Why do I hate the dentist? No hate is too mild a word, I’m totally phobic.
It starts with making the appointment, takes me forever just to pick up the phone and ring, then the tossing and turning starts leading up to the appointment with a totally sleepless night the night before. Then arriving at the dentist in a state of total nerves, getting to the waiting room, freezing and when it’s eventually my turn having to be coaxed in and that’s only for a check-up! If anything further is needed I go through it all again but get an injection which puts me out for the count. I’ve been wondering why it has come to this and why it is only getting worse as I’m getting older, so thought I’d ponder my dental experiences over the years.
My very first memory is when I was very young, definitely before starting school, being horrified looking at my Dad with what I remember to be blood pouring out of his mouth – surely an exaggeration. He came from a rural farm where there was no thought put into dental care, back then, and, somewhere in my mind I have a recollection of him being also terrified of the dentist. Well on one visit, he was told he needed a couple of fillings and he was having none of that so elected to have all his teeth extracted and get fitted with dentures and that would be the end of that! He was only 34 years old or thereabouts.
Next memory is me aged 7 waking up totally hysterical during the night that there were little men living in my molars. I remember clearly my father trying to soothe me but there was no way I was closing my mouth because I was convinced that once I did I was killing some of these little people. It turned out that I had a raging fever and indeed spent a month in bed. Measles were rampant at the time and unfortunately I got them very badly but for some odd reason the spots didn’t appear for weeks, very serious dose I believe which almost led to me missing my First Holy Communion.
I can’t ever remember the tooth fairy appearing in our house so have no positive memory of losing teeth. My first visit to the dentist was when I was aged around 9 and I needed a filling. The dentist, for his own reasons, decided to pull the tooth instead! When I was in boarding school I had a dreadful toothache and the nuns sent me back to the same dentist expecting me to return with a filling, I returned minus another tooth. Strange dentist!
It was now getting to the stage that I was never going to attend a dentist again. I left school, started working and one of my colleagues told me of her great dentist who used laughing gas and would definitely put me at ease. Off I went, hmm. He checked my teeth, said I needed one on the top left filled and made an appointment for me to return. I did, oh boy what a mistake that was. I arrived at 8am terrified. In I went, the dentist was a total charmer who I felt wanted to be a Hollywood dentist. As he was going through my notes with me strapped into the chair, he referred to me by a different name and then began working on a tooth; I’ll call this tooth, Trouble, on the right hand side. I’d only gone and got a dentist who bloody well filled a tooth which was giving me no trouble at all and thought I was someone else. I still can’t believe it. When I got home later that day the tooth was aching a bit and continued to do so for a few days. I went back to see him again and he filed down the filling and more or less told me to get used to it. Remember this tooth had never given me a bit of bother. During the night I woke in absolute agony, I was down on my hands and knees from 2am washing the skirting boards, scrubbing the floors, tears of pain running down my face, trying to distract myself. First thing I rang his surgery; agh he was on holidays, so I then rang his emergency contact and took myself off to yet another dentist. It appeared I’d developed an abscess, what followed were antibiotics and root canal. The dentist started shouting at me at one stage that if I didn’t open my mouth he’d have no choice but to pull the tooth. He never realised how lucky he was that I didn’t clamp my teeth shut on his hand.
It was a few years before I got the guts to visit yet another dentist; this was a female in a large dental practice that my sister in law recommended. I went, not for a check-up but the tooth called Trouble was hurting. I needed a pinned filling. This lady was a lovely dentist but I was nowhere near going to biannual check-ups. She only saw me when I was in trouble with the tooth called Trouble.
A few years ago I was playing a golf match and on the 4th hole my opposition gave me a wine gum – yikes it broke the pinned filling and I continued the match with a pin sticking into the side of my face – I won and won early, anything to get off the course. I rang my husband’s nephew, he’s a dentist, and asked him what I would do. He said to physically try to bend the pin flat against my tooth and get to a dentist as soon as possible – it was Good Friday. So next working day, I’m on the phone again and my lady dentist can’t see me but someone else in the practice can.
I arrive; having gone through all the panic attacks you can imagine and am put into a different waiting area. The nurse calls me in and I’m rooted to the spot, rooted as in a physically cannot move, I try, but no, my limbs just will not move. She takes my hand, the dentist comes out and they both slowly coax me into his room. It’s Trouble again! Yet another pinned filling with the tears running down my face. As I leave he sends his nurse out after me. She says that whilst they are not allowed take patients from other dentists in the practice she wants me to know that this particular dentist offers full sedation.
Full sedation – as in he gives me an injection into my arm, I fall fast asleep, I’m collected from the dentist, return home to bed and sleep for hours. This to me is just what I need.
There have been more problems since but I am now at the stage that I can walk into the dentist, well for a check-up anyway, in the knowledge that if anything needs to be done I will return and get the sleep of my life.
As for the tooth called Trouble – it ended up being extracted 2 years ago but yet another dentist but one I was referred to by my own. It had very deep roots and he didn’t think he could do it without complications so this lovely dentist in Dalkey did it having first knocked me out, of course!
So, why am I so phobic of going to the dentist? Could be anyone of the above reasons, all I know is that if I hadn’t found the dentist I’m with now I would probably have gone down my father’s route and said get rid of them all.