Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Surviving the Dentist

I have always had bad teeth. My teeth are soft and chalky, they break, chip, and get cavities easily. Why? No one is sure - just a random genetic fluke, being born premature, growing up on rural well water, etc... No one can say right off hand. I brush quite a bit but never as much as my dentist would like (4+ times a day is just too much for me), but I do what I can. Besides normal brushing, I also follow up brush with a special high fluoride gel, and use Listerine style mouth wash. I try to floss but hate it so much that it is a rarely accomplished. This has all helped some - now instead of 15 cavities and chips every time I go to the dentist, I only have 2 or 3. I know the people out there who are lucky and have strong teeth are cringing and can't believe 2 or 3 fixes per year is good...but trust me on this, it is! And I think it will continue to get better as I cut more sugar out of my dentist put it this way "If it takes most people one pound of sugar to get a cavity, you would probably take 1/2 cup." So I am trying...but I have always so loved sugar. I drink mostly diet soda and it has been almost a year since I have had a "candy only day".

My dentist does a great job with what he has to work with (I just wish it didn't cost so much!), but it hasn't always been easy for me. Over the years, I have developed many guidelines for myself to help me get through dentist appointments.

  1. Always get Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) - it may cost extra, but by god is it worth it. I have never done any other drugs or even been drunk in my life, so it is hard to me to tell you how it compares but from hearing potheads talk, I would say it is similar to marijuana. I mean it relaxes you so you don't care nearly as much about someone sticking needles and drills and other instruments of destruction into your mouth. Just being high makes going to the dentist almost worth it.

  2. Close your eyes - you might think that you want to know what is going on so that you can prepare for it or something. You do not. Close your eyes, let the professionals do the work that they are highly trained to do. I remember when I was a kid that I would always watch exactly what the dentist was doing in the reflection of his glasses or the overhead light and watch as tools are being lowered into my mouth. It makes you very anxious, it makes you expect pain (even when you are numb if you see a needle being jabbed in your gums you feel it in your brain). Close your eyes. You really don't want to know what's happening and you don't want to know what your teeth actually look like on the inside.

  3. Don't listen to music or watch TV - this one is a little counter intuitive. Instead of distracting me, it made me even more aware and tense. Why? My brain would notice each time that the drill, suction, etc... would start up and it would make me tense about the situation all over again. I was constantly being reminded that I wasn't just watching TV or listening to music and that was even worse that just letting it all happen. Also I was always so afraid of missing some vital instruction - that my brain was also constantly straining, listening for my dentist's voice and it made appointment seem so much longer than it actually was.

  4. Get an afternoon appointment & don't go back to work - I always tell work that I will not be back. It is not much but looking forward to an hour or two mini-vacation as a treat to yourself for surviving the dentist really helps. Plus you don't have to deal with all your co-workers when your mouth is half can stay at home and slobber all over yourself.

That's it, with those 4 easy tips, you should survive your dental procedures without too much harm done.

Please note - picture above is not my tooth although I have several like it. It is used for illustration purposes only.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My dentist at one point pretty much insisted I start getting the clown nose for cleanings. They said it would make things easier on everyone. I didn't argue.