A while ago I went to the dentist. I have a decent fear of the dentist for a few of reasons: a) it smells funny in there b) people always complain about the horrific things that take place c) you’re forced to look at someone else’s nose hairs (even if it’s a momentary, horrified glance) d) why do dentists have so many nose hairs?! and, e) most importantly, my parents didn’t really take me to the dentist, so I never had the opportunity for it to become normal and natural. Lack of exposure to neutral experiences + active imagination = irrational fear and avoidance of epic proportions. (Note from the Don’t Eff Your Kids Up Foundation: take your kid to the freaking dentist.)
So, now I have to pick between my fear of smells/nose hairs/pain/people fishing around in my mouth, and my fear of developing some kind of mouth abscess, which spreads infection to my jaw, which eventually spreads to my brain, which would then give me meningitis and I would die—of tooth decay. I would MUCH rather die battling a porpoise. (You know you would, too. I mean, seriously. Would you rather have your tombstone read, “The dummy couldn’t figure out flossing,” or “Her mastery of porpoise-battle taught us all the meaning of courage”? I think if we’re honest, we’re all aiming for the latter. )
But, alas, the last time I went to the dentist (*cough* over a year ago), they said I should probably get a few spots filled “as soon as possible.” Which all humans interpret as “about a year from now, after you quit hyperventilating about it.” Right? (Thanks for backing me up on this one, guys.)
So, we saved up some money after our tax return, and I put it in an envelope designated for tooth-fixery. And then my husband lost his job for a while, so I decided I needed to wait until we were a little more stable before blowing a bunch of money on keeping teeth in my head. And then after he got his job again I got afraid of the dentist some more, so I avoided it, only really seriously considering it whenever I got the ol’ fear-o-meningitis.
Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to start making lists of things to do for the day. I would typically put 2-3 things on the list, because then I could do them ALL in one day, and feel like the Hillary Clinton of mundane life responsibilities. This is how I tricked myself into calling the dentist and making an appointment like an adult.
And then came the dicey part, when I actually had to go to the dentist and have razors jammed in my gums. (Or whatever they do at the dentist. See above re: lack of exposure.)
In the days leading up to my visit, I crafted this speech to give to my new dentist:
Dear Dentist [note: this is a weird way to start a speech, seeing as I'm looking right at him, not scribbling this with a quill],
I’m slightly terrified of you and everything in here. But I’m more terrified that I will have a cavity, the cavity will get bigger and bigger, then the large cavity will get bacteria in it, which will lead to an infection, and that infection will lead to meningitis, which will lead to my untimely death.
Also, I’m aware that I have a couple of cavities already, but I need you to act like whatever you find is no big deal. Like, just act like it’s all going to be okay, because maybe then I’ll keep coming to the dentist, and then I won’t die in the street.
So, to recap: my life or death is entirely dependent on your reaction to whatever tooth-related situation I have going on. No pressure. (But lots of pressure.) Please keep smiling as much as possible. But not in a creepy way. Just play it cool, okay? Stop freaking out. Oh, that’s me freaking out? Well, whatever! If you were being cooler right now I would probably be calm!
I’m sorry. Keep trying. I’m pretty sure this is going to be unpleasant for everyone involved. Do you tip dentists? I have a dollar in my purse. Nice to meet you.
It should be seen as a testament to my self-control that I only said some of those things. The kind, unsuspecting dentist informed me that I would not die that day of anything tooth related. He also did the poking/number-shouting thing on my gums. He told me that all the numbers needed to be three or below. None of my numbers were above three, so when he was done I said, “I win at gums, right?” and then there was a long, puzzled silence.
Now I need to add to my to-do list, “Call dentist to schedule more tooth stuff.” I’m sure he’s real excited about our reunion.
How do you do at the dentist? Any fun stories? Like that one time that you went to the dentist and they gave you a puppy named Sir Francis Furrypants? (See above re: lack of exposure.)