Photo of kid holding a tooth
Photo copyright ©1998 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

Change can be painful. So can maintaining the status quo.

Do you still have your wisdom teeth? I still have mine. Every dentist I have been to as an adult has suggested that I have them removed. “Why? They’re perfectly good teeth.”, I would ask them. “Because it’s hard for us to clean back there.”, was always the answer. In other words, they wanted me to have my wisdom teeth removed for their benefit, not mine.

My standard response to their pleas has always been, “I’ll have my wisdom teeth removed when they are more of a problem for me than for you.”

Guess what? We’re there. As I type this, I am in immense pain from an issue with my wisdom teeth. I am slated to go see my dentist later today and I can’t wait. I am ready to say, “Yank those suckers out of there! Whatever! Just make the pain stop. Please!”

Why have I put this off for so long? Let me tell you a little story.

Like many people, I had braces as a kid. Unlike most people, my orthodontist created a plan to make room for my wisdom teeth to come in rather than set the expectation of having them removed later. To do this, he removed 4 teeth in the front portion of my mouth and moved everything forward. These were my eyeteeth on top and corresponding teeth on the bottom. That sounds strange looking back, but it made sense at the time. One of the eyeteeth was impacted and needed to come out anyway.

The result of this procedure 40 years ago is that I still have my wisdom teeth. The process of having those other 4 teeth removed and years of orthodontia to close the gap to make room for the wisdom teeth to come in was such an ordeal, I have been stubborn about any suggestion to have those wisdom teeth removed. Plus, they haven’t bothered me before.

To have my wisdom teeth removed would be to suggest it was a mistake to have gone about this in the way it was done originally. Admit a mistake? Not me!

Where in your life or career are you making this same kind of choice? Where are you resisting making a change because to do so would feel like you are admitting to a mistake? Where are you resisting a change because of how much effort you put forth to get to where you are right now? Is someone you know suggesting you make a change and you resist because that change is more for their benefit than yours?

Which is more painful, staying in your current situation or making a change?

For most of us, the pain of continuing the current behavior exceeds the pain we anticipate encountering in making the change.

The reality is, having the dental procedure I did when I was a kid was the right choice AT THAT TIME. The choices you have made that have you in the situation you are in right now were likely the right choices AT THAT TIME.

Each day we need to revisit the situation and decide whether staying where we are is still the right choice AT THIS TIME.

For me, that means more dental work, as soon as possible. I am ready to make that change. What does it mean for you? What’s your pain level? Is it time to make a change?