I dislike having dental work; so much so that I haven’t had an appointment in 16 years. Admittedly, I did try about halfway through, I think. I called to make an appointment, may have actually set it, but there were a lot of tears involved and I didn’t go. I know that every time I’ve given serious thought to going in for any work at all I’ve had lovely panic attack-like episodes.
Three weeks ago, though, I lost a bit of tooth. I didn’t realize it until last week, when I found the edge on a tooth that shouldn’t have had one. And that sent me into a new sort of panic. My mom has had root canals before, and they never go well, always getting infected. Surely a hole in a tooth is the next step to one of those!
Pain from the dentist, or pain from not the dentist…
I called the dentist.
Well, I had to find a new one, as my last one is a 2,000+ mile commute. Searching for “sedation dentistry” on Google and then comparing to my insurance, I found someone. It was pretty awesome, actually, because I didn’t have to call a single person. No pre-call anxiety, just a web form, an email, a text, and bam. Appointment made.
Fast-forward from last Wednesday to today, and I actually went to the appointment. My poor kids suffered from my nerves this morning when they got in a fight and I wasn’t prepared to put up with any crap, but I reigned it in for the receptionist. I’m sure everyone was lovely. There were a lot of smiles, just not mine.
I don’t remember ever sitting so stiffly in a waiting room. I’ve learned I can grit my teeth without my top jaw touching my bottom one. I felt guilty for smiling at Kelly and Michael (a show I think I’d rather enjoy–those two are funny!) but did anyway. A little. Then I stopped. (Guilt.)
They finally called me in. I didn’t get any guilt from the hygienist, just an awful lot of x-rays. Last time I went in, you sat still and the x-ray machine moved–one shot. This time there were 18 different pictures and a whole lot of sharp things I had to bite down on. Still, x-rays don’t bother me. Sharp pointy things in my teeth with dentists that don’t believe my protestations of pain, on the other hand, bothers me.
The dentist, a lovely man about my parent’s age, finally arrived. I got to watch lots of HGTV during my wait, so I honestly didn’t mind. The part where I laid back and he went in with the pointy thing and the mirror was the worst. I kept expecting him to poke at things, to test the fillings (as dentists have done), but three cheers–no poking! He even complimented my current fillings, saying he puts in 100-year fillings, and mine look just like ones he would have put in. Um…yay? But then he lowered the boom.
All five of them.
There are four places that need filling, one of them that’s almost down to the nerve. Thank goodness I floss, apparently, because it could have been much worse after 16 years. I think I started that habit after a previously attempted appointment, under the assumption that if I couldn’t get to the dentist, at least I was going to do my best to take care of things myself. I got the guilt trip that the hygienist left out from him as well. Don’t think I can go another 16 years without an appointment just because I was so lucky this time, all my teeth could have fallen out at my age, blah, blah, blah.*
When I could finally get a word in edgewise I pointed out that the reason I didn’t go back was the aforementioned distrust of people working on my teeth not believing my pain levels. He was very reassuring, politely ignoring the tears that finally came, confessing a similar sensitivity. Since I’ve told him, they’ll give me additional numbing meds, and let me sit as long as I want until I’m as numb as I want.
Then, and this is my favorite part, I asked (still sobbing) that if there was anything we could do to reduce my anxiety of the actual appointment. And that was the million-dollar question. I left my appointment with reassurances and an Rx for Valium to take before the appointment.
Oh, and two more appointments. Three fillings on Thursday, one and a cleaning two weeks later. I’ve got a ride lined up to get me to the appointment, and fingers crossed that the Rx work as promised.
I’ve got to say, I am almost kind of happy I finally have the appointment. I’m definitely glad I’ve been flossing as much as I have, and I’m even more hopeful about my kid’s dental habits. (Overall, they’re pretty good. I think we need to work on technique, but the twice a day plus floss habit is there.)
That’s not to say that I’m looking forward to Thursday. I’m looking forward to Thursday being over. But I have plenty of time to worry about that tomorrow.
*Yes, I am over-dramatizing. But there was rotting teeth in the conversation with people in their 30’s.