My theory that dentists are underrated stems from the negative reaction that most people have when they need to go in for a visit. Unlike everyone else I know who despises going to the dentist and absolutely dread their 6-month cleaning, I actually look forward to going through all that scraping if it means having a clean mouth afterward. I know how weird this sounds, but nothing beats the feeling of having an anti-cavity, plaque-less mouth.
The best part of being a pre-dental student is that I find myself naturally curious about the entirety of this field. Every time I go in for an appointment, I have my dentist show me the pictures he takes of my teeth with his fancy tooth camera as we inspect every crevice together as a team. I appreciate that he is aware of my interest and makes it a point to teach me something new each time. He even gets carried away sometimes and falls into an in-depth lecture on the anatomy of a tooth, where I eventually have to stop him as I struggle to keep up. But I feel like I learned something anyway.
I feel like dental health, in general, is pretty much overlooked. Now we all know those people who brush twice a day and floss every night and then follow up with a mouth wash (guilty for all of the above), but there are also those people who skip flossing on some days and just finger-brush their teeth with toothpaste and call it a day. I don't entirely blame the people who do the latter because dental hygiene isn't something everyone is entirely aware of- or rather the seriousness of it. In fact, when I was younger I didn't even realize how important it is to brush properly and every day until I shadowed an oral surgeon a few years ago. I would see all kinds of people from various age groups come into the dentist and some people had amazing teeth whereas others would be oblivious as to how unclean their teeth actually were. This is where dentists come in to save the day in order to prevent further damage or any damage at all. Hardened plaque can turn into to gum disease or cavities, both of which can lead to something even more serious if not taken care of. Trust me, don't skip floss day just as you wouldn't skip leg day.
Apart from the hygiene aspect of dentistry, let's not forget about the orthodontists who are responsible for that awkward braces phase of your middle school years. Of course, you thank them later because thanks to those clunky pieces of metal, you now have a beautiful and straight smile that you confidently flash in every high school yearbook or pictures of a night out with your friends. Fortunately, Instagram never has to see your brace face ever again.
Smiles are a big aspect of daily life whether it is for a show of gratitude to the stranger who holds the door open for you or a goofy reminder to your friends that you love them. Without dentists, the world would be a place with fewer smiles and more mouth diseases. They are the heroes who wear crowns, not capes.