Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dental cowards form an orderly line to the left

I have had a life-long fear of the dentist since I was a teenager, I think. I would break out in a cold sweat at the thought of visiting a dental office. Which is kind of ironic, because my mother is more fearful than I am. She wanted to be sure that her children wouldn't end up with the same phobia, so she worked hard to find a good dentist. And she did. Dr. Howard was an avuncular boisterous man, and I liked him. No worries, so far. My mother insists that I refused to get braces, but I don't remember it that way. Still, it was a good experience. I didn't mind having my teeth cleaned, and didn't have much fear. The problem came when I had to have my wisdom teeth out at 18. With a different dentist. I developed an allergy to the pain medication and wound up so sick I lost 14 lbs. in a week. I had a dry socket, which means the blood didn't clot and the nerve was exposed to air. I popped Tylenol like candy for a while. Until my dentist introduced me to clove oil, and instantaneous pain relief.

I did really well for a long time, going to the dentist when I needed to, maybe not getting regular cleanings, but does anyone? After my second child was born, I had to have a root canal. And the experience was as bad as I had imagined. The sensory nightmare of the shots, the drill, the cement, all of it, was enough to put me off dentists for a long time.

A few years back, I broke a tooth, and had to have another root canal. I didn't have a regular dentist at that point, so I went to what I term a "chop shop." I had a very intense panic attack outside the office that day. Still, I went through with it, mainly because I had incredible pain from an abscess and it had to be dealt with or I was going to jump off of a bridge. I ended up with an ill-fitting crown, that they redid twice. It was still never right.

Soon after that, we found an amazing dentist. His office is decorated in Craftsman style, warm woods, cool lights and just an aura of relaxation. Entering, I was still terrified, but intent on making sure my children have good dental care. I eased them into it, and would sit in the room with them as they received their treatments, constantly It served to help me be less skittish. had to have two teeth pulled by an oral surgeon, which was awful, and did nothing for my dental phobia. But I was convinced I needed to get over my fears, and I pushed myself to do so.

I needed a lot of work, but over time, it was all done. Now, I am in my last phase, and wearing Invisilign to straighten out my overbite and stop me from grinding my teeth at night. And I see the dentist monthly. My phobia is completely gone. I still don't like dental procedures, but I no longer cry. I am quite proud of my courage and sticktuitiveness.

My kids love the dentist, and see him regularly. This is a feat accomplished with kids who have autism. Dental fears are right up there as far as fears go. But the process of spending time with our dentist (who also goes to our church and works in the childrens' department with my kids) My youngest, JBean, went from terror to looking forward to seeing him. That's a testimony to a great dentist.

My dentist is worth his weight in gold. And that's about how much I pay him. I wouldn't have it any other way.

T, who is over it

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6 sent chocolate:

Anonymous said...

I'm terrified of the dentist. My husband is even more scared than I am, so my son has never been to the dentist. It's on my to-do list, with a goal to get him to one within three weeks. I don't understand why I'm even scared to take I think the dentist is going to tie me up and forcibly perform procedures on me? Hmmm...

routerguy said...

Who's the dentist? I share your phobia, but *really* need to see the dentist!

Tina@ SendChocolateNow said...

Anon: I read that dentists and spiders are the top fears for Americans. I can understand why. The majority of dentists really are quite good, though.

routerguy: I will DM you. ;oD


Tony Letts said...

I was wincing reading this - have been through the same she-bang. I have a good dentist now and if I find one I stick to them like a limpet

Smiling, Beguiling said...

Um, I love the dentist. Always have. And yeah, I totally get regular cleanings. In fact, if I could afford to have my teeth cleaned by my dentist every month, I totally would! Yup. I'm a nutter.

Just curious though, b/c I know a lot of people are afraid of dentists... why? What's to be afraid of? And no, I'm not mocking. Eg. I know why I'm terrified of bridges... and heights. Why does a dentist produce such abject terror?

Anyway, funny post T!

Tina@ SendChocolateNow said...

TonyL like a limpet, that's funny!

Smiling: Why afraid of the dentist? Where do I start? For me, it's a sensory nightmare. Also, if you have a dentist who isn't careful, he can cause you pain, which also isn't fun. Sitting helpless in the chair while this goes on is not a good way to spend time. The sound of the drill, the feel of the instruments, the cement used for casting crowns and such... just. ICK.

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