dental phobia

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Sometimes I like to think of my life as a giant game of snakes and ladders. No particular reason… but dentists definitely qualify as “snakes”, and they knock me back several squares every time.
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Last week, I went to the dentist for my 6 month check up and clean. She found a CAVITY. *shudder*
spelunkers
So I made an appointment for Wednesday this week, and went home feeling pretty ok.

Until yesterday morning… when the tooth in question started feeling like it was about to explode. Owie. Didn’t help that my recurrent sinus infection was playing up…
A quick discussion before she starts on whether I should have white or amalgam fillings, The amalgam ones last twice as long as the less visible kind, so I opt for the metal, and she numbs me up. (Oooh boy was I numb! The appointment was at 2, it took ’til 7pm before I could feel the left side of my face properly!)

Drill, drill, whirr, whirrrrr grrrrrRRRRRRRiiiiinnd, drill drilll…
“OH.” She says. “The hole has spread to the adjoining surface. We might as well do that one today too, hmmm?”
“Mmmwrffgggl”, says the quivering wreck of Caity. (Did I mention that I’m not good at Dentists? No?! Well, I’m NOT. I didn’t go to the dentists for FIFTEEN YEARS and then I had to go every fortnight for most of a year. Hence the now religious 6 monthly appointments.)

(My Canberra Dentist, the wonderful Jo Newton, used to sing the Dentist’s Song from Little Shop of Horrors to me. She also had the Larson cartoon below next to the chair. I’m not sure if dentistry requires a certain sense of black humour to begin with or if you develop one as a result of spending your days looking at people’s teeth!)

I blame my dental phobias on childhood dental trauma (doesn’t everyone?) Imagine, if you will, that it is 1972, in a small town in rural New South Wales, and wee Caity is 4 years old. And there’s a GREAT BIG HULKING DENTIST with smoke stained fingers (this was waaaaaaay before gloves, let alone the anti-smoking movement!) like swollen sausages, trying to shove his fingers in my mouth. Without my permission. And then pulling out my teeth, because my teeth were too big for my mouth.

Oh shut up, I do so TOO have a small mouth.

Not Actually Me, But You Get The Idea

Not Actually Me, But You Get The Idea

Then we skip through time (insert wavery dream sequence thingy here if you’re so inclined) to my early thirties, where my sins are starting to catch up with me. A series of root canals, another tooth pulled, (which is when I had my appointment times restricted to “Last of the day ONLY” so I didn’t scare off the other patients) and then The Big Mistake: getting my wisdom teeth out in the chair. If you ever have to get wisdom teeth out DO IT IN HOSPITAL. The Temperomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) problems from those 4 teeth lasted years. YEARS!!

Of course, I already had TMJ issues as a result of my first husband’s propensity to connect his fist rather solidly with my jaw whenever he got really drunk, and add the fact that I grind my teeth when I sleep … well, each visit to the dentist tends to leave me rather. bloody. miserable.
Farside

Finally I hear the best words possible: “You can Rinse out now”. YAY! I didn’t scream, not even once! (I also doubt I could recognise my dentist out of her rooms, sine I keep my eyes scrunched up for as much of the whole procedure as possible.) The Health Fund only paid about a third of the cost.

At least I didn’t grind my teeth last night – I know I didn’t because I didn’t sleep. My face still feels like I’ve been stomped on by a soccer player, and I’ve taken every combination of painkillers I’m allowed to have, up to and including Lindt 85% Cocoa chocolate. Think I’ll just head back to bed and moan some more for a while…