D is for the Dentist (Who Makes Me Neurotic)

Photo by Lynn Kelley ~ WANA Commons

Photo by Lynn Kelley ~ WANA Commons

My biggest fear (after plummeting to my death from great heights) is going to the dentist.

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

You know what I’m a pro at? Dental avoidance behavior. I’m a sad, pitiful case and the dental staff knows it.

I have no idea if they call everyone else TWICE to remind them of their appointments, but they do with me. And I’m pretty sure both my dentists (yes, I have two) and their staff hate to see my name on their roster because I’m so neurotic about the whole thing.

To be fair, I’m better than I used to be. They used to have to give me the gas just for a routine cleaning. Now I just need my iPod and my knitting to keep me distracted.

Here’s a timeline of my last dental appointment:

Tuesday afternoon: I get a call from the periodontist’s office to confirm my appointment for Wednesday at 8 am.

Me: 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.

Dental lady: But we called you last week to confirm…

Me: Don’t you know I banish you people from my memory? *sweating* I’ll call you back today if I can’t get it resolved.

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.**

** Remember the iPod and the knitting? Hubby 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.

I’ve gotten a lot better over the years…at least now I go. And both of my dentists are very nice men who speak to me like they would to a cornered animal. These smart guys know 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 (like my bizarre BFF)? Or, like me, do you despise going to the dentist? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!


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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43 Responses to D is for the Dentist (Who Makes Me Neurotic)

  1. After all this time we can hopefully assume your dentists are the good guys. You could always spend the first half hour wandering around the office making sure everyone has the appropriate credentials.


  2. jesstopper says:

    So brave of you to even face this post – it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up! The older I get, the less tolerable I am when it comes to the scraping, etc. I too have had the dreaded “pocket” check and lots of periodontal chair-time, including bone grafts in my late 20s. If I had to attempt it now in my 40s, I’d probably do major avoidance! (floss, floss, flossing in the meantime)

    I do have to say, I had a root canal once and it was the BEST thing ever. Seriously. I had been in so much pain prior, I thought I would die. Or get addicted to painkillers, not knowing what the heck was wrong. One root canal, magically no pain. See ya around A to Z and the WFWA!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Yep, I had those bone grafts at 13. SUCKITUDE. I hated them, and I was swollen like an egg from all the business they did in there. See that smile in the upper right of this blog? That thing took WORK. 🙂

      I’m delighted you only had one root canal. The pain of a bad tooth is incredible. It’s said that the potato doubled life expectancy in the modern world because it helped preserve peoples’ teeth. I can well believe it.

      Thanks for stopping in, Jess!!


  3. This was great. I share in this particular phobia, and the avoidance tactics. And I justify my avoidance with, “It’s so expensive!” Buuuut I just got dental benefits that have killer coverage and hubs made me an appointment to finish the root canal I started a year and a half ago. I kind of want to smother him while he is asleep.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Yeah, you might want to smother him. BUT, the more you go, the better it is if you’re a plaque-y beast like me. There’s less scraping and, best of all, no cavities or “extended activities” inside my mouth. They’re got to give me the gas or knock me out for those.


  4. Julie Glover says:

    I’ve actually written about my hatred of dental visits too! All of my senses are assaulted–what with the bad tastes, the creepy smells, the sound of scraping, etc. I’ve thought about taking my iPod, but didn’t have the guts to say, “Ignore me…while I ignore you!” You’ve given me courage. I am taking that sucker next time. Thanks!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Julie, TAKE THE iPOD! Trust me on this one. They’d rather you ignore them than be clutching the armrests in terror ( <–me, in my previous life).

      LOL…you'll feel much better. Before I learned to knit, I'd take a book just to touch it and calm myself.


  5. Laura Drake says:

    I got chills just from the photo…did you HAVE to show the picky-things? After a drunk dentist drilled into a nerve cavity when I was 13 (Novocaine? I don’t use no stinking Novocaine!) I leave puddles of sweat on their seats.

    I put it off SO long that I had to invest $20,000, hours of surgery (can you say cadaver bone? *shivers*,) and a photo of my sorry mouth is in a Korean dental text (so I’ve got THAT going for me!)

    Now I go, but just like you – they have to call me several times….
    Ugh, that reminds me, I have an appointment….
    Crap. Thanks for the reminder.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh my God!! I came out of my seat with kind of an “Eeeeeeee!” sound over the drunk dentist and the nerve cavity. *shaking off the willies*

      See, you and me? We’re soul sisters. Although I sweat less since I was adopted by my husband’s family dentist. I can’t shame my name in there…the whole family will know. Plus, now my goal is to keep Baby Girl from getting the same phobia.

      Of course, HER dentist is fun…and they get to watch movies on the ceiling. Why can’t we go to dentists like that?? Where they give us a balloon and a PRIZE. (I’m not bitter…)


  6. I’m totally terrified of the dentist. And here’s the irony. I have two brothers AND a brother-in-law who are dentists. Now having one’s brothers be dentists does not remove the fear, because they tortured me before they were dentists. BUT, my my b-i-l is very sweet and kind. And he’s glad I live far away and he doesn’t have to work on my wimpy self too often. LOL


  7. Sisyphus47 says:

    So sweet ~ I sympathise, though my own she-dentist is so charming… 😉


  8. amyshojai says:

    Oh my, you won’t believe this but I had such a fear of NEEDLES that I toughed out every cavity-drilling-nightmare without pain meds up until the point the orthodontist decreed 4 teeth must be pulled. Seriously, the needle was the worst thing about it.
    It’s on a par with airplane takeoffs and landings and TURBULANCE. I have a chant that helps during the turbulance, in my head so my seat mates don’t panic and call security. What’s the magical chant? With eyes closed, knuckles gripping armrests, the chant goes, “It’s a bus it’s a bus it’s a bus it’s a BUS…!”
    Buses on rough roads don’t scare me. Bumps and whooshes and dive!dive!dive! out of thin air (as opposed to what? thick air?) scare the whey outta me.
    But I’m getting better about that. Gulp.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I would believe it since my own husband (and his father) did deep cleaning with no novacaine. (FREAKS!!) Their teeth truly don’t hurt AND they both hate the shots.

      I don’t blame you one little bit, Amy. And I adore your “bus chant.” I’ll be smiling all day over that one.


  9. I abhor the process, but I like the results. One bad experience – or three – has the unfortunate ability to initiate a lifetime of distrust for that dreaded “D.” I empathize. 🙂


  10. Sharla Rae says:

    I’m not really scared of the dentist but he started using some kind of ultra sonic thing to chip tartar off my teeth. It sounds like a drill and they have to spray water in the mouth the whole time — I think because it gets hot. “That” is scary. I twitch a lot and I must make faces, because he or she constantly asks if I’m really okay. 🙂


  11. K.B. Owen says:

    Oh, Jenny, you poor thing! I would be like that, too, with gum guys. I may be getting to that point. *shudder*

    Even while I was sympathizing with you, I kept wondering: “how does she KNIT while in the dentist’s chair?”

    ‘Cause that’s just how I roll.


    P.S. – Your hubby is a keeper. 😉


  12. Dawn says:

    Oh, Jenny! Sorry, but I’m not one who fears the dentist – well, that is not NOW. When I was younger (as in under 28)? Heck, yeah, I avoided him at all costs. Don’t know what changed – perhaps a desire to NEVER EVER have another root canal – but I’m pretty timely with my appointments these days….


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m very, very impressed Dawn. It seems like all my 6 year molars had issues. It was a crappy year for me, but dang, that seems like harsh punishment. I’ve had FOUR root canals (five if we count the one that failed) and I’d be happy to never have another.


  13. tomwisk says:

    Had the same feelings after I went through a dentist, his uncle, a dentist (the original), his father (after the uncle retired). The dentist was just out of school and was trying his (probably) first root canal. He wasn’t too successful. The bar manager at the restaurant I worked at hooked me up with his father in law, an who had an established practice. The FIL introduced me to sodium pentothal and nitrous oxide. I had a friend for life.


  14. Fellow reformed dentist avoider here. It’s funny, I wrote about the same thing in my D post. And having experienced both a she-dentist and a he-dentist I think they all come from the same school. My dentist has all these distraction devices in his surgery and sometimes it’s a case of TMI. Like really, I don’t need to see the highlight reel of mouth cam’s adventures. But I now go in for the 6 monthly sprint for sake of not having to endure any more dental chair marathons.


  15. I hear ya, Jenny! I felt the same way when I first started seeing a periodentist 25 years ago. Funny thing is, the hygienist who does the dirty work has become a good friend and I actually look forward to going. We laugh through most of the appointment. Bizarre, I know.


  16. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Dang, great post, Jenny. Five oral surgeries and $50,000 and I’d have a phobia, too. No fun. I could only stomach a few of the comments. No Novacaine? Eek. I don’t like dental checkups or dental work, but I’ve been pretty fortunate so far. Never had a root canal, knock on wood.

    Like you, I’m supposed to go in every 3 months for the deep cleaning, but even with insurance, the copayment is expensive, so I might cheat and only go in every 6 months. And last time I kept getting a tickle in my throat while he was doing the cleaning, which made me cough. It was embarrassing. And hard to hold back the coughing until he paused! Oh, love that photo! Glad it came in handy.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh my Lord, a *tickle*?? So you were clearing your throat like the whole time they had poky things in your mouth. Your POOR thing!

      Yes, these comments are “hang it all out” dental fare. But some of ’em are damn funny. You should go take a browse when you’re feeling braver. 🙂


  17. I hate dentists. I hate the smell, I hate the sound, and even taking my kids to their appointments always makes me a little sick (and I know my blood pressure goes up no matter what – or who – I’m there for). My problem is that I don’t get numb like most people. The last tooth I had to have pulled I wound up getting something like 7 shots, and then the dentist finally had to cut the tooth in half to get a needle directly into the nerve. Absolutely none of that was fun when the only thing numb on me was my cheek, lip, and tongue. Pretty much the same thing happened with my last C-section. Shouldn’t be able to pull your legs out of the strap with an epidural, but I did. At least then they believed me when I said…I know the difference between pressure and pain…and this is pain.

    Needless to say, the only doctor I like is my eye doctor. 🙂

    Hmm. I also hate heights. Maybe I should have my dental work done really high off the ground. Passing out would be almost as good as laughing gas.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That is the most dreadful thing ever, to not have the shots work. i cannot imagine!

      I don’t love the eye doctor, but I don’t hate them like I hate the dentist. And in terms of heights, I am more afraid of plummeting to my death than I am of the dentist. 🙂


      • You’d like my eye doctor. First he’s really nice…and second, he’d kind of sexy. So win/win for me…except when I remember my mother telling me she used to wonder what her eye doctor would do if she kissed him when he was right up in her face (she had a crush on hers, too…must run in the family). And then I wonder the same thing…and then I have trouble not laughing. Maybe not so win/win. 🙂

        And yes…heights totally suck. I almost couldn’t watch Man on a Ledge. Yes, even when the heights are in movies, I feel light headed.


  18. Yikes, dentists are scary. I can’t believe your BFF actually enjoy going to them. I steered away for years until I got pregnant. Since kids I’ve neglected flossing and now I have three visits scheduled. *gulp* I’ll have to remember the iPod trick. It will cover the awful noise of drilling.


  19. filbio says:

    OMG – 5 oral surgeries and $50K in dental bills? OUCH!

    Hope your teeth are much better now. I used to also hate the dentist but I found a great one a few years back and she is terrific. Soft to the touch and very comforting. A good dentist is like finding gold!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      The majority of that dental work was before I even turned 20, Phil. I think that’s why it all makes me so damn nervous. The first major surgery was when I was 13.

      Good dentists ARE gold. And I do like mine now. But, well…they’re DENTISTS!


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