Small Adjustments

Three weeks ago, I went to the dentist for a check up. I had waited longer than usual for a number of reasons that I won’t elaborate on. Let’s just say, for the first time in a long time, I was dreading the appointment.
And rightly so. I was seeing a new dentist, and he took a whole battery of xrays, revealing all the nooks and crannies of my teeth. For the record, nooks and crannies are not things you want in your teeth because in the dentistry world they have a different name for those. Cavities.
I had four cavities, and since it worked out in the schedule, I had all four of them filled at the same time two days later.
It was horrible. Dentists always have a hard time getting me numb, so when I could still feel the drilling after seven, yes SEVEN, shots, in the mouth, I told him just to keep going. I ended up with my jaw unhinged for more than an hour, and when the anesthetic wore off, my mouth was sore. But I took some ibuprofen and didn’t think much of it.
Until the medicine wore off.
For the next several days I took the ibuprofen around the clock, the pain even waking me up at night. I had never had this experience of pain with fillings, but I just assumed it was taking a while for my mouth to recover.
Days turned into weeks, and the pain persisted. If I let the ibuprofen wear off, my jaw ached, every bite would cause me to shudder; hot, cold, sweet and salty were all painful.
Finally, I called the dentist.
As I sat in the chair nearly three weeks later, he said, “Oh, I wish you would have called sooner. We just need to adjust your bite.”
“Well, you told me that might happen when I left your office that day,” I said.
“And you didn’t believe us, did you?” the dentist joked as he poked purple paper in my mouth and told me to grind.
“I believed you; I just didn’t realize what I was feeling was the result of needing my bite adjusted,” I said, defending myself.
And so, with drill in hand, the dentist shaved off the teeniest, tiniest bit of dental composite, and within minutes the pain began to ease. I couldn’t even see the difference, but I could feel it with my tongue. And the stress on my jaw bone was reduced by the adjustment. My teeth have continued to ache a little over the next couple of days, but gradually, I am reducing my iboprofen intake.
Soon, I’ll be eating ice cream again without the help of NSAIDS.
Makes me wonder: what other tiny changes could I make in my life and experience such a big improvement?
Photo by by Shakespearesmonkey via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.


Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.

  • reply Lyla Lindquist ,

    Love this… I went a couple of years having those small adjustments made every 3-4 weeks. They finally found the cracked tooth causing all the pain and pulled it. I was never so happy to lose something… Hope this last adjustment took care of it!

    • reply Michelle DeRusha@Graceful ,

      Oh I love the metaphor here: tiny adjustments, big gains. You’ve got me thinking tonight, Charity!

      • reply Sue Awes ,

        Hey Charity – Some of your comments on this got cut off – was blogspot having troubles the past couple of days? Anyway – I loved this post. Many of your posts, including this one, read like parables to me – and I love this way of seeing something new. I usually feel like I have to tackle the big adjustments and consequently tackle nothing. Maybe I could try for just a small one?
        Thank you!!

        • reply Charity Singleton ,

          Sue – So great to see you! Thanks for your kind words. I see my own life as a parable, often. I think a close reading of our circumstances reveals a lot about God’s truth and will.

          • reply Sue Awes ,

            Charity – I adore how totally real you are. Your posts are so often parables to me – and I love that way of seeing things afresh. More often than not I think about the big adjustments I need to make, grow weary and do nothing at all. Small adjustments appeal.

            • reply Charity Singleton ,

              Ann — Unfortunately, I might need another tiny adjustment. The pain is better, but not gone. Oh, for the same motivation to make other life adjustments!

              • reply Charity Singleton ,

                Duane — I have wanted to cry so many times over the past three weeks. Tooth/jaw pain is in a category all its own.

                I LOVE your profile picture!

                • reply Charity Singleton ,

                  Cheryl – I think this idea of small adjustments is what your Saturday Simplicity posts are all about, huh? Paring things down, making the little changes that make a big difference.

                  • reply Ann Kroeker ,

                    What a story!

                    Just one little sliver ground off and your quality of life began to improve and the pain diminish.

                    Yes, it makes me wonder, too, what tiny adjustments might make a world of difference!

                    • reply Duane Scott ,

                      Oh, I’m so sorry! I don’t cry… ever. Even at funerals.

                      But because they can’t numb me either, I sat in a dentist chair with tears streaming down my face from the pain.

                      Tiny adjustments.

                      I like the thought!

                      • reply Cheryl Smith ,

                        You’ve got me thinking, too, Charity. Plenty of small adjustments needed here. Where to begin? 🙂

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