Tuesday’s Tribute: Dental Hygenists

I had my teeth cleaned last week.  While was lying on that futuristic lounge chair with my feet up in the air and my head much too close to the floor, it struck me that dental hygenists do very important work.

Before my mind embraced unschooling, in my past early life as an education snob who got excellent grades and thought that made me better than some people, I thought of a dental hygenist as someone who couldn’t hack college-level subjects. I thought of cleaning teeth as a small step above cleaning hotel rooms. I was so wrong!

Now more than ever, we all know how important it is to preserve our dental health. And who scrapes and picks and brushes and flosses us every six months, acting as our personal first line of defense against tooth decay and gum disease? Our dental hygenist, that’s who.

I don’t enjoy smelling my mouth most of the time; she practically sticks her head in my mouth. She coaxes plaque out of spaces between my teeth that I didn’t even know were there. She flosses where no human being has ever been before, drawing blood and removing Lord-knows-what.

She does this all for the higher purpose of dental health (and a paycheck). And she even gives me presents when she’s through. I especially like the cute little bottles of mouthwash.

My dental hygenist is an important part of my life. And she knows a lot. She’s a professional. I apologize for what I used to think about you, Fotini (that’s her name). Now I value you and what you do.

Since I’ve stopped judging people based on what degrees that hold or whether they work in a high-rise office building, I value so many people so much more than I did before. It’s a good feeling.

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