Yesterday was torturous. I sat with my mouth stretched open wide for three and a half hours, while my dentist and his hygienist had their way with my teeth.
Did I hear you say what was the matter? I needed three fillings and a crown replaced.
Really minor stuff compared to having a wisdom tooth pulled or root canal surgery. Yet here I was with heart in my mouth and utter dread slowly eating away at me.
Why do dental visits inspire such foreboding and angst in most of us?
I had visions of the dentist drilling the wrong tooth or sneezing suddenly and the sharp instrument piercing my tender, unsuspecting gums. What if the dental hygienist had mental health problems and decided to go bananas on my teeth?
If you've ever seen this awfully icky horror flick, "The Dentist" certain images will haunt you for the rest of your life. The story is about this Beverly Hills dentist who finds out his wife is cheating on him, becomes mentally unhinged and starts vengefully destroying teeth, jabbing gums of unsuspecting folks, mutilating mouths, you name it. Just chilling to watch. But pretty effective as a horror film, I can attest to that.
I can't really recall any visit of mine where the dentist inflicted terrible pain. Yet, every time (once or twice a year at the most) I have a dental appointment, I find myself quaking in my boots and doing all I can to postpone the visit.
There's something about all those hook-shaped, sharp-edged tools surrounding the patient's chair that make me want to run screaming for my life, all the way home. No thank you. No, I really don't want my teeth examined, probed, drilled, excavated, polished, scraped or extracted.
The dentist dread may be a remnant of my childhood, where I was forced to wear orthodontic braces to straighten my teeth. I remember well the elastic bands we had to thread into the sides of our braces and how food would annoyingly get stuck in between all that metal.
I lost most of a tooth in a bike accident years and years ago, another lifetime ago it seems, hence the crown. And all the fillings needed replacing - they were really old. A week ago, one just fell out! So I was forced, just forced to finally visit the dentist and get it redone.
I must say, my dentist did a marvelous job. But in my head I kept counting the minutes. Did he really have to take that long?