Monday, March 16, 2009

cavities and community

here is a recent blog from one of the pastors at my church, josh patterson:

I have a good friend who just went to the dentist and has nine cavities. At one time? Nine? I asked my friend, “Do you brush with sugar?” How is this possible? I thought it had to be some kind of record. But, my friend informed me that we have another mutual friend who had 13 cavities in one visit. This was not as shocking to me because this friend is from Louisiana and, well, just the fact that there are 13 teeth in the first place is something noteworthy.

The cavity scandal generated a lot of questions for me. I began polling people to better understand this mystery, and, hopefully to find the key to cavity free teeth. Did you have your teeth sealed at the dentist? Most had. I asked if people brushed. Most do (at least once a day). Do you floss? Most don’t (count me in the “no” category). In general most people had their teeth sealed, brushed daily and flossed intermittently. Isn’t this the formula we are supposed to follow? Close. The last piece of the puzzle is a regular trip to the dentist. And, interestingly enough, an infrequent visit to the dentist was the common denominator in my lackluster research.

What does this have to do with anything? Apparently, a lot. A visit to the dentist is a preventative measure. It gives us the opportunity to catch something early. It allows us the chance to have someone else assess the situation and help. My friends who are cavity laden have waited years between a visit to the dentist (they had dental insurance the whole time). This has led me to think about the parallel to my own life. Neglecting checkups from others is costly.

If I live in isolation, never open up and let someone else check out what’s going on, then I run the risk of rotting out. I might be doing some of the “prescribed” measures, but I can’t do these alone. They are insufficient in isolation and are most effective in community. Cavities are one thing, but rotting your heart is a whole new issue. Who knew that cavities and community had some parallels?