Seriously – who would ever prefer to go to the dentist over a normal doctor? Or any kind of specialist? Or any other medical-related anybody? If you’re sitting there thinking you would – WHYYYY? Think about it – NO other professional’s tools are more suited for torture than dentists’, with the drills and the sucky tubes and everything else that goes whirrrrrr or gsshhhhhhhhhh.
Apparently I waited a whole year between cleanings instead of going in every six months. Oops. But at this point the only thing I can do about it is go in now. So that’s exactly what I did.
I went between errands, by myself, like an adult (anyone who doesn’t understand why going to the dentist alone is a major accomplishment has never been to the dentist or isn’t real). I signed myself in, chit-chatted with the receptionist, and then patiently fed and bred virtual farm animals on my cell phone until the hygienist came for me. She was new, so we politely made small talk about my school, major, and the miscellaneous pieces of chips or popcorn I was sure I had stuck under my gums (one of my gums? a specific point in my gums? gum? There’s no way to win with this sentence).
Since it had been a whole year she wanted to take some x-rays to see if anything’s noticeably changed and whatever. She pulls this giant laser-gun-looking contraption and puts it right up next to my face. She then proceeds to lay this heavy, lead apron over my torso. I know it’s to block the radiation, but I just had to ask…
“So if this apron thing is needed to block damage via radiation… what about my brain?”
She responded with “Oh, that’s to block the radiation to your major organs. But the radiation just scatters around the room anyways.”
…GREAT. So not only is my brain definitely completely exposed to direct and residual/scattered radiation, but my internal organs are also still at risk for radiation regardless of this giant lead apron! Cool. I felt totally safe at ease. And then she has me bite on this giant plastic square with a wire hanging out of my mouth to the computer and the corners are cutting into my gum (gums?) and roof of my mouth. Of course, she ends up having to move it several times, causing further discomfort. She then decided it would be a good idea to ask about my family and details of my major with this square of pain in my mouth. I just thought, she has to be kidding me… But nope.
Finally the dangerous laser ray of death was put away and she went about poking around my mouth. I know from experience that if they stick their pokey stick into your tooth and it sticks when they pull it out, it means there’s a cavity. And that’s what happened today. I attempted to make a noise as similar to “uh oh” as I could, and she said “yeahhhh, uh oh…” and kept poking away. Ummmmm, okaycool. Aren’t you supposed to tell me what’s up and that I shouldn’t worry and it’s small and easily fixed? (hint: the answer is yes) When I had a moment to ask, I said “so is everything like, totally rotten?” Note my hyperbolic language, just begging for an encouraging and comforting response. Instead, what I got was, “no, not everything.”
At this point I began to panic a little. I assumed by her response that my teeth apparently had holes in them you can see through and were about to fall out of my face if I exhaled too hard. I began feeling my throat get tight. She says, “Do you drink a lot of pop?”
My heart skipped a beat. I stopped drinking soda 5 years ago! I thought, Seriously? My teeth look like some one who uses soda as mouthwash every day? Nooooo. I told her I never drink soda and she hmmmed. The panicking continued, as did the poking. (Just a little background information – I got my wisdom teeth taken out about 2 years ago and it was the most traumatizing experience of my life and only further conditioned me to be freaked when at the dentist.)
I began to cry (only a little) (but only because it was totally justified) (because I’m an adult) (and I totally didn’t want my mother to be with me and make everything better).
What made the crying worse is that I had my hands trapped in this lovely, warmed wax treatment contraption. Normally, this is the only good part about going to the dentist. You stick your hands in this hot wax, wrap them in plastic, then stick them in these awesome, heated pockets and at the end of the appointment, your hands feel ridiculously soft. Only today, I felt trapped and constrained. And embarrassed and helpless because there really wasn’t anything I could do when a teardrop slid from the sides of my eyes. After a minute she noticed and asked if I was okay and got me a tissue and dabbed at them herself, but it was weird. I tried to explain that I just didn’t like going to the dentist and that my wisdom tooth surgery was super traumatizing and all she did was hmm again.
At this point I was ready to change dentists completely. I wanted to be hypnotized or something so some one could force me to relax and I wouldn’t have to worry about making myself relax (only furthering my stress, especially when my attempts are unsuccessful – it’s a vicious cycle). Fortunately, when the actual dentist came in, he was lovely and calming and reassuring and sweet; He actually told me my teeth look great, any occlusions I had were minor and easily fixed and my teeth were even a good color. He did confirm that the occlusions looked like what comes when people drink pop, but assured me they weren’t a big deal.
I managed to keep myself together through talking with him and scheduling my cavity treatments with the receptionist, but once the office door shut behind me, the stress crying began. (Most of you know what I’m talking about – you’re fine; everything’s fine, but you were simply under so much stress that your body just makes you cry because of the hormones released from the fight-or-flight response that’s triggered from said stressor.) I called my mom to talk about it and hopefully calm down more, and she told me she had cried and wished she had some one with her during her own recent appointment. Moms rock. Did you know they’re real people? They’re human!
Naturally, to comfort myself, I picked up a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte with caramel drizzle in all of its syrupy, sweet goodness (topped with whipped clouds of creamy comfort). Seriously, I have no idea why my teeth would show signs similar to people who drink carbonated sugar water AKA soda.