Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Today was my first of two dentist appointments this week. I've mentioned that my first appointment in eight years didn't go so well because of my general fear and loathing of dental offices, so I was nervous this morning from the moment I got up. And today was just my cleaning.

I have had three vaginal births - the first one with an epidural that only took on one side, the second with an epidural that took so long for the anesthesiologist to put in that by the time they laid me back down Sam's head was crowning, and the third with not so much as a Tylenol (my choice) because it was quite obvious that epidurals and I are not friends. Not once during any of those births did I scream, holler, bite, curse or anything like that. At one point during Kady's unmedicated birth I do remember hissing "OH JUST MAKE IT STOP BURNING!" but that's it. Not bragging, just stating a fact. I have had a kidney stone as well and while that one did make me writhe and cry and vomit quite a bit, I still didn't cause a big ruckus. What I'm getting at is this: I have a fairly high tolerance for pain.

But the dentist - she makes me cry. Most of the time before laying a hand on me.

Don't get me wrong, she's absolutely precious and sweet and looks like she's about twelve. She giggles with the patients and just seems like the kind of gal you could invite to your Tupperware party. She's soft-spoken and explains what she's doing as she goes along and I like really do like her. But I personally would not want to be in a profession where I am feared. The fact alone that she is a dentist makes me have nightmares about her. Usually the nightmares involve her arriving at my Tupperware party with a bloody scaler in one hand and that sucker thingy in the other, laughing manically and chasing me around the room.

I walked into the office this morning and greeted my hilarious hygienist and we exchanged the usual chit chat and I seemed all calm, cool and collected, but my insides were the consistency of oatmeal. She put the little paper bib on me, being careful to not catch my hair, she blah-blahed about the weather and I blah-blahed back. Then she left to go assist the dentist in pulling a tooth in the chair right next to me! The guy was trying to be brave, but you could tell he wanted to cry like a little girl. So did I. I was really regretting not bringing my MP3 player. I tried counting the holes in the ceiling tiles. I looked at all the St. Patrick's Day decorations and said the alphabet backwards 5 times, all the while listening to her calmly talk to him while she yanked out one of his teeth. Right then I vowed to carrying a toothbrush with me everywhere I go and brush 5 times a day for the rest of my life.

When the dentist finished the extraction next door, she and the hygienist came over to my little cubicle and tilted me back till I was all but standing on my head. I heard the hygienist rattling around above my head and I just about had a runaway because in my mind she was preparing to fill my cavities today and holy shit, I wasn't ready. I hadn't written my will, I hadn't told my husband I loved him that morning, I hadn't climbed Everest! No kidding, my heart was beating so fast I felt a panic attack coming on. Then the dentist, in her calming voice, patted my shoulder and said, "Okay, hon, today we're doing your cleaning" and even though I had been nervous all morning about it, those words were a verbal Xanax for me and I calmed right down, opened wide and let her cram both hands into my mouth.

I admit that I have been lacking in my dental responsibilities in the last eight years, but I had no idea that stuck to my teeth was the dental equivalent of sheetrock mud. She proceded to scrape and pillage my poor teeth and all I could do was blink rapidly in order to avoid being blinded by the hardened bits of concrete flying out of my mouth. I was so embarrassed and again reaffirmed my vow to brush five times a day for the rest of my life.

When she finished chipping away at eight years worth of hardened goop, she left me in the very capable hands of the hygienist who was going to polish and floss my teeth. She started the polishing with that little rubber cup full of wild cherry flavored sand-laden putty and then it started making a strange noise. She hastily jerked it out of my maw and said, "Well, I wonder what's wrong with this thing?" I said, "I'm no professional, but it sounds to me like the transmission's done gone outta that thing." She laughed and whacked it against her palm. It revved up again and she continued polishing away. She did tell me that my teeth were very pretty and white and asked if I knew what had caused the stains on the front teeth. I said, "Uhhhh....my addiction - sweet tea." She nodded and said, "So pretty much you're telling me that when you leave here you're going to go home, pour a glass and begin staining them up again, huh?" I had a whirling metal instrument in my mouth at that moment, but did grunt the affirmative. She laughed again and said, "No problem. That's what I'm here for."

When she started flossing my teeth said asked, "So do you ever have any trouble flossing your teeth?" Well, she had both hands in my mouth and a piece of floss between two molars so I just grunted. She said, "Wow, that's really tight! Did you say you have trouble flossing?" I said nothing. If I could've done that looking up and whistling bit like they do in the cartoons when they're trying to look innocent, I'd have done it. She stopped flossing and said, "Ah. So what you're saying by ignoring me is that you don't floss?" I gave her the thumbs up and she said, "And again, that's what I'm here for. To pick up the slack." Then she added, "But you really should floss, hon."

I'm not sure when I'll find time in my busy five-times-a-day brushing schedule to floss, but I'll have to try and work it in somewhere.


Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

I use these cute little floss picks while I'm watching TV, and it's a real OCD thing. Try it. You'll like it.

. said...

My husband says he read (on the internet, of course!) that you can just rinse with the antiplaque mouthwash and it does just as much good as the flossing. Not sure if it's true, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Might be worth it to google the idea and see if it really is true, huh?

RJ said...

The only way I have been able to conquer my fear of dentists is to go consistently (every 6 mo.) and I make them give me gas EVERY time. It really helps me relax..even for teeth cleanings. By going consistently, I have developed a total trust with my dentist...he is very good and we are now friends. I have been able to trust him to the point, that the one time they were out of gas...gasp, I did not jump from the chair, but let him continue filling the tooth. I did not die and he did not lose a finger. Going every 6 months, really does help. I am glad you survived the first visit and I know the second will go well too. Bring your MP3 for those scary sounds from the chair next door!

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