I went to the dentist tonight. I haaaaaate going to the dentist. And let me be clear… I don’t hate the dentist. My particular dentist hasn’t done anything wrong, and all the dentists at my dentists’ office are actually quite understanding and respectful of the sheer amount of anxiety I go in with.
I’m also understanding of the fact that I am being a mega baby, and that my reaction to even having my teeth cleaned must make the hygienist feel terrible. The wincing, the pulling away, the tears, the forgetting to breathe (yeah, that happened, the hygienist had to remind me to breathe)… you know… I can’t imagine they make her feel good about what she’s doing. She just wants my teeth and gums to be clean and healthy, and I’m really grateful for the benefits that cover that. It’s EXPENSIVE!
Please allow me to explain.
I’ve never really ENJOYED going to the dentist… I assumed it was a universal feeling. However, I’ve spoken to people who absolutely love it because they LOVE that clean teeth feeling.
I, however, guess I prefer dirty, built up teeth…. it’s my personal philosophy that if ovens can be self-cleaning, why can’t my mouth? (yes, I’m aware of how ridiculous that sounds)
When I was a kid, my Mom used to have to hold my hand through all dental procedures. Tonight, after going to the dentist for a cleaning, I called my Mom who lives 4 hours away… and asked her to come down in two weeks to hold my hand through a filling. She laughed at me…. probably for good reason.
I had a ROUGH experience with braces — 3 years of an abrasive, mean orthodontist who called me a baby when my gag reflex would kick in. Three years of her leaving wires too long in the back of my mouth, and then telling me to tough it out when I would go in with bloody, cut up, swollen cheeks. Those things, combined with many awful retainer fittings (I vomited on my orthodontist once… told her I was going to, she told me I was a baby and I needed to get over it), and a jaw condition where my jaw locks open, cracks, and gets very sore, have left me with some mega ‘dental anxiety.’
I had a cleaning this afternoon after work. It was painful! Letting someone dig tiny, sharp, metal hooks into my gums is not the way I want to spend any day. It was kind of a bizarre experience, though… my dentists’ office has started offering fresh popped popcorn in the waiting area while you wait to be called in for your appointment…. so the entire time I’m having my teeth cleaned, all I could smell was popcorn… and all I could taste was blood. Strange!
Long story short, because I don’t need to gripe about every single part of having my teeth cleaned… I have a cavity. I was really hoping to not have any, because the needle is the worst part about the experience.
Due to the level of anxiety experienced during the cleaning, both the hygienist and the dentist suggested that my next appointment be done with the aide of nitrous gas. I’m not sure how I feel about that… because I feel like there’s still going to be pain… but maybe there won’t be streaming tears? It’s the needle I can’t do…
Before I wrap this post up, I feel the need to express that I don’t typically get overly anxious about too many things. I mean, sure, I have a bit of anxiety over some things, but nothing like the dentist. There was a time when I had significant anxiety over pretty much anything that could go wrong. High school was rough. I literally made myself sick. Like… Mom took me to the doctor several times and the only thing multiple doctors and an ultrasound could come up with was “you need to chill out.”
Through much prayer, and much focused effort on ‘chilling out,’ I have gotten much better… but the pain from the dentist feels like it’s always going to make my heart race and cause me to forget to breathe laying in the chair.
What about you? Is there anyone out there who actually likes going to the dentist? Why? Is it the clean teeth feeling?
Anyone feel my pain on the dental anxiety? What do you do to conquer it?
Lastly… Has anyone had nitrous gas for their dental procedures? I think I’ll be trying it for my next cleaning. I may try to champ it without it for the filling in two weeks, though… the dentist said it’d take ten minutes without the gas, and twenty with it.