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The Dentist Thing - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
The Dentist Thing
It's all psychological, you know. I'm not afraid of pain, I'm just afraid of dentists. I don't mind how I feel afterwards, if I'm sore or achy or whatever -- it's just the physical act of having my mouth worked on that freaks me out. And I'm generally numb during that part, so I don't feel anything anyway!

Hearing people talk about dental procedures they've undergone makes me cringe. The very smell of a dentist office makes me queasy. The sound of scraping, or a drill, makes me want to whimper. I don't know why, but I just don't like it. Like I said: it's not rational. I guess it really is a phobia.

I am embarrassed that I have this fear -- aren't I the girl who can do anything? I'm supposed to be tough! Or something like that. So I try to pretend it's not there. Stoically and silently put up with whatever procedure I am enduring. But in my head, I'm crying and begging for mercy. The entire time I'm in that chair, my hands are clasped so tightly that the knuckles turn white. The joints of my fingers are always sore the next day.

My dental insurance keeps changing, so I've gone through a gaggle of dentists in the past 10 or 15 years. Each time I need to switch dentists, I put it off. It's generally a couple years before I force myself to find a new one. I know my teeth require regular preventative maintenance... like hannunvaakuna always says, "If you ignore your teeth they'll go away." But it's hard picking a new one, and you never know what you'll get!

Like the one with the mean hygienist who actually laughed at me when the dentist's drill slipped off my tooth and drilled a hole in my tongue. My mouth was too numb to feel anything until a couple hours later, but I tasted the blood. "Hahaha! We got you," she said cheerfully.

My next dentist effort was at an office that looked like it hadn't had any renovations since the early 70's. I was deathly afraid of their finding a cavity, because he didn't inspire confidence: I didn't trust the guy not to mangle my teeth. It's no wonder that I accidentally missed my second appointment at that office. I was relieved when my insurance changed once again.

Naturally I waited a year after my insurance changed to start feeling guilty (not to mention slightly toothachy) and search for a new dentist. I asked around a bit, and found a recommendation who took my new insurance. I procrastinated and delayed a few months more, then I finally dragged myself into her office for a checkup.

It really wasn't all that bad. She had some funky ultrasoundy tool or something for the cleaning, instead of the tooth-scraping claw I'm used to. This made it go quicker, although it sounded a little like a drill, freaking me out. I was mentally unhappy, but physically it was pretty okay. She has a small practice, and she does all of the work herself. She doesn't have a hygienist do the cleaning, which was kind of cool. I got to know her a lot better than some dentists, who just sweep in for a 90 second introduction right before the receptionist gives you your toothbrush and sends you on your way.

Unfortunately the x-rays revealed a cavity. Actually two. Ack! She convinced me to have them filled separately, since they are on opposite sides of my mouth. A couple of days ago, I had the first one done. The easy one, she said.

All afternoon I was my usual miserable upset-stomached self, dreading the evening's appointment. She numbed me up very thoroughly though, and I mostly didn't feel any pain. In reality it was not at all terrible... the problem is just that I mentally freak out the entire time I'm there.

The only thing I don't like about her is that she doesn't use nitrous oxide. Or valium or anything. Heck, I'd even take ether -- or a sledgehammer of forgetfullness! *grin* I know I don't need it, but it'd be nice to have something to take my mind off what's happening. To feel less stressed and a little less unhappy.

So I dunno. I'm supposed to go through this again in a couple of weeks, with the harder one. Harder! I'm already stressing. This dentist is friendly and gentle, I like her "hands-on" approach, and my newly filled tooth feels okay. Plus she is no longer a stranger, which is helpful.

But it's still scary going there. I'm debating whether to see her again for this second filling, or look for another dentist who is freer with the drugs. itsmika recommended somebody she likes. I just checked, and she even takes my insurance! Decisions, decisions. Maybe I'll just cancel my appointment and think about it for awhile. But I can't wait too long, because I do like my teeth where they are.....
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nishar From: nishar Date: November 20th, 2004 11:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I would go back to that gal. She sounds like she knows all the updated ways to work on teeth and you already feel comfortable around her.
bjorng From: bjorng Date: November 20th, 2004 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like you'd be hard-pressed to find a better dentist than that one. The personal touch is valuable, even from a creepy weirdo that likes reaching into your mouth.

I know lots of people who have that same phobia. I've never had it myself, despite several bad experiences with individual dentists. That's one of the things I don't relish doing -- finding myself an adequate dentist. I'll have to do it sometime early in the new year.
From: caneprints Date: November 21st, 2004 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh how I can so relate to your dentist phobia! I was unlucky enough to have horrible teeth despite brushing and flossing regularly over the years. I think it's a genetic thing because everybody in my family has bad teeth. It amazes me that, with all our modern technology, we still don't know how to adequately control pain, not just dental treatment pain, but pain in general. I usually don't advocate prescription sharing, but I would say if your dentist isn't going to provide you with Valium, you could perhaps get just one from someone else for your procedure.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 22nd, 2004 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
hmm...I should check my spam! There are usually lots of drug offers there.... ;-)
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: November 22nd, 2004 10:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Try wearing earplugs to deaden the sound.

Nitrous is nice but not manditory.

The novacaine is mandatory.
pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: November 22nd, 2004 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Despite my earlier blase comment about dentist, I understand what you're saying.

I've got this thing about having my blood drawn. I've got a good excuse for it, but that doesn't make it any easier.

The Good Excuse:
When I was like three or four this woman came by our house, doing some kind of county health thing. She took a sample of my blood.

Of course, she wasn't very *good* at taking blood samples, so she ended up digging around in my little arm trying to find the vein.

I screamed my head off the whole time. My mother just sat there and let this woman dig at my arm. Now, that's my little inner 4-year-old talking. I understand now why she let the woman do what she did. Hell, at the time my mother was probably all of 25 herself, and not one to stand up to authority. (She got over that in later years.)

Anyway, it's one of my earliest memories. Ah, the joys of trauma.

So, many years later when I got my first real job out of college, I had to get my blood drawn again. I was going to be working with arsenic, so they had to get a baseline of how much arsenic I already had in me before I started work.

They tried both elbows, and the back of both hands. You see, the thing is, when you get freaked out, your veins contract. Probably a good thing, since it limits how much you can bleed out if you're seriously injured. But it's counterproductive when they're trying to get a blood sample.

They eventually called in the nurse from the emergancy helicopter crew. Apparently she was the Queen of the Nurses. And sure enough she eventually got enough blood out of me.

In retrospect I realized what an incredible ass I had been. I had really been a pain for the poor folks at the hospital, and why? Because I was letting my inner 4-year-old take charge.

So, I've really worked on staying in control when I get blood drawn. I still occassionally freak out a little, and have to go drink some water or something to give me a chance to calm myself down.

But I've gotten to where I can fill up all those little vaccu-tubes they want.

My point being, it's okay to be unreasonably freaked about something. But I wouldn't look into drugs or any of that. You don't need them. If a wimp such as myself can take having a needle stuck in my vein, you can handle the odd dental procedure.

Speaking of which, have you been using your Reach Access? That will reduce the amount of scraping you get.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 22nd, 2004 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's such a bummer about your needle experience. Not a nice thing to happen to a kid. Good that you've found ways to overcome it though! Needles don't bother me. Just dentists.

Yeah, I can put up with dental procedures. I have this far, after all. I just don't like 'em, so it'd be nice if I could somehow make them easier. But you're right about the drugs. Mostly that was just me fantacizing.

Yes, I got my Reach thingy a few weeks ago! I've been using it, though perhaps not daily. It's pretty cool.
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