Like a lot of people, I’m not a fan of going to the dentist. The prospect of a visit is one of the few things that can still raise my anxiety levels.
For me, this all started around the age of 10 when I had my first tooth-decaying session. I needed 8 fillings, one extraction and a gold crown. I didn’t eat sweets much and we had hardly any processed food. Dental floss hadn’t really made it to the UK by then but I diligently brushed my teeth every day. Obviously it didn’t make much of a difference and the cycle of mass filling sessions have gone on at varying intervals through my whole adult life.
My dentist at 10 was a lovely man. An alcoholic (a fact of which we were unaware at the time, obviously) who threatened to put me out of the surgery on the end of his boot if I didn’t stop crying at the thought of that gigantic needle being used to deliver a local anaesthetic.
As I said, lovely man.
The fear and anxiety grew from there really, not helped by the regular work that needed to be done. I got so bad that even just calling up for an appointment for a checkup would break me out in a sweat and I could barely grip the receiver without it slipping through my clammy hands. At worst, I had to be sedated just to have a filling. Nowadays, I only have to be sedated if they want to pull one of my teeth out, which has just happened for the fourth time.
At my last checkup in October, I thought I was doing OK until the dentist looked in my mouth and took a sharp intake of breath. “Fuck” I thought. What actually came out of my mouth was “what’s up?”. She then told me that one tooth at the back was going to have to come out. I’d just had the one beside it taken out about 18 months previously. Bugger. She also said that one on the other side (under a bridge) was going to have to be refilled and there was no guarantee of being able to get the bridge off to do the work and keep it one piece. I opted to do nothing to either tooth. I wasn’t having problems with either of them so why poke a proverbial sleeping dog?
Over the next 3 months bits of the offending rear tooth that had elicited the breath intake started to drop off. By February, the whole side had disintegrated. When the middle dropped out last month, I decided that it was time I addressed the problem. The lovely dentist who does the sedation took out the offending molar two weeks ago with me safely in la-la land. When I say “lovely dentist” – in this case I actually mean it. He is a total darling. The root was apparently infected. That may account for the reason that my face had been tender for a couple of weeks and I had been suffering from a dull very low level throbbing pain. It also may account for why everything was so sore for a couple of days afterwards and why I spent most of those days sleeping.
Two weeks on and it’s healing nicely, the pain has gone and my resting pulse has now fallen to a reasonable level.
Let’s hope the next one doesn’t give me any trouble anytime soon …