As I sat down in the dentist chair for the 5th time with the same tooth I started to reflect on some life lessons. I rewound to a few months ago when I visited my dentist with this same sore tooth. She took a look and an X-ray too. The diagnosis was that the tooth was bad and the prognosis was that I was on a slippery slope to lose it sooner than later. There were three choices: a filling; an extraction or a root canal.
I am a corporate troubleshooter and I started to ask some questions to understand what we were dealing with and what each intervention would mean. The ‘filling solution’ would only provide temporary relief and at some point I would lose the tooth to decay – infact this wasn’t an option anymore. The ‘extraction solution’ was a sure way to deal with the problem, but would leave one big problem – a gap and hey chewing bones and my favourite…chibage (corn) could prove tricky because this is a premolar (it’s a transitional tooth between the canines and molars – which helps with tearing and grinding). Hell no! The ‘root canal solution’ would deal with the root of the problem, but was costly, risky (you sign an indemnity form) and cumbersome. I chose this last option because I will still keep my tooth!
Here are some few lessons that came to my mind as the amazing dental team worked on my tooth:
1. Identify The Problem – you can’t fix a problem you don’t know. What is revealed is healed. The dentist took an X-ray and concluded that there was a problem with the tooth; and the specific location of the problem. Certain problems require going deeper – only an X-ray will do.
2. Deal With Root of The Problem – after identifying the problem, the preferred solution was to go and clean up the ‘canals’. In layman terms it means killing the nerves and cleaning up all the bad stuff. This step alone took 2 visits, and I recall my proud dentist remarking that she had fixed all the 4 canals. What is exposed is closed. In life if you don’t deal with all the roots of a problem, you will always suffer from it!
3. Protect Your Vulnerabilities – a few days after my root canal procedure, I was having muesli for breakfast, and I felt something break – it was my tooth tissue. I called my dentist in panic and was told that my tooth was essentially dead and brittle and if not “protected” it would basically crumble. To avoid this I would need to have a crown fitted on top. This would protect my tooth. Aha! Life is pretty much the same – never expose your vulnerabilities – protect your points of weakness.
4. Your Flaws Must Not Floor You – I no longer have a perfect set of teeth because one tooth is basically now dead and protected by a crown. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth — to cover the tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. This means the tooth will be able to perform normal function like eating ‘chibage’. This is the biggest lesson – if a dead tooth can still function. If a broken tree can still produce fruit. If a broken crayon can still colour the same. So can you. Unless I told you I have a dead tooth, you would never know. Many of us walk broken too in ways many people may or may not know. God uses a lot of broken people to leak His grace to others. The unction to function oils us so we perform in spite of our brokenness. God’s grace is the crown that covers our brokenness like a dental crown covers a broken tooth!
Disclaimer: Any reference to medical and dentistry terms is based on my basic understanding. For any issues about your teeth, please get help from a professional dentist.