Why Going to the #Dentist Makes Me Neurotic

Photo from harishchavan.blogspot.com

Welcome to More Cowbell! Today is Thoughty Thursday when we examine whatever topic is kicking around in my brain for the week.

Since I started off my day at the periodontist, I’d have to say dental health is the topic at the top of my mind. My biggest fear (after plummeting to my death from great heights and homelessness) is going to the dentist.

After $50K in dental work (that included 5 oral surgeries), you’d think I would sail through these appointments like a pro. Not so much…

The dental avoidance behavior was in full force this week. I was a sad, pitiful case. Truly, my dentists probably hate to see me coming because I’m so neurotic about the whole thing.

The timeline went something like this:

Tuesday – 2 pm: As I was coming back from lunch I got a call from the periodontist’s office to confirm my appointment for Wednesday at 8 am.

My thoughts:

WTF?? I have a dentist appointment tomorrow?! And it’s with the gum people *blood pounds in head* – they’ll poke me with that metal death hook and check me for POCKETS.

To the dental lady: I’m having some babysitting issues right now. Let me check to be sure I have coverage tomorrow. I’ll call you back if I have to cancel.

I dialed my neighbor thinking: Please don’t be free, please don’t be free…

Of course she was free. And delighted to watch Baby Girl for an hour while I went to the Gum Sadists.

I was feeling kind of woozy by the time all the calls were over, so I ducked into Starbucks for some afternoon latte therapy. Then I called my husband.

Me: I have to go to the periodontist tomorrow!

Him: You go every three months. I don’t know why it’s always a surprise.

Me: Because I block it out! Why do I have to be such a plaque-y beast?? *dramatic sigh* Other people who LIKE the dentist don’t have to go that often.

Him: I thought you liked these guys.

Me: Get with the program, Honey! It doesn’t matter if they’re nice guys, they’re DENTISTS. They have scrape-y jobbers and sucky things. And DRILLS.

Him: Laughing. Sucky things?

Me: Honey!!!

Him:You’re getting a cleaning. They’re not going to use a drill.

Me: But it will be IN THE ROOM…

Him: I’m going back to work now. I’ll put out the iPod charger when I get home.**

** Because he knows there is no way I can last through a dentist appointment without some really loud music to drown out the scraping. No iPod means I start crying like a baby for the gas (nitrous oxide).

I’ve gotten a lot better over the years…at least now I go. (Every three freaking months!) And both of my dentists are very nice men who speak to me like they would to a cornered animal. (Smart guys.)

Oh, and this morning? Instead of getting all torture over with while I was there? The Gum Sadist told me I have to come back in a month for my “Three Year Evaluation.”

[He thinks I don’t remember the last one, and the things he did with that wicked metal cattle dental prod…  Oh, I remember all right. I’m like an elephant when it comes to oral health. My memory for dental torture is detailed and long.]

Do you have any phobias that turn you into a white-knuckled mess? Do you adore going to the dentist? Hate the dentist? Enquiring minds love  to know these sorts of things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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65 Responses to Why Going to the #Dentist Makes Me Neurotic

  1. I had a phobia that turned me into a white-knuckled mess, but it’s all gone now. Literally. All gone.

    Ewwwww factor alert!

    I had a problem with ingrown toenails. Big toes. Big, painful problem. I made and canceled podiatrist appointments from June until mid December. My deductible on my insurance had already been satisfied. It would cost me the equivalent of a new pair of shoes and bottle of good wine if I waited until the new year. Never mind that my tootsies would howl in my boots at the CW dance party I planned to attend. Cowboys hats, tight blue jeans, crisp shirts, and me on the sidelines nursing my feet while two-stepping music played? Nope. Couldn’t let that happen.

    So. I made the appointment with the podiatrist. I didn’t say “no” when a co-worker offered a Valium to calm my nerves. Mine was the podiatrist’s last appointment on the last working day of the year. When I arrived, he and the office staff sipped bubbly from plastic champagne glasses. I graciously accepted a glass and the Valium drip, and I read a magazine (upside down) while the tipsy podiatrist performed his surgical magic.

    I no longer have that white-knuckle fear. Why? Because the tipsy podiatrist killed the root of my toenails during the procedure. When will this open-toed shoe trend end?

    Hang tough, Jenny. I face the cavitron water-sword demon every three months, too. And, they don’t serve champagne or provide Valium drips.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ooooooh! I would love to have my toes forever fixed. Right now I go to Dr. Lori, the amazing pedicure lady once a month.🙂

      I’ll be dreaming about that Valium drip at the dentist…

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  2. gingercalem says:

    We might be twins separated at birth on this one. I could have written this post word for word, except I don’t have to go every 3 months. Poor you! {{HUGS}} I did recently cancel my 6 month check up, because, well, my schedule looked iffy. 😉

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL, Ginger. I got a deep cleaning a while back and it was Shuddersville. Ever since I’ve had to go every three months for cleaning. It kills me…every time.

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  3. Oh, I cannot stand going to the dentist. I am overdue for a cleaning, and I’ve scheduled it, so it promises to be a neurotic wait for me, too. Hugs to you, because I sympathize and empathize.

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  4. Oh my. After all the dental terror I’ve been though, it takes me two weeks just to get up the nerve to call to make an appointment for a cleaning. Because a cleaning leads to a check-up, and a check-up leads to a cavity, and a cavity leads to pain–oh the pain…

    I rant to my husband all the time because I’m fastidious about my teeth with flossing and brushing and anything else the dentist tells me to do. And I still get cavities. Do you think he gets cavities? Nope. Do you think he’s half as careful about his teeth? Nope. Do you think he feels sick to his stomach at the mere thought of going to the dentist? Nope.

    I feel much better knowing I’m not the only one who feels real and genuine terror at going to the dentist🙂 My dentist is a nice man too, and they all treat me with kids gloves out of fear of panicking me (because if they panic me, I faint–I wish I were kidding), but they’re still dentists.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh, Marcy…I so feel for you. Has anyone given you those between the teeth brushes that look like pipe cleaners? They made all the difference for me. Plus a WaterPik helps.

      Don’t you HATE people with perfect, easy teeth??!! I know he’s your hubby, but DANG. My husband has no dental trauma whatsoever. He’s an odd bird too.

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      • I’ve never tried the pipe cleaner brushes. I’ve have to test drive one🙂 Unfortunately, a water pick is a no-go. I’m also cursed with very sensitive teeth, and they hate electric toothbrushes and water pics.

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        • Jenny Hansen says:

          Yep, you use the pipe cleaner thing in between every tooth you can, particularly the back ones. It cuts down on lots of plaque, which should help with cavities and sensitivity. On the WaterPik front, have you ever tried it with warm water instead of cold? Amazingness.🙂

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  5. I have great teeth, but I hate – HATE – going to the dentist. One bad childhood experience ended it for me. I haven’t been to see one since before SweetZ was born!

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  6. LauraDrake says:

    Jenny,

    1. NO one loves the dentist (probably even his wife has a hard time sliding into bed with him, just in case he brought a pick with him.)
    2. Dental visits are higher up on my “Oh #%$ scale” than homelessness because you have a good chance of living through that. Dental work? Jury’s still out if I’ll survive.

    You and I are the same. Had $50,000 of dental work just BECAUSE I’d avoided for years. Now I make myself go, whining and sniveling the whole way.

    You’re right — to me, the dental pick is almost worse than the drill. The scraping is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Or chewing tin foil! Have you ever done that? When it hits a filling, it sends an electric shock….Oh, I can’t talk about it any more.

    I have shoulder spasms for two days afterward, from being so tight in the chair.
    Now I’m going to have to go check my calendar to see how much repreive I have before I have to go back —

    Ugh.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      My $50K mouth started when I was 10 (4 surgeries and three root canals by the time I finished college). Plus I had to have another one in my 30’s and the deep cleaning extravaganza.

      The saving grace for the dentist (and the reason why I haven’t had a screaming tantrum yet with this guy) is my pride. I go to the “family dentist” for my hubby’s family and I don’t want to shame them too much with my neurotic behavior.

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  7. Em says:

    I announce to any dentist that I open my mouth for that if they hurt me not only won’t I be back, but I will tell anyone who will listen. With the technology out there, there is no need to be hurt by them any more. That said, the tears begin the second I open my mouth until they tell me they are done. It doesn’t matter if its a cleaning or something more serious.

    I hate them too. (oh, I warn them that I’m going to cry because I also know it upsets them.)

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  8. {{hugs}} I’m right there with you. And the next time I go it’ll be worse a) because finding a NEW dentist, b) I know I have cavities that need attending to, c) I suffer from receding gums (have since my twenties), and d) plaque is probably going to result in a sore jaw! Just broke out in a cold sweat :shudder:

    @ Laura “Dental visits are higher up on my “Oh #%$ scale” than homelessness because you have a good chance of living through that. Dental work? Jury’s still out if I’ll survive.” — OMG you said it!!!!!

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  9. donnagalanti says:

    Oh, you made me laugh. I actually love going to the dentist. The lights are warm on my face and I doze away with a nice view to the woods. Is something wrong with me? (of course there has never been pain involved!)

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      “The lights are warm on my face…”?? Donna, I’m completely in awe! There’s nothing wrong with you – I’m just so impressed to hear someone say they love the dentist. That’s what i hope my daughter says many years from now.

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  10. Deep water—yipes! I floated for the first time in my late 20s.

    Thanks for sharing your dental drama! I’m sure most of us can relate. I finally like going to the dentist. Mine’s office is like a spa—massaging dentist chairs, TV, aromatherapy, the works.

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  11. You’re allowed to bring an iPod to the dentist? I’m in the I-need-how-much-work-done-and-you-think-I-should-ask-the-bank-for-a-loan boat. I’ve had full-blown panic attacks. It’s not pretty.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You can absolutely take an iPod to the dentist! I hope you do since you’re going to have to spend some time in “the chair.” Nothing wrong with popping half a Xanax before you go though.🙂

      Like

  12. Julie Glover says:

    Rather than answer here, I wrote this post some time ago because I HATE the dentist: http://julieglover.com/2011/04/25/monday-musings-dental-discomfort/

    Like

  13. hmcmullin says:

    I was like you for years – dreaded the dentist. Actually didn’t mind having cavities filled or other work as much because it meant they would numb everything. I’d have gladly traded drooling the rest of the day for no pain during cleaning, too, but it was always “oh, this won’t hurt a bit.” “Sure it won’t, it’s not your mouth.” Then I found a marvelous dentist who has gently but firmly nagged me into flossing daily and its made all the difference in the world. I’m still not fond of the semi-annual visits, but at least I don’t have to be duct taped to the chair any more and I’m proud to say I haven’t bitten this dentist – yet.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL…I’ve never actually bitten the dentist (though I’ve wanted to).

      I’m with Marcy: I floss, I brush, I do what I’m supposed to overall. But it wasn’t working until they gave me those little pipe cleaner-brush things that you use in between your teeth. That has made a world of difference with my gums. But I still hate going to the dentist.

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  14. Emma says:

    I hear you. I hate going to the dentist and it’s even worse when your dentist is cute. It’s hard to look attractive when your spitting and sputtering in his chair!

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      OMG! Your dentist is cute??? That SUCKS. So sorry for you. I had one cute one a while back but the rest are all grandfatherly or unattractive. It just works better that way.

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  15. I need valium for any dental work. So sad, right?

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  16. Catie Rhodes says:

    I hate the dentist. I take good care of my teeth, but I also clench my jaw because I’m always so nerved up. So I have cracked teeth and issues with stuff like that. I’ve thought about having my teeth pulled and getting dentures just to avoid further visits. My father–who has dentures–talked me out of this.

    It’s not even the pain issue. I am fairly impervious to pain. I love getting tattoos. I love the sound of the tattoo machine and the smell of green soap. I doze while I get tattoos.

    There is something about the dentist’s office, though, that makes me go into high alert. I think it’s the way it feels when they use the drill on my teeth. Or the way the hypodermic feels when it slides into my gum.

    Fun topic.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh my GOD, Catie! Cracked teeth from grinding??! We’ve gotta get you to some yoga girl.

      Dentures have their own brand of suckage to put up with – they’re all through my family, which is why I think my mama made such an investement in my teeth. And I can see why you write creepy – I completely got the willies reading the last big paragraph of your comment!

      p.s. I’m completely impressed that you sleep during tattoos (I am completely afraid of getting one of those).

      Like

  17. Rescue Remedy!! It’s a Bach flower essence that I learned about when we were bringing our preemie home from the hospital where she’d been for 84 days!! I was a flipping’ mess ’til I put a few drops under my tongue and voila, a calmness I didn’t even know existed w/in myself. Totally safe. Amazing. Use the cream on your kids – dab inside wrists and behind ears, ahhh! Ask at the health food store – they’ll know exactly what you’re looking for! My mom rivals your dental bills. It’s been a live long struggle. So I don’t know your pain, but I know someone who does!

    Like

  18. K.B. Owen says:

    Oh, Jenny, you poor thing. I haven’t had the breadth of experiences you’ve had, but I’ve had a couple of doozies – including several root canals (any dentist scene from Finding Nemo will give you a good idea), a “deep cleaning,” and an implant, which left a small portion of my lip permanently desensitized and has created a gum pocket that’s so tough to clean out that now I just found out I have a cavity in the side of the tooth next to the implant. Will need a crown; might need a root canal. We’re waiting over the next few weeks to see.

    Yowza!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Gah! You know, there’s a reason why life expectancy doubled with the advent of the potato. I KNOW we need our teeth and we’re lucky to live where dental care is fairly good. But why, oh why, does it have to be so torturous?

      (Desensitized lips and gum pockets, oh my!)

      Like

  19. tomwisk says:

    I’m scared of dentists. There, I’ve said it. I don’t feel better. Yesterday had to see the dentist to remove stitches. They were supposed to dissolve but apparantly my body doesn’t produce the chemical necessary to accomplish this. I showed up and found out my dentist wasn’t in and I’d be on standby. It took five minutes and I was halfway out of the chair when the dentist reminded me of an appointment in April. I got the same orders; no aspirin, salt water rinse and be on time. I forgot to ask if an increase in Vitamin K would aid in clotting and speed healing. So I’m here with an unanswered question and a case of growing anxiety. BTW they don’t have gas.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Tom, I don’t know if Vitamin K rich foods would speed up your healing but, as long as you don’t have a clotting disorder like me, they can’t hurt you. Leafy greens, cheddar cheese, oatmeal…what could be bad about that?🙂

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  20. Karen McFarland says:

    Yep, I’m a Bach flower girl too! Rescue Remedy is amazing stuff and safe! But then there are times when you need to pull the big guns out, and that means Xanax! I won’t even say how long it’s been since I’ve seen the dentist. You’re talking to a person who had a dentist pull her wisdom teeth out without being knocked out. I was awake for hours while he dug and pulled and cut and stitched. Oh God, it was horrible, but I lived in a small town with no oral surgeon. Scarred for life! I feel your pnic and pain Jenny!🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Holy cowbell, Karen…I’d be scarred for several lifetimes over a surgery like that! I was knocked out for all my young ones, and was in twilight for my two adult surgeries. I don’t know that even Xanax would be enough for what you’re describing. I think I’d have to pull out the REALLY big guns and beg for Valium.

      Like

  21. Oh my geezers this is terrible! You poor thing. $50K? That’s a freaking car!!

    My mom didn’t believe in oral care growing up ~ we only went when there was a problem. Hence a phobia as an adult. I found my dentist through a recommendation and not I don’t mind going at all. It’s taken the better part of 16 years for me to love him, but he’s a decent guy and makes me laugh. Which is really hard to do when you’ve got scraper things and metal jobbies in your mouth. Hmm, now that I think about it, I’ve got a cleaning in a week or so. Guess I should start flossing.

    Hugs to you! In fact, I’ll give you a giant hug tomorrow when I see you!

    Like

  22. S. J. Maylee says:

    I HATE the dentist, always will. The people there are very nice. I will NOT be deterred. I HATE going and it is all b/c of that pokey jabber thing. I just noticed I have my next appointment a week from Monday.😦

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  23. tomwisk says:

    Sorry to interupt the dental hijinks but the afternoon mail brought Cook’s Illustrated. A reader inquired about a non-gluten flour called C4C (cup for cup) They gave it good reviews and the have a website (probably C4C.com). Okay, that’s the good news, here’s the bad news; It’s distributed through Williams Sonoma and costs $19,95 for a three pound bag. Just sayin’.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I just heard about this flour and how amazing it bakes but JESUS, TWENTY BUCKS for 3 pounds of flour?? Yikes!

      My brother just told me King Arthur has a good gluten-free flour so I’ll be checking that one out next.🙂

      Like

      • tomwisk says:

        They’ve got a website Cup4Cup.com You could use it to cross-reference it for recipes. I know $20 a pound is as bad as $4.17 a gallon for gas.

        Like

  24. Jody Moller says:

    I haven’t been to the dentist for…ummmm….16 years!!! I know terrible. Don’t worry my mum gives me grief everytime I see her. I HATE the dentist. I had too many trips to the oral surgeon, orthodontist and dentist when I was a kid (I remember a particular extraction of a permanent tooth that the dentist ended up having to do while I could feel it because the anasthetic wouldn’t take, that may have had something to do with my phobia). Worst part is that I haven’t taken my kids to the dentist yet (daughter is 5 and really needs to go). Oops!!!!

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  25. Hmmm – no wonder suicide and depression stats are exceedingly high for dentists! Everyone hates them! I visit the perio every three months too, Jenny, so I hear ya … I go just to be on the safe side and, while I don’t like what they do, I love my hygienist! After twenty-some years we have the best gabfest when we get together … mostly garbled, throaty uh-huh’s coming from me. She also tells hilarious jokes and we sometimes have to shut the door. If she ever leaves it will definitely be a crisis …

    Like

  26. John Holton says:

    This was hilarious! I have a dentist appointment a week from Thursday, and you can bet I’ll be thinking about this.

    Like

  27. drimhof says:

    Ok Sis,
    You will laugh at me for this, but I am afraid of gas stations, or more specifically, gas station attendants. Here in Oregon it’s illegal to pump your own gas. Yes, yes you uber liberal politician ba£#^*&s it helps creat more jobs for people with no highschool deploma or a couple felonies but the creepiest people on the planet seem to work at the gas stations in my neighborhood. I practically turn into a whiny, sniffling paranoid mess when I think about having to drive to the gas station. Fortunately my Festiva gets 45 mpg so it only needs gas twice a month, unless I do some major driving out of town. And here is the worst part… I’ll avoid putting gas in it until my husband is driving it, notices my gas gage is drooping down below the E and then he puts gas in it for me, what a doll!! Later he will give me THE LOOK but won’t say a word, bless his pea-picking heart. Yep… I’m a little nuts, but I come by it honestly.

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  28. Pingback: I went there: Stupid sadistic dentist | Lidenskab // Passion

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  30. Priya says:

    I think when it comes to who’s the biggest coward.. I would win. OK, OK, fine I’ll share the shame. I’m currently struggling with my own dental. It’s getting worse by the day. It took my nine months to actually make an appointment. I’m getting closer to making the drilling/ scrape-y jobbers/ sucky things/ numbing appointment. Ahh so scared!

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