The Biggest Compliment of My Life (Happened in a Dentist's Office)

There's been a whole lotta writing about teeth lately, huh? This one warrants some words. Sorta.

After going a year and a half with no - I repeat - no dental examination, I felt it was time to surrender myself to the awkward waiting rooms, blinding lights and stainless-steel prods I had been avoiding so well for so long.

First, I should mention that I have a poor track record when it comes to winning dentists' opinions. As a child, my brother and I would always have back-to-back appointments, and while his teeth garnered rave reviews ("Andrew, such a pleasure to see you! Have you kept good care of our favorite pearly-whites?!"), mine, sadly, were not as well received ("David, how many times do we have to tell you to brush your teeth?").

And the worst part was that I brushed them religiously! You could set your watch to my dental regimen. It was my brother who never brushed! He would even go as far as polishing off a bag of Skittles in bed the night before a dental examination! The situation could not have been more unjust.

That is, until recently.

Up until a week ago only one other dentist in the entire world had seen my teeth, so I had my concerns. (What if she doesn't understand my teeth like my old dentist did? Will she hate them? Have I stepped up my brushing game enough? And I know I hate, hate, hate flossing, but I've been doing it more regularly. I mean, haven't I? Oh God, I haven't! I think I skipped last Saturday! And I think I forgot to do the bottom teeth yesterday! That would explain why something's lodged down there!)

But when I sat in the chair and opened my mouth an unequivocal expression of fulfillment came over my new dentist. A lifelong search had ended. Beams of light emitted from every tooth. Choirs sang. Kittens mewed. Time itself stood still to honor the triumphant moment I was about to have. It was glorious.

She set down her tools and took off her rubber gloves, dabbing her brow with a blue handkerchief. She poised herself for what she was about to say.

(Small Hispanic woman saying the following) "Mr. Wendland, I have to say... In all my years as a dentist I have never, ever come across a set of teeth quite like yours. The are... how do I say?... magnificent."

E gads! Was this really happening?! Was this some sort of cruel prank dialed in by my former, crueler dentist, or perhaps my brother?

(Getting misty-eyed) "When such care is given to teeth, it reminds me of how good they are able look. You, Mr. Wendland, have taken exceptional care of your teeth, and I am so very pleased you came into my office today."

She really meant it! Holy cow! This was the moment I had waited so long for! (Are they really that great? I mean, I do brush - or try to brush - twice daily. Sure, sometimes it's once. Maybe she just sees a lot of homeless or wayward folks or meth-heads who don't own an actual toothbrush and have to use their fingers instead? Ever tried that? Doesn't really get the deep cleaning done.) Hooray!

I consider this the biggest compliment I have ever received in my lifetime. Call it lame, that's fine with me, but I can say that the joy this dentist brought me by ending years of mental angst and frustration is something that is hard to describe.

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