I’m sure most of you are thinking one of two things: “Stop being such a wuss” or “No kidding, stupid.” Well I had an experience yesterday that really made me understand why movies like The Dentist and Little Shop of Horrors give people the willies.
First off, I’ve got to say that this wasn’t your average cleaning appointment where the dental hygienist does all the work and then the smarmy dentist walks in, checks her work and says something like “Keep up with that flossing.” I had an appointment like that last week and it went well. Well, it lead to this appointment where I had two cavities filled, so it didn’t go all that well I guess.
I feel a little dental background might be in order. I went to the same dentist for most of my childhood. He was a nice older guy who worked in the office next to where my Grandma worked. As a kid I was never scared of the dentist, my mom still tells the story of how I was giggling during the drilling for my first filling. It tickled I guess. It wasn’t until I got my wisdom teeth yanked out between Junior and Senior year of college that I ever got an injection in my gums. I was pretty freaked out about that because I hate needles and the idea of one in my mouth was extra terrifying. But I got knocked out pretty good and barely remember it.
So, before leaving for my appointment Em said something about not being able to eat afterwards because I’d be numb from the shot. I told her she’s crazy, that not all dentists use the shot and I’d be fine. Well, once I was in the chair the dentist told me I would only need a shot on one side and not the other (the cavities were on opposite sides). The shot was the least of my worries (I didn’t even feel it after he numbed me up with some pink goo).
Part of the problem was that neither the dentist nor his assistant ever explained what they were doing to me. I haven’t had a cavity filled in maybe 10 years, so I had no idea what was going on. Sure, I’m 26 and they probably assumed I’d been around the dental block a time or 12, but come on! That’s just bad bedside (chairside?) manner.
Needless to say, I was pretty freaking tense when the drill started. “If you feel anything, let me know,” he said before starting in on the side that wasn’t numbed. I was pushing against the chair so hard you’d think I was trying to Kitty Pryde myself through it. I had to concentrate on calming down. But you know what the absolute worst part was? The assistant wasn’t doing a very good job with the suction and I felt like I was going to drown. I didn’t want to gulp the water down because I don’t want to bump his drill and have it tear into a nerve or something, but I couldn’t stop myself. Luckily there was no tearing or nerve-drilling.
After all was said and done I felt like a big wuss, but I now understand why my mom can’t watch Little Shop of Horrors. There’s a definite sense of helplessness when you’re lying in the prone position with 7 weird things in your mouth (it’s really hard to write about this without it sounding like bad porn) and not really knowing what’s going on. Plus, drills and water are involved. Aren’t those technically forms of torture now?
How do you guys feel about the dentist?