As I write this, my wife and I are flying somewhere over France on our way back to the United States. We are returning from what has become known as a “babymoon,” one last trip before the first child comes. For years Kelly has been telling me that she wants to travel to Europe with me, so for our babymoon, we spent 3 days in London, and 5 days in Paris (two cities that neither of us have traveled to before). When thinking about these two cities there are several landmarks that immediately come to mind. For London, we think of the Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, among others. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre (and it’s most famous work of the Mona Lisa), and Notre Dame cathedral are all synonymous with the city of Paris.
Let’s talk about expectations a little bit. When I hear a name like “Big Ben” I immediately think of something imposing, huge, larger than life. Much like “Big” Ben Rothlisberger, the 6’5”, 200 and something pound quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. All of my life I envisioned what Big Ben would look like. I had seen pictures and movies with Big Ben. It was built in my mind before I had even seen it, therefore I had an expectation of what Big Ben was going to look like in person. This all came shattering down when I saw it. Don’t take this the wrong way, it is big, especially for a clock, but both Kelly and I saw it and were slightly disappointed and thus Big Ben did not meet our expectations.
On the other hand, the extraordinary cathedral of Westminster Abbey far exceeded our expectations. Obviously, the place where William and Kate (the Duke an Duchess of Cambridge) were married is expected to be grandiose, but the Abbey blew us away. We could have spent hours strolling through this centuries-old church simply looking at the famous people that had been buried there (Sir Isaac Newton, Frederic Handel, and former Kings and Queens of England, to name a few). This is not even mentioning the amazing architecture of the building itself.
And then there was the “Chunnel” to Paris. You would think that taking a train under the English Channel would be pretty cool, right? Wrong. It was a dark 20-minute journey that was completely forgettable. Expectation not met.
In Paris, we had been told by many people not to miss the Louvre museum because of its outstanding collection of art spanning centuries. If there is one painting that the Louvre possesses that just about every person knows, it is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. I don’t know anybody that has not seen pictures of this painting, the famous woman with that mysterious smirk on her face painted a loooong time ago. Kelly and I got some advice to hit up the Louvre at night, before it closes in order to avoid long lines. This was an amazing tip because we walked right in (there can be lines that are hours long to get in, and see the major works) and walked right up to Mr. Da Vinici’s masterpiece. What we were not prepared for was the size of the painting. We both expected it to be bigger than it actually was. No picture of the painting had ever conveyed the scale of the work itself. Again, don’t take this the wrong way, the painting is amazing, but it did not meet our expectation as to the size.
On the other hand, we traveled to the Chateau of Versailles, a complex built by King Louis XIV as a palace for the royal family. There is nothing in this world that I have ever seen that embodies opulence more than the complex at Versailles. I think that before the construction of this palatial home gold was not considered a precious metal, nor marble an expensive stone, but because of the sheer quantities of these materials used during the construction the world’s supply was depleted! In addition, the gardens at Versailles contained dozens of fountains that are powered by water pressure created from rerouting a river, not something you see every day. Versailles, by all stretches of the imagination, blew past our expectations.
You may be reading this and thinking: what the heck does this have to do with orthodontics? Well, we all have expectations. As patients/parents, you have the expectations that you will have a beautiful smile at the end of treatment. Maybe you have expectations that you will have appointments that start on time, and do not run long, or that we will treat you as we would treat our own family members. These expectations are perfectly normal, and justified, ones. At TDR, we work very hard to make sure that your expectations are not only met, but exceeded (like Versailles and Westminster Abbey, among many other things, did for us). However, there is another side of expectations, and those are expectations that we have of our patients. We expect every patient of ours to do their part to make sure their treatment is successful. You see, we cannot do it alone. Brushing must be excellent, not only to keep the teeth clean and beautiful, but also to make sure the tooth movement is as efficient as possible. Rubber bands, if they are required, must be worn as we prescribe, or the teeth will not move in the manner, or speed, in which we expect them to. When treatment is completed and we ask patients to wear their retainers for a specific amount of time it is not because we want to torture you, but because we want your teeth to stay straight forever, no doubt an expectation of going through treatment. Orthodontic treatment is very much a collaboration between us and you, and this collaboration works best when everybody does their part. When one side slacks off a bit, the product suffers, and this can lead to expectations not being met.