My gums have always been the bane of my existence. No matter how much I flossed or tried to practice sound hygiene, my gums were a wreck.
Dentists have told me that some people have a genetic propensity to build plaque and must go though repeated painful visits to the hygienist–and even that doesn’t always help. Not very encouraging.
Things got worse when I moved to Boston.
My first hygienist in Boston (we’ll call her Nancy) was a short, older, woman who had no tolerance for me and my gums. Every time I showed up, she'd sigh and make other sounds of disappointment. She even went so far as to tell me that my passion for health and wellness did not seem to correlate to my gums.
After numerous visits and criticism, I asked her to show me how to floss. Perhaps my technique could be better?
She showed me and sure enough the next time I showed up, my gums had improved.
How did Nancy react?
She somberly acknowledged that there was “some improvement” but continued to harp on the awful state of my gums.
That was when I knew that I needed to ditch this woman and go with someone else.
My new hygienist was a complete 180 from Negative Nancy. She was all smiles and noted that if I kept at it, my gums would improve. Perhaps it was her positivity that subconsciously motivated me to work hard and become more diligent with my flossing routine.
Three months later, I went back to her and my gums were worlds better. I was ecstatic, she was ecstatic, and instead of harping on the past, she noted that my gums were in fact healthy and it would become easier and easier to care for them going forward.
I am no psychologist, but I'm clearly one of those people who responds well to positive feedback and reinforcement.
What’s the moral of the story?
Finding a healthcare practitioner can be like dating: Don’t waste time with someone who's not a good match for you.
There is surely someone out there who aligns with your personality and can be your cheerleader to good health. (If, of course, you want a cheerleader.)