Friday, December 10, 2010

First Appointment With the New Dentist

I had my first appointment with the new dentist.

Though I had convinced myself that my phobia of dentists was all in my head, right before I left I came down with a sudden illness. I broke out in a cold sweat. I felt shaky and thought I might vomit.

I went ahead with the appointment, just in case I really was crazy and not infected with a purely coincidental case of malaria. On my way to there, I drove two miles past the dentist's street. I know the street well. It's only a mile from my house. I drive down that street all the time. I've even seen the medical building where the dentist practices, but there I was, happily driving past it and past all of the familiar landmarks telling me I was clearly going the wrong way.

You see, Phobia had taken the wheel and it kept heading north. I think Phobia would have continued on to the Mackinac Bridge if Reason hadn't taken over at that point. In addition to that, OCD-Lite doesn't like to be late, and everyone knows that OCD-Lite trumps both Phobia and Reason, so there was no way I was missing the appointment.


What struck me right off about this dentist was that he sat down and chatted with me first. We talked about my career. We got to know each other, real social-like. I found out that his granddaughter is the same age as my baby daughter. He asked me my opinion of businesses creating Facebook pages (I think it's a "Do") and told me about writing an article for a medical journal and working with an editor for the first time. We chatted about Things That Interest Mandy until I was soothed into a state of relaxitude. Then we got to the nitty gritty back story of How Mandy Because a Freaky Freak About Dentists.

Now it's true I had a lot of dental work done as a child. Every molar has a filing. I knocked out two thirds of my right front tooth and had to have that filed down, and then later on, had to have two steel posts inserted into the tooth. I've had two root canals. And then I had to have those two root canals re-done through the top of my gum in a procedure called an apicoectomy. Look it up. It's seriously gross. Add to that, my phobia may also have something to do with the fact that none of my childhood dentists used enough Novocaine. Did you know that you're not supposed to moan during dental procedures? Yeah, if that's happening, your dentist is supposed to take that as a cue that you are not sufficiently numbed.

Who knew?

So we now know that the New Dentist likes to play it fast and loose with the anesthesia. I for one think this could be the start of a beautiful dental relationship.

I also learned that I have an overbite. Funny, I always pictured overbites as obvious. And I never realized that the way I constantly clench my jaw is not normal. I figured it was the result of some sort of neurosis (one of many) but it turns out it's a mechanical problem. (Yay! One less freaky psychological quirk for Mandy! Success!)

This is what you get when you Google "Overbite."

And this is what you get when you Google "Animals with overbites."

Apparently all of the headaches, neck aches, shoulder pain and back pain I have could be related to the overbite. The New Dentist also pushed on my lower jaw and I said, "Ouch!" Apparently that's not supposed to happen either. This is almost as much of a revelation as when I discovered my pesky little thyroid condition.

It's amazing what you discover when you actually go to the doctor.

I have also never been to a cosmetic dentist, so I was curious about having a ceramic mirror inserted into my mouth while the doctor took pictures of my teeth from every possible angle.

Not actually me.

He also took a regular shot of me smiling at the camera. He prompted me to "Smile bigger!" and it struck me how unnatural it felt to smile that big.

I felt vulnerable and exposed. But I did it, because I kept imaging the "After" photo. I wonder if he'll loan me the files so I can use it my blog? If he's leery of creating a Facebook page, I wonder what he'll think of starring in my blog?

I go back in two weeks to find out what his recommendations are. I'm not sure how you fix an overbite and I'm not sure how bad all my chipped, broken and capped teeth are, but one thing I am sure of is that my husband and I are going to need to be fully sedated when we find out how much it's going to cost.


  1. best use of pictures in a long time.

    I'm surprised you didn't spray him with windex before he opened you up.

    Does he play soothing music? I went to one that did... and it freaked me out more than the drill.

  2. No, no soothing music. At least not that I noticed. There was a clanging in my head that I assumed was internal.

  3. Mine has a personal high def tv mounted on a swivel thingy in front of every torture chair. No smack. We learned how to stuff cornish hens while she was tunneling in my head last fall. Slightly surreal to say the least.

    "And now you tie de leetle legs together...."

  4. Just so long as it wasn't your dentist saying those words, it's all cool.

  5. Good luck with your new dentist! I hate going to the dentist. I am so paranoid I brush floss and use mouthwash several times a day now. I do not want to be subjected to the drill anymore.

  6. When I was 12, I had a horrible dentist experience; I've been scarred ever since!

  7. My childhood dentist left the mold for braces in too long, it dried, and he couldn't get it out without pulling out three of my molars with it. No novocaine, just oops! Animals, all of them

    If you have netflix, the show "Louie" (streaming live) has an episode called "Dentist" that's so funny, about his fear of dentists. If you get a moment. You'll laugh.

  8. I love your humour. My oldest fears all dentist but she is getting better. My little one loves it. The one we have is awesome. Check out my FBalbum/kidsToTheDentist.

    Good luck to you.

    Have been told (at my last RDV)that 2 of my kids might have to wear braces for different reasons. Hoping to keep my job for a loooong time. ;-)

  9. Ah yes, the pain of the Dentists Bill.

    Good luck honey, I love dentists to hand over the gas mask as you sit down. Mine had a sign on the ceiling over the chair ... This Too Shall Pass.
    Quite a kidder that dentist. But he gave me gas so what the hell.
    We won't discuss South American Dentistry .. :(

  10. I love how they think that talking to you about your personal life is really going to improve the situation. Last time I had some work done (a little pre-wedding bonding job) the doctor kept talking to me while the instruments were in my mouth. And there was some sort of mister spraying all over my face. I get why you don't enjoy the dentist. Although I bet you're going to have one hot grill after all is said and done!

  11. I never had a root canal, but I did have braces. And my orthodontist had forearms like a defensive lineman. I'm sure they were bigger than my thighs.

    After the monthly tightening, I couldn't eat anything but milkshakes and semi-melted ice cream for days, which wasn't the worst punishment in the world for a twelve-year-old...

  12. No wonder you have a phobia! Good for you for facing your fears. It sounds like there will be a big smile -- both brave and beautiful -- in your future.

  13. This is the way dental appointments should be done, in my opinion:

    You never know when the appointment is. You are walking to your car and you feel a tiny sting in the back of your neck; you reach around but are unconscious by the time you hit the ground.

    You wake up in your favorite chair in your living room, groggy and with fading numbness on one side of your mouth. You have been affixed with a soft terry drool bib. Before you is a plate of chocolates and a cold glass of milk. Your employer has been notified that you will not be in to work for the remaining week.

    The dental bill is paid by an anonymous medical consortium; you never see it.

  14. Sometimes the local anesthesia does not work as well as it is supposed to. And the dentist says "Just a little more and we are done" "We", my rear. As I cross my legs and kick as each zip zip of that drill touches tooth.
    But it's a short nightmare and I still say thank you after the session is over. Thank you Doctor Painmonster

  15. @Kimber: Apparently that's what you're supposed to do if you want to keep your teeth past your 60s.

    @Eva: I'm thinking Dentists on the whole need a little work on their bedside manner.

    @Steamie: Are you serious? That's malpractice! Geez.

    @Bird: It slayed me.

    @Who Wants to Dust: Do them a favor and get them braces as kids, then at least it's covered by insurance.

    @The Santa: I suspected as much.

    @a Broad: Yeah, haha real funny. But you're right, liberal use of the gas can forgive bad humor.

    @Mel: Fortunately he had the conversation with me before he put anything in my mouth.

    @La Piazza: That's hilarious.

    @Sere: Yes, let's hope so.

    @Robert: I want to live in your world.

    @Santa Part Two: That "Just a little more" seriously brought back bad memories like PTSD.

  16. i think in some ways you made my sister feel better. she's a lurker on your blog. she had bad, bad, bad experiences as a child at the dentist and she is going through some dental repairs now too. i am not quite as bad, but almost. we had a horrible dentist that barely believed in anything novacaine.

    but yeah...the cost could equal a small (or large) car.

  17. Oh man, you know it's going to cost a pretty penny, as they say. Or these days, an ugly dollar.

    I need to go to the dentist too, but I have too few ugly dollars to get there anytime soon.

  18. Unfortunately our "work" insurance only covers a small amount on the braces, even for kids. :-( But I will work towards this goal ... many, many dineros.

  19. I only have a few fears in life. Mimes, clowns and dentists are definitely in the top five. I am envious of your bravery to go back in and take care of things. I don't have the cajones right now. Too many other crappy things to deal with. At least that is my current excuse.

  20. I haven't been to the dentist in years due to bad experiences. This could be an inspiration!

  21. I hate the dentist,but I think it's mostly because of my trust issues. I can't trust a dentist, and consequently I try a new one every year, I think. Ugh. Although your post reminds me I'm overdue by a year because I couldn't decide who I wanted to go to next, so I just didn't go at all. Thanks a lot.

  22. When you are happy with your teeth, it won't feel so weird to smile so widely! I can soooo relate to your stories of dental fuckery, but then I found a great dentist, got dental insurance & then got hollywood veneers. CHANGED MY LIFE.

    Good luck with your teeth, keep smiling!
    Mrs BC

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  24. Congrats for beating the fear before it paralyzed you! I hope that made a huge step towards finally getting over that dental phobia you have. Well, I assumed that’s the case now, as it appears you’re appointment with the new dentist went well. Cheers!

    Bettye Primm @ Back Mountain Dental

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  26. It looks like your first appointment went great! It's good that you found a nice and accommodating dentist. He made sure that the rapport between the two of you was already established before he started with the procedure. That way, you weren't so tense when he had to start poking in there.

    Felipe Roberson @ Philly Dentist

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