Deeply rooted, part 1

I went to the dentist two weeks ago.

Have I ever told y’all about my intense tooth-doctor fear? Oh yes. I am the world’s biggest baby at the dentist, and there is no binkie big enough to calm me down. Well, maybe if you dip it in whiskey like a good mom. Okay, fine, just give me the bottle, and maybe I’ll make it through.


I went in for a cleaning and to be chided for never flossing, and that appointment lasted three hours. Let me repeat, in case you missed it: I cannot deal with going to the dentist, and I was there for three hours, and that was the first of oh, about four appointments. I nearly weep just thinking about it.

I am not ashamed to tell you that I had not been to the dentist in four years, and the only reason I went now is because Frank made me. No, really. He went to them Monday for a cleaning, because our dental insurance was running out at the end of the week, and we might as well take advantage in the very last week of coverage. While he was there, he had lots of time for telling the dental staff about my cowardice, because the power went out in the entire building (I can vouch, because I worked in the same building). So Frank’s mouth was numbed up (they went ahead and did his filling while he was there since the insurance was running out), and the power was out, and they couldn’t do anything with his mouth, so they went and got him Starbucks coffee (he sent me a cellphone picture), and he asked them if they could get me in that week. Unacceptable behavior, yes, and he is sleeping in Rowdi’s dog crate forevermore. So they called me to make an appointment. As my bad luck would have it, I was able to get in the next day.

I have the most sensitive teeth in the Pacific Northwest and possibly all of the United States, and that is no exaggeration. The hygienist was only able to make it through the first half of my cleaning. And while she was scraping tartar and I was feeling every scrape and cringing in pain, she was saying, “I’m still on the tartar, so you shouldn’t feel that.” Um, yeah, well I do.

Oh, but let me back up. I haven’t had x-rays in four years, so it was clearly time. The x-rays themselves took close to an hour due to my shiny, strong gag reflex; at least we know it works, right? And the hygienist didn’t think to numb the back of my throat until halfway through. So there was a lot of gagging. And pain.

As I said, the hygienist got through the first half of my cleaning, and then it was time for me to see the dentist. I moved over to his chair and got to listen to her tell the doctor that my teeth are very sensitive. “I think some of it is the anticipation, but some of it is sensitivity.” Um, I’m right here. You should at least wait until I’m gone before you start telling the doctor that it’s all in my head.

He looked over all my x-rays and was concerned about two of my teeth, which looked like they had infections under the teeth. He put some dry ice or something on the tip of several teeth, one at a time, with the direction that I signal him when I could feel the cold. Well, considering that my teeth are incredibly sensitive to cold, most of the time he didn’t even have the cold on my tooth for more than a second before I was yelling at him, or signaling, you really couldn’t tell much difference between the two. When he touched the cold hell to one of the possibly infected teeth, I told him in certain terms and motions that I could feel that. And then he touched the other tooth. And touched it. And touched it. And finally said, “You can’t feel that?” “Nope.” So he tried again for a while and then sighed. “That’s not good.” “What? What does it mean?” “That tooth is dead.”

It’s a little disconcerting to hear the doctor say that your tooth is dead. A part of you has died, literally, and it is never coming back. It made me feel old and mortal and cling to my vampire stories a little more closely. I’m currently looking into being vamped and considering, for the first time ever, zombiehood.

After telling me my tooth is dead, the dentist told me about the rest of my teeth. Two cavities on the top, one on the bottom, two additional gumline cavities on the bottom, and one tooth requiring a root canal. And then he said, “So we need to do a little work, but everything looks good, you have great teeth!” Um, dude, you just told me I need five fillings and a root canal, and I have great teeth? I guess since most of them still do their primary job of chewing food, he wanted to accentuate the positive.

Since I was already there, and he had time, and I was on my last week of insurance, he went ahead and filled two cavities right then. The nitrous made me giggle, I didn’t have much pain the rest of the day, and I was okay. But my root canal was scheduled for two days later on Thursday.

To be continued…

16 Responses to Deeply rooted, part 1

  1. You might look for someone who practices sedation dentistry. After years of dental phobia, I finally heard an advertisement for a practitioner. His staff never, ever criticized me for the condition of my teeth or my fear. This was something he promised in his ads, and he kept the promise.

    For the night before my appointments, he prescribes a Valium to help me sleep. Then he has me take two more 90 minutes before I go in. The appointments are set up for about 3 hours of work, so he gets a lot done each trip. And I literally snoozed through most of it each time.

    Your insurance won’t cover the extra sedation, probably. And, you have to have someone chauffeur you to the office and back. But, for me, it’s made a remarkable difference in my attitude and I thank God I finally got the courage to call the guy. Wish I had found him years ago.

    My wife’s more courageous, I hate to admit,and uses her regular dentist for most work. But she used my dentist for an extraction and said if she ever has to have another she’ll call him.

  2. lottiedottie

    Yikes! I have my first appointment in 2 years scheduled for Thursday. Ideally, they will tell me that my teeth are in perfect condition and, not only do I never have to come back, but they would like to pay ME for coming in! And then I’ll go out for ice cream afterwards.

  3. Dead teeth? Could be worse… they could be zombie teeth, and eat your brains while you’re sleeping.

    There are different levels of sedation, also. I had four severely impacted wisdom teeth pulled with just nitrous; never felt any pain and was able to drive myself home.

  4. I feel your pain!! I haven’t been to the dentist in 4 years either, and they ALWAYS yell at me about flossing. Its so funny you said that… I thought I was the only adult who purposefully skirted the dentist for that long. My teeth are also ridiculously sensitive to cold, so I started using sensodyne. If you haven’t tried it, you should give it a shot. Its helped a lot.

    I think I officially just lost my stalker cred. Dang.

  5. Sharky, that sounds delightful. I really did like this dentist, and I’ll tell you more about why when I get to the root canal. But he should help a sista out and sedate me for sure.

    lottie, I hope that’s how it works out for you!

    fargus, true! Or vampire teeth, which are sensitive to cold forever.

    brandylu, oh no! It hurts to lose stuff, especially stalker cred. But at least you get full-on commenter cred! w00t!

    I used to do the sensitive-teeth toothpaste thing, but that never seemed to help me. Maybe I’ll give it another go.

  6. ouch. now I see why you avoid the dentist.

  7. I am yet another big fan of Sedation Dentistry!! I once went 10 years without seeing a dentist. Now, I go every 6 months like a good girl. Much less scraping and nasty stuff if you go regularly. Really!!

    And the sedation is wonderful! I have very little memory of my prior visits. I wish I’d done this years ago!! My teeth are in much better shape and I might actually get to keep them as I get older!!

  8. Oh, man. The two days of anticipation probably felt awful.

  9. /I’m currently looking into being vamped and considering, for the first time ever, zombiehood./

    Hahahahaha. Yes. I think this is the way to go.

    Poor sarahk. Owie. It’s awful.

  10. tracey, it’s always the brain consumption that’s kept me from zombiehood, but that can’t be as bad as a root canal.

    Kate, I actually went into it thinking it wouldn’t be as bad as it was, so I didn’t anticipate much.

    Ellinor, this sedation thing sounds better and better.

  11. I can so totally relate. I HATE the dentist! I avoid going, which of course make things worse. My excuse was no dental insurance. Of course I have some now, so that excuse doesn’t cut it any more. I also have the bad gag reflex and a relatively small mouth which makes the whole process rather uncomfortable. Plus I need a root canal that I put off for months.

    This is giving me cold sweats….I don’t want to talk about it any more.

  12. where is part DOS?

  13. pammy, I’m sorry I gave you cold sweats!

    ma, soon. really busy last week and early part of this week.

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