I am the World’s Worst Dental Patient. I wish I could blame a dentist for that, but I held the title long before my 4-hour root canal a year and a half ago. I don’t really know how I got to be that way–probably my orthodontist. He had the most awful breath, and he was kinda blind, so he got up close and personal when he was hurting you. I also didn’t grow up having my teeth cleaned regularly; my first time was right before I had my braces put on in 8th grade, and my second time was right after I got my braces off five years later. So in my twenties when I decided I should be more proactive about my dental health, I quickly decided that was a bad idea, because I realized my teeth are just too sensitive for dental hygienists. Even for my friend Patti, who was my first semi-regular hygienist and was wonderful. By the time I was in my late twenties, I dreaded going to the dentist. To illustrate how infrequently I go, I have to get x-rays (which they take every two years) every single time I go in for a cleaning.
And then a year and a half ago, my fear of the dentist cranked up to eleven. My dental insurance was going to end the last day of July, so around the 25th or 26th, I went in. Now, I didn’t go in voluntarily–Frank had the dentist’s office call me to make an appointment. It had been three or four years since I’d been (some people avoid the doctor, I avoid the dentist). And since it’d been so long, I had five cavities and needed a root canal. That day, I had two cavities filled. Two days later, I had another two cavities filled, got Rickrolled in the dentist’s chair, and had the root canal, which, I will repeat, is so much worse than childbirth. Childbirth is like getting a massage compared to a root canal. The fifth cavity has never been filled.
Now. Frank has this thing about drinking water. It’s boring, and he hates it. He drinks black coffee, and he drinks anything sweet–soda, juice, whatever. As long as it has a non-water flavor. I’ve been on him about drinking water for years. He also doesn’t exercise much. He did for a while, but as soon as the baby came and our schedule got all wacky, he stopped, understandably.
So a couple of weeks ago, Frank went to the dentist. While he was checking out, the subject of me came up. He once again asked the office lady to call me. He told me that night that he had done that, but since she hadn’t called that afternoon, I hoped she had forgotten. Then Monday morning he went and got one of his cavities filled. I was sitting in bed in the morning, feeding Buttercup, and my phone rang. It was the dentist’s office. When the woman told me she had forgotten to call last week, but that Frank had just left and she told him again that she would call me, I just responded, “He is in so much trouble.”
Now I have an appointment for next week. She assured me that there will be numbing and nitrous and that they’ll be gentle with me. She also noted that the hygienist who worked on me before “was very good, but she moved to Texas, but we have some other hygienists here who are also very good.” I said, “Oh good. The hygienist who worked on me last time tried to tell me I didn’t feel pain when I did.”
Anyway, Frank came home at lunch that day. I told him I had an appointment with the dentist. He was soooo happy. “Yeah, sorry I have to make you go, but you have to take care of yourself… for your family.”
Oh. He’s gonna regret he said that. Because I looked at him with my angry face and said, “Fine. Then YOU have to take care of YOURself for your family. You have to start drinking water. And exercising.” I think he was surprised that I was as upset about it as I was. He agreed to do it. And I’ve been on him ever since.
This evening he was playing with Buttercup and asked if I’d go fill his water bottle for him. I looked at him. “What???”
“Well, if I don’t drink it, you’ll have an excuse to not go to the dentist.”
“That’s right. 64 ounces a day, dude. And after this appointment, you have to keep drinking your water if you want me to go back in six months.”
Because I’ll be watching. And if he misses one day of drinking his water… well, I’ll happily miss one day at the dentist.