Actually, I'm pretty much the least dental-scared/traumatized person in the world. I believe this is a result of good mouth genes, good oral care on the home front, not drinking pop as a child, and having an uncle as my dentist. Going to see the dentist always meant sitting in a chair, getting your teeth cleaned, saying "hi" to my uncle, picking out a bouncy ball from the treasure chest, and getting a Frosty with Mom on the way home. I mean, that's a good deal, right? So imagine my shock upon hearing, in school, that half the world was in terror of dentists. Huh? What gives?
Who knew that half the world was experiencing brutal mouth-shots and drilling and all sorts of other freaky stuff at the dentist. We never got cavities in our house; I associated shots with regular immunizations--scary stuff--and then later the dermatologist. (We were always getting funny lookin' moles sliced off.) Why weren't people scared of the skin doctor, the guy who would greet me with, "Goddamn it, wear sunscreen!" In February?
I didn't go to a new dentist until after I married and moved. This new quack poked all over my mouth and promptly declared I had 6 cavities that needed to be taken care of, pronto, and I probably didn't want that metal stuff, but fancy new porcelain, or my mouth would look all ugly. Umm...no. I checked out and noticed my neighbor's paperwork laying right on the reception counter. Strike two, buster. I made an appointment with my uncle 3 hours away. "Your teeth are fine. You have some pits, and those can get stains. That guy was trying to milk you," he said. More or less.
My brothers were in dental school at the time--or maybe they were newly graduated--and I think I had them take a cursory look in my mouth then. When I say cursory, they may or may not have used a dinner fork to poke around. They might have muttered something about tooth #16 looking possibly suspicious. And when I say "they," I think I only mean one brother, but I do have two, twins, and yes, both are dentists.
I found a new dental practice closer to my then home. It was a rather new and shiny looking office, and a youngish dentist said tooth #16 should probably be filled. I was okay with that. Call me crazy, but at this point, I was really curious about what getting a cavity filled was like. What kind of trauma was I missing out on? I wanted to know!
All I really remember was a drill-y noise and a yicky odor. I don't even remember if they gave me a shot.
To be fair, I had four teeth removed for orthodontics work, and that wasn't exactly a cake walk, but by then, I'd already sucked up getting a mole removed from a lady-parts area, which caused me to pass out on the exam table and wake up in my own urine, so really, even those tooth extractions weren't that memorable. (And my mom probably still got me a Frosty afterwards.)
Nowadays, the worse part of a dental exam for me is when they do that little poke-poke thing were they assign a number to your gums to check for gum health (I think; please note I'm not being supervised by a dentist as I write this, so please, in no way let this guide your dental care.) I must say, I feel a little judged during this part. "You'll want to hear a 1, 2, or 3," they tell me. Apparently, you're a total looser if they ever say "4", or "5", or "1,240." So I sit there, staring at whatever might be on the ceiling (I photo of a farm and stream today; nice touch), thinking, "Please give me straight 1's." But I don't get straight 1's. I get a bunch of 1's, and some 2,'s, and sometimes a 3, which typically happens near the back of my mouth, where I still have my wisdom teeth. (Yes, I still have my wisdom teeth. This must mean I am wise!) Am I a loser at brushing and flossing my wisdoms? Am I undeserving of them? Is a 1 like an A? And if so, is a 2 a B? Or is it a B+? And what's a 3? I hate to think I'm getting C's on my mouth report card. 'Cause I'm not really sure. Can we say a 3 is still a B or B-?
I get a quick check-through from
I made sure to take some stickers on the way out. I have enough bouncy balls. And my mom still took me out to lunch after, which is even better than a Frosty.**
And that's why you should not be scared of the dentist. The end.
**Unless you think a Frosty is better than a whole lunch. I'm okay with that opinion. Frosties are pretty damn good.