There is something about going to the dentist that reduces us to a quivering, quaking, shaking mass of human flesh. Fear prevents us from going, even when the pain is a constant aching, throbbing, stabbing, thrusting pain like a jackhammer chewing up concrete; with our jaws so swollen that our heads are lopsided and leaning to one side. We think the pain and swelling will magically disappear overnight with a few aspirin. When that does not work, we turn to ice to numb the pain or gargling with salt water and hydrogen peroxide. We will do whatever it takes to keep us from making that dreaded visit to the dentist. We insist emphatically that we are ok; there is nothing wrong with us. We chant this mantra over and over to the mirror as we carefully open our mouths and do a self-examination of our teeth. We keep thinking the pain is not so bad; we really do not need to go to the dentist.
Who are we kidding? When we can feel our heartbeats throbbing in our teeth, yes, we really do need to go to the dentist! Dentistry has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years and recent studies have shown that good oral health leads to a longer life. So why are we so afraid of the dentist? Why do we have a dental phobia? Was it a bad childhood experience or the angry biting sound of the drill? Whatever the reason is for our fear of the dentist, maybe it is time to buck up and get over our fear. After all, the dentist is a professional, just like a doctor. Who is afraid of going to the doctor?
We ask our family, friends and co-workers about their dentists. Are the good? Are they nice? Do they cater to cowards? We finally break down and make that appointment with the dentist and we promise ourselves it will not be that bad.
On the day of the feared appointment, we attempt to calm the iron butterflies beating and churning in our stomachs. We spend thirty minutes brushing and flossing our teeth, rinsing frantically hoping to get every single little food particle from between our teeth, only to brush, floss and rinse again. What if we missed something? Will the dentist know that we ate that candy bar two days ago? Will they think we are not taking care of our teeth? What if we are brushing our teeth wrong? Will the dentist berate us for that cavity? Maybe we should just cancel the appointment.
It is time to go. We get in the car trying to control our trembling limbs and make the drive to the dentist. Our hearts are beating so loudly we can barely hear the receptionist explaining how to fill out the forms. Numbly we shake our heads taking the clipboard to fill out the required paperwork. Once it is completed, we nervously wait for our name to be called. Finally, after an eternity, our name is called and we are ushered into the back, taking the long walk down the hallway.
The assistant asks how we are and if we have any problem areas. They take x-rays of all our teeth and soon the dentist is in the room. Much to our surprise, the dentist turns out to be human after all and is very nice. They set up a treatment plan, take care of the immediate problems and we are done.As we leave the dentist office, we breathe a sigh of relief, wiping the sweat off our brow and feeling enormously proud of ourselves for being so brave. We ask ourselves why we were so afraid of the dentist. It was not so bad! Well, until next time!