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Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is currently the VH1 “You Oughta Know” band, so its video for Paris (Ooh La La) is getting a lot of airplay. The song is ear-worm catchy, but what really sticks out for me about the video is Grace Potter’s teeth. They’re absolutely perfect. Shiny, shiny white, totally aligned, not a filling to be seen. Wow. Either Grace has been blessed with strong, healthy teeth, or she’s had access to good dental care all her life.

I went to the dentist this morning, so dental care is on my mind (although the idea for this post came to me last week because of that video). Our family actually goes to a traveling dental van because it was the only local dental care we could access for years. The town’s local dentists wouldn’t accept Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare when we were using those programs, so we had to travel over an hour away to be seen by a dentist. (Ask me how I feel about that.) When the dental van went into service a number of years ago, we started going there. Now that we have regular dental insurance (not the state plan), we refuse to go to local dentists because they refused to see us when we were poor(er).

Access to a dentist isn’t just about having one around; it’s also about being able to afford the services of one, everything from regular checkups to fillings to braces. We looked into getting braces for Eldest Son. His two top front teeth stuck out a little bit. We took him to an orthodontist, who said Eldest Son should wait a year or two because the teeth would likely move into position as he grew. They did and we didn’t have to purchase braces, which would have been a couple of thousand dollars.

Thankfully, I have a fairly even set of teeth, so I never needed braces. I can’t imagine my dad being able to afford them if I had needed them. I’m not sure we (my siblings and I) even had regular dental checkups because of the cost and I’m lucky I didn’t develop cavities until later in high school. (I was a diligent brusher.)

Because of my experiences with dental care (or, rather, lack of experiences), whenever I see a perfect set of chompers like Grace Potter’s, I think, That’s quite a privilege.

———

I had three cavities filled. The dentist gave me so much Novocaine that my face was numb up to my eyes. The numbness is leaving now. While I’m no longer drooling, the little needle pricks are starting to hurt and my jaw feels stiff. Time to stop thinking.

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