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.....