This morning I visited the dentist to have my teeth cleaned, and was very thankful that my regular hygienist was there.

I have been fortunate to have the same dentist for the majority of my life. I still go back to my hometown twice a year for a cleaning and check-up. Dr. Pannell has been my dentist since I was in elementary school. I went to school with his children, and have trick-or-treated at his house - yes, he gave us tooth brushes.

Last fall, when I came in for a cleaning my normal hygienist, Joyce, was out for knee replacement surgery. The lady who substituted for her was not nearly as gentle. Joyce has been cleaning my teeth, and my family's teeth, for over 15 years. She always has a wonderful attitude, great smile and gentle touch when it comes to cleaning.

I actually look forward to having my teeth cleaned, because of Joyce. She tells me stories about her sweet grandson, Max, and how much he has grown. She always asks how my family is doing, and I leave with a clean and bright smile.

Six months ago, I left with a bad attitude and sore mouth. When I shared that sentiment with Joyce this morning, she laughed and said I was not the only patient who had missed her that day.

Although I spend the majority of my time with Joyce, the entire staff is kind and welcoming. They still laugh about the time in high school when my band director drove me to my appointment, because he did not want me to miss band rehearsal. Over the years, they've become like extended family. While I'm glad I have good dental health, it means that I don't get to see them very often.

It's a special relationship, and one I'm grateful to have fostered over time. Each time I leave with a healthy smile and great attitude, and today it made me wonder if everyone loves their dentist office as much as I do.