Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Odontophobia...

So, this is a nice two-part, manic depressive post. In the first part I tell you all about the gripping fear I have of visiting that most common of human fears, the dentist's chair. But don't you worry, because I'm hoping the second part will be a fun roller coaster ride of hilarity.

They say (they, meaning wikipedia, the source of all internet research of mine) that odontophobia in severe cases is typically brought about by traumatic dental experiences that lead someone to develop a fear that makes them avoid the dentist at all costs. I guess I have that in my history. I wish I could seriously post a pic of how screwed up my teeth were circa 1988. I had a constant stream of dental, orthodontic, and surgical appointments to give myself a big old pretty smile. It started out ok and I loved my orthodontist, but somewhere between getting my braces off at 17 and becoming an adult who had to figure out how to PAY for my dentist check-ups I just...stopped going.

And then I got really scared, remembering the shame and admonishment I felt when the dentist told me I didn't floss enough or brush enough or visit often enough. So then it became a fear of just-what-the-hell-will-they-say-when-I-tell-them-it's-been-seven-years kind of anxiety.

But finally, things clicked into place. I was going to get married, I had insurance, and I wanted to look good for my husband. I found an ad for a brand new one-man dental practice that not only specialized in high-fear, sedation dentistry, but also had a coupon for a free teeth whitening treatment. When I called to make the appointment, my palms were sweaty and I was already breathing heavy. I nearly passed out when the receptionist said "oh, well, most people don't need sedation just for a cleaning and exam".

I couldn't have felt like a bigger freak of nature. I was literally crying on the phone. When she told me there were options and that they could certainly help me out, I at least made the appointment.

I was 10 minutes early and sat hyperventilating and crying in the office, with the poor receptionist watching me with pity eyes. (I wish I were exaggerating, but my heart literally speeds up and I have a physiological reaction to seeing the dentist) I was almost ready to bolt when the next words out of her mouth were a balm to my beating heart.

Nitrous. Oxide.

My life has never been the same. I now see the dentist at least once yearly, and if I remembered to make the appointments and he weren't nearly 40 minutes away, I'd go every 6 months. I'm no longer scared of the dentist. At least not mine.

And now, I'd love to share my stream of consciousness (what I can remember of it) from being happily sedated during my dental appointment today.Please, try to keep up...

"Is this lady ever going to stop talking? I don't care where her daughter works. Say Yes to the Dress is on...I hope it's Katiekate's episode. I've been trying to catch it. Damn, this mask is blocking the TV. What's he saying about North Carolina brides? I feel kind of like I'm on a tilt-a-whirl at the fair. Falling backwards. I'm going to crash...just kidding...there's my head again. Whooooooooooo. Wow, I'm gripping this chair pretty tight. Strange, because I'm super relaxed. Katiekate...hmmm...maybe that's her sister there. Oh well, I can't really see it. Hey, these chair arms feel weird...I must be making a face, because she keeps telling me sorry and 'you're doing great'. It feels like she's using a super duper high powered water pic to clean my teeth. But I'm pretty sure they just scrape them, unless they have some really high-tech stuff at this office. I'm never trying another dentist again. Wait, did she just say uh-oh? What if that's blood spurting out of my mouth instead of just water. OK, calm down. That's not blood. Or if it is, I don't care, because I'm falling again. Breathe deeper. Am I grimacing? She thinks this hurts me. I wonder if they're rougher on people with nitrous because they know we don't really care? Hmmm...I could never do this without laughing gas. I MUST remember Katiekate. I should write this down as soon as I get in the car. I don't have a pen. Maybe I'll ask if I can take one. Is that weird? Who cares. I wonder if this is what ether feels like. Cider House Rules was really not the best of John Irving's books, not by a long shot. "Not...at...all" as Jacob says. They really do call this laughing gas. I wish this lasted longer. I think she's almost done. I bet I'm the only high fear dental patient to ever wish my cleaning didn't end. Oh, did he say Outer Banks beach wedding? It's pretty indisputable that North Carolina is the best state ever. Damn. She's almost done. One more deep breath, one more ride on the tilt-a-whirl and....

And she switched me back to oxygen.

I'm counting down to March for my next appointment, with glee.

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