On Friday, I stepped out of work to do a speech at pretty exciting event. You can read about that on my Facebook. About 15 minutes before I left for the event, my tooth broke. I wasn’t eating anything. It just broke after I poked it with my tongue. It was about a quarter of a tooth, the furtherest back on the right hand side of my mouth. I pride myself on my teeth, so I was pretty scared of what this breakage meant for the rest of my teeth. WERE THEY SO BRITTLE THEY WOULD ALL FALL OUT?!
After the speech, I made a booking for the dentist on Saturday. I was terrified. Terrified of the pain and the cost.
I haven’t been to the dentist in years. How bad would my teeth be?, I feared.
When I lived in Albury, I went to one regularly. At school, I went to the free dental van – it was cold, and the toothpaste was grainy and not at all minty. Even when I was a young adult, I got student rates. And then I moved to Melbourne and made my dental health a low priority because of the cost. Going to the dentist is so expensive. While I get free hospital appointments, my creams and tablets are quite a signtifcant cost (particularly when I was on a lower wage/living alone), and dental appointments just seemed like another financial burden. So I put it off until a broken tooth forced me to go.
My parents always encouraged me to look after my teeth. I think I was about ten when my Dad stopped brushing my teeth – you might call that helicopter parenting, but I call that an investment in a child’s teeth. My Dad, especially, was so strict with my teeth that I saw getting fillings as a failure. (I’ve only had one.) So I have kept to Dad’s brushing regime – twice a day – though just with a regular toothbrush, and I never floss.
On Saturday morning, I headed to the dentist with trepidation. When I arrived, I filled in a new patient form, and because I indicated I was anxious about seeing the dentist, I was asked to complete another form, which was a survey about my level of anxiety. I was very scared about the needle and cost, and not so scared about anything else. The fact they were concerned about a patient’s anxiety put me at ease immediately.
The dental surgery was lovely. The chairs were luxuriously soft. And Toy Story was playing on the TV screen to distract patients. The room was cleared of latex for me. And the dentist and I had a great chat. He cleaned my teeth and I had an X-ray.
It’s my wisdom tooth that broke. It’s not worth repairing because wisdom teeth are not necessary. So it’s likely I will need them out soon. Before that, I need to see the dermatologist to discuss how this process might hurt my skin. A few friends have given me some advice – the biggest worry will be cracks in the corners of my mouth.
1. The dentist was less painful than expected.
2. It cost much less than expected.
3. My teeth are in very good condition. Other than the broken tooth, there were no cavities.
They’re super clean and polished now. So white. And I went out and bought an electric toothbrush and floss.
I was so relieved about this appointment. I’d built up the fear, but it really wasn’t too bad. I got this. I can do this wisdom teeth thing. Adam will need to hold my hand though.
Have you got a fear of the dentist? Did you overcome it? What did you watch on the dentist’s TV?