Opinion: Drilling down on dental fears


Friends, I may be checking out mentally for a while, as my March calendar has rudely informed me that I have a semi-annual teeth cleaning coming up. If you see me wandering aimlessly in Meijer, “Naked and Afraid”-style, you’ll know why. My by best advice is to look away. Look away.

Allow me to provide context for my soon-to-be catatonic state. The sheer terror that I experience with every dental visit begins well in advance of the appointed hour. The anxiety of knowing what potentially awaits – scraping, drilling, cavity filling – mounts exponentially until nothing else matters. Work, family, showering … what’s the point if it all might end at the hands of a gregarious but aggressive hygienist? I’ve begged my dentist to add a psychiatric professional to his staff, or at the very least, slide me a Valium, but he promises “I’ll be fine.”

Fine? Is scouting various escape routes fine? Is lying about a sick kid fine? Is rescheduling three times for no reason except debilitating panic fine? I think I speak for many children of the ’70 and ’80s when I say that going to the dentist, even a gentle and compassionate one, is the stuff of nightmares because of what dentistry used to be like. I mean, did “laughing gas” really numb anything except the ability to flee? Is it any wonder I’m still traumatized? And god help me if he actually finds something. “Doo, we’ve had a good run, but Canada is calling.”

So, folks, wish me luck. And again, if you stumble across a desperate-looking redhead in dairy wearing nothing but smeared mascara, look away.

Peace out.

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