souls slowly but surely.
We may do something wrong, but if things look alright afterwards, we’ll just forget about it. Like if I choose to take five quarters from a rich neighbor for a bottle of orange juice, I know that it won’t hurt him. He’s not going to miss a $1.25 at all. And I know that I’m not rich like he is AND orange juice is good for me. So after the juice goes down, I forget all about it. I wasn’t caught, and I don’t feel any guilt because dude’s rich. I figure he’d probably give it to me if I asked, so it doesn’t matter. He might even have given me more money than that. So I go on about my business without repenting.But stealing is stealing. There’s no way to dilute that truth.
So it is with flossing. If things look good on the outside, we feel okay about our sin. But we don’t know that justifying that particular theft may lead us to justify us stealing more money from rich people. We’ll start saying, “He’s rich! He won’t miss me taking his $5.00.” Then it could go up to $20.00 and $100.00. Next thing you know, you could possibly justify stealing a car with no guilt because the guy might have five cars.
The reason I first went to the dentist after about 8 years or more of not seeing one, was because I noticed a black dot on one of my teeth, and it hurt. I knew it was a cavity, so I was going to the dentist to get the black dot scratched off because I couldn’t get it off myself. I actually tried to get something pointy to dig it out with. Ha! I had no idea how serious it was. I had no idea that the black dot was not the problem. The black dot was signifying a more serious problem going on. Make a long story short, the dentist dude found out I was going to need a root canal because of an abscess tooth. I felt so bad because needing a root canal is a totally preventable situation. Some people who got AIDS from consensual sex feel bad because they know that in their case AIDS was 100% avoidable. I know it was just a tooth, but I felt so sad that I had hurt my own body like that. I didn’t want to loose my tooth!
The dentist asked me about my eating habits and dental hygiene. I told him that I do love sweets, but that I brush. When he asked me if I flossed, I told him that I seldom flossed. I felt like a little kid being told by a man how to floss. I was like, “I’m grown! I know how to floss!” I just didn’t want to, and because of it, I eventually had to get the root canal.
Not only did I have to eventually get a crown for the tooth, but it was not cheap! Dental work is expensive. If someone doesn’t have enough money, they can just pay about $25-$50 to get the tooth extracted (pulled out totally from the root). I didn’t want a gap in my mouth, so I paid the price to get the work done.
When we do sins and don’t deal with them appropriately, meaning we don’t confess them to God and stop doing them (repent), we will have to pay the price. It will be death or other consequences. You can lose the tooth, or you can pay the price for the bad stuff you chose to chew on and not repent of. Dental work is awful. I hate it! They put painful shots in your mouth, they put this big dam in your mouth, and they take radiographs (which is like an x-ray), where they have to put this thing in your mouth that feels like a razor. You have to sit there for hours with this stranger playing around grinding away at your teeth while you slobber all over yourself. Then you have to pay him big bucks for torturing you. I had no insurance so it was no discount for me.
Keep in mind, I thought I had ONE cavity. They found about thirteen. I needed three root canals. So I got three crowns too. Then after the radiograph they find out I have 7 extra teeth behind my gums!
What that meant to me was that sometimes when you go to professionals, they can uncover some stuff you never knew was a problem. It reminded me of repressed memories. I never knew those teeth were back there, but they are, and the dentist said that in about a year or so, they’d really be bothering me. So I have to get them all extracted. The extra teeth are not my fault; I had nothing to do with them. But I will have to take responsibility for them.
Some stuff happens to people as children that they have no responsibility over. They are born into a bad family or go to a bad daycare or school where people exploit them. Their little minds are not able to cope or process what has happened, so they repress that memory. But when they get older, God knows that they can handle it, so it becomes time to face it. The people who are responsible for the bad will more than likely not care to fix it, so the person has to be responsible to get it handled. It’s not their fault; but it is their responsibility. If they choose to ignore it, then it will definitely have a bad impact on their life in the future. They say that in most cases at about two years after a person has a child, the issues that they didn’t face as children usually resurface to wreak havoc until they choose to deal with them through therapy or spiritual intervention.
This is the last that I’ll share of what I learned about our spiritual lives and teeth. People tell me that I have a pretty smile. If you look at me head on, my teeth look all straight and white, but if you look from the side or inside, it’s not so! My teeth are not straight, and inside there are a lot of silvery and enamel colored fillings. To relate that my spiritual life, there are a lot of things that I have gone through that were not easy for me. But God got me through them all. And there’s no residual pain! My teeth will never look or be the same, but with the fillings, they’re much less likely to get cavities again. I also know now that I need to eat better, drink more fluorinated water, and FLOSS! If you see me smiling wide and walking down the street, at first glance, you’d think I had decent teeth. You’d think I never had a care in the world. But if you got close enough, you’d see that there’s a story behind the glory!