I have had a phobia for dentists since I was in primary school, mainly because of a traumatic encounter with Satan’s spawn passing off as a dental nurse. She actually threatened to impose a lifetime ban on my chocolate purchases and when I stared at her incredulously, she managed to convince me that such a thing was possible. I mean, who does that to a 7 year old child?
So anyway, 23 years on, I had the mother of all toothaches, and I was adamant on not seeing a dentist. As such, I adopted a variety of measures to stop the pain.
Day 1: Only chewing on the left side. I mean, if I stop using the above-mentioned tooth, it was bound to eventually forget it existed and stop hurting right?
Day 2: Consuming copious amounts of cold drinks/ice cream to numb the pain. This was a particularly enjoyable strategy.
Day 3: Blatantly ignoring the fact that my right cheek was starting to resemble that of a baby hippo. I even had people tactfully encouraging me to start on my wedding diet soon.
Day 4: Refusing to talk to anyone who actually had the audacity to advice me to see a dentist. Honestly, how dare they?
Day 5: Praying.
By day 6, I could barely speak and eat. So I finally mustered the courage to see a GP on Tamil New Year (The fact that it was new year is of no relevance. Just adding it in to sound more dramatic).
That’s right. A GP. My highly qualified, all knowing doctor friend (google) told me that my symptoms resembled that of someone with a infected tooth and that GPs could prescribe antibiotics to heal the infection. So I headed over to my family doctor during my break, and managed to somehow convince him that I would eventually see the dentist, got my medicines from him and headed back to school to administer a test to one of my classes.
During the test, I realized that more and more students were staring at me with a perplexed expression on their faces. But because this is their default look during tests, I disregarded it. Soon, they started to look horrified and while I was in the midst of feeling pleased with myself for setting a paper that could strike such fear in the hearts of students, a girl beckoned me over and pointed to my eyes. I checked my reflection in my handphone and I looked like a golf ball had lodged itself under my eye.
I waited it out till the end of the test, and rushed back to the GP. While I was waiting for the clinic to open for the afternoon shift, I realized that they actually had a dental clinic on the second floor. It took me 20 whole mins and a steady stream of constant muttering to assure myself, before I actually BRAVELY went in to the dental clinic (When my mom heard this she was convinced that the allergic reaction to the antibiotics was God’s way of making sure I ended up in the dental clinic that day. I think it was God’s way of punishing me for being stupid).
My dentist was this young chap who kinda reminded me of Sheldon, which was quite reassuring, until he asked me to lie on the chair and open my mouth. I still remember the petrified look on that poor child’s face when I burst into tears.
So apparently,the GOOD news was that my tooth could be saved. The bad news was that I needed a root canal treatment, which shockingly, isn’t as fun as the name suggests. It was also going to cost me $2k. Talk about literally putting your money where your mouth is. Or maybe not literally, but you get my point.
So as I am typing this, I have survived 3 rounds of treatment at a specialist Endodontic clinic, and am waiting to go back to my Sheldon look-a-like for crowning. So here are a few tips for all you people who are terrified of dentists, to survive a visit.
1) Never, ever, look at what the dentist is putting into your mouth. I almost fainted the first time I snuck a peek at the needle that was headed towards my mouth.
2) If possible, plug in to music. The sound of my tooth being drilled was enough to make me want to run away. I only restrained myself because if I had moved, the drill would have probably gone right down my throat.
3) Tell the dentist exactly how terrified you are. I didn’t really have to say much, because I looked so scared that both my dentists thought I was about to have a seizure. But honestly, I think it helps because they are more reassuring and perhaps gentler when they know how scared you really are.
So there, the story of my tooth (only slightly dramatized), immortalized on my blog so that in the future, when my children inherit the same, illogical fear of dentists, I can tell them the story of their brave mommy. 😉