My Fear of the Dentist – Revisited

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Today I don’t feel like writing. So I’m going to edit an old post. Enjoy!

I got to play with these during one of my visits to my friend, the hygienist.

I got to play with these during one of my visits to my friend, the hygienist.

I have a vague memory of kicking my dentist when I was younger. It’s a vague memory, but it’s there. I think my sister may have done worse to him because the guy had a horrible bedside (chairside?) manner. He gets points for his office since it had this neat little attic area in the waiting room where kids could go and play, but the rest of my memories of the dentist are horrifying and painful. Strange tools were shoved in my mouth. Having x-rays and fluoride done on my teeth were particularly awful because I hated having pieces of cardboard and funny tasting trays shoved into my mouth for prolonged periods of time. The absolute worst, however, was  and having the dentist give me needles to numb my mouth. The needles are some of my worst childhood experiences that I can recall because they always hurt, the gloves always tasted and felt funny in my mouth and…well, there was a huge needle right in front of my face being shoved in my mouth. I hated going to the dentist.

The last time that I can remember going to the dentist was when I was 12.

Then after that was a whole lot of nothing because life got busy and I was terrified of going.

Until one of my closest friends got into dental hygienist school and eventually needed a live guinea pig to practice on. Now, I love Brittany. We’ve known each other since elementary school. We’ve been close and great friends since high school. I can’t say that I wasn’t stoked when I found out she would be living close to me while she was in school, because I was pretty darn stoked to have her so close. Except for the part where she wanted to practice the tricks of her trade on me.

Now, just think about some of the things that your hygienist does to you: She cleans your teeth with all kinds of sharp tools. She sits there, wearing a mask and funny tasting gloves and she uses those freaky sharp tools to dig around in your teeth. Not only that, but she she’s the one to stick the x-tray cardboard in your mouth, she puts the fluoride trays in your mouth and sometimes she’s the one who gets to stab you in the gums with a needle to numb your mouth. She finds all the icky, sticky, gross things in your mouth and she digs, scrapes and washes it all away and then shoves this suction, reverse straw thing into your mouth that tries to suck your tongue up and snatch it clean out of your mouth.

That’s just in one visit.

Now, Brittany was in school for this stuff, and this was the sort of stuff that you can’t just learn about in theory and apply later. She actually practised this stuff on people. A lot. Week after week, she would apply the things that she was learning on other students in her class and on patients who volunteered to be practised on. One of those patients turned out to be me. She needed a patient and I happened to have teeth, so I was more than happy to let her stare into the deepest and ugliest parts of my mouth. Week after week, I dutifully marched my way to her school, sat in her freaky dentist chair and let her shove all of those freaky looking tools that look like torture instruments into my mouth again and again.

The first few times, I was terrified. All I could think about was how much going to the dentist sucked. I remember how much it hurt and how awful being upside down in that chair while a masked stranger shoved things into my mouth. Sharp things. Things she would shove into my mouth while wearing funny tasting gloves.

However, as time wore on and I sat in that chair week after week after week after week, I realized that her dentist chair was super comfortable. I also noticed how pretty Brittany’s eyes were since the rest of her face was covered up in a mask. It was fascinating in the extreme as I found out everything about everything to do with my mouth. I now know what pockets are and that I have them, I learned about why you really should floss everyday and mostly I learned that a pretty mouth is key to an overall great facial appearance.

Seriously, after weeks and even months of having my mouth cleaned and brushing my teeth constantly so I could get my plaque index down, I really started to notice how it effected how I looked and saw myself in the mirror. My new bright and clean smile was like the centre piece to my face that seemed to light up my eyes and, to me, made all of my facial expressions all that much more…expressive.

I thought my mouth was clean before. Then Brittany dug this little black grain of something out of my gums that had apparently been there for a super long time. She dug it out of my gums. Out. Of. My. Gums. It was both gross and amazing. Or at least I was amazed at the stuff she picked out of my mouth. Yes, I was a little horrified by what came out of my mouth, but I was also amazed, amused and appalled at what my mouth had been up to all my life.

However, the most amazing thing of all was how Brittany broke my total and utter fear of the dentist. . Through all of my appointments, I got to learn that the freaky torture tools used on me as a child weren’t freaky at all. At each appointment Brittany would let me fiddle with all of the stuff around I after a while, I started to see what used to be scary implements of torture as the everyday tools of my friends profession. I can even remember being stoked to see her tools were purple, her favourite colour. It’s hard to stay scared of things when you can get excited for their colour.

Besides the probing part of my appointments, my life in my friends chair was painless, fun and a really good gab session. Heck, I can honestly say that she has given me the least painful needles that I have ever had in my entire life. That’s right, I let my friend give me needles…in my mouth. On more than one occasion. I can honestly say that even as a student, she was a pro at sticking needles in my mouth. The needles I remember as a child were scary. They hurt. They were administered by a stranger with a mask. I had every reason to be scared and to maintain that fear. Brittany understood that I was scared and she helped me get over that by proving I had nothing to be scared about. Now I’m more than happy to get her administer aesthetics if she ever has to because I know it means that she’s trying to prevent me from feeling any pain.

After all those weeks and months of sitting in Brittany’s chair, playing with her tools, and letting her give me needles I realized that I wasn’t afraid of the dentist any more. In fact, I look forward to my dental hygiene appointments because now it’s just time spent with a great friend who is a complete pro at what she does, and I like how my teeth feel after a good cleaning. There is nothing that I have to fear about going to the dentist.

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