the dental crisis of 2009

So I’m terrified of the dentist, right? If you know me at all, you know that I need large amounts of Valium to even think about picking up the phone and making a dentists appointment. And since I don’t know any drug dealers and my primary care physician frowns on substance abuse, I can never get my hands on enough Valium to actually make a dentist appointment. I’m telling you this in hopes that you might be a little understanding when you hear that it’s been about 7 years since my last dental cleaning.

On Monday I noticed some sensitivity in my left front tooth. As the day went on, the sensitivity increased so much that even sipping water was painful. Of course I started panicking because after my many years of neglect, who knows what’s going on in my mouth. I finally worked up enough courage to inspect the situation, and when I saw a tiny black speck on the side of my sensitive tooth, I immediately assumed I needed a root canal and started crying. Then I ignored the situation, hoping it would all just go away.

When I woke up on Tuesday, the pain was still there. The thought of seeing a dentist was terrifying, but I started to think that maybe the horrendous and constant anxiety I was feeling could be worse so I made an appointment for that afternoon. Then I sat at my desk and cried and just generally lost my shit until it was time to go. It was tons of fun.

When I got to the dentist’s building, I was greeted by a large Jamaican doorman. He asked me who I was there to see and after I told him “the dentist on floor 2” he joked, “but I am your dentist, miss” and then I started to cry. I think I may have hurt his feelings.

I started bawling when I met the real dentist because that’s what I do. When he asked what possibly could have happened to me to make me so scared, I managed to spit out something about Steve Martin and Little Shop of Horrors and my childhood dentist who accidentally filled my brother’s tooth when he was really supposed to extract the tooth and he did it wearing eyeliner and a dress. The doc accepted this as an adequate reason to be afraid.

I continued to cry as I told the dentist all about my cavity, a cavity I could see because it looked like a little piece of pepper on the side of my tooth. The doctor was surprisingly patient with me considering I was having a bona fide meltdown right in front of him.

He explained everything he did as he was doing it, “I’m just going to look. See? I have nothing in my hands. I just want to take a look”. And the looking wasn’t all that bad, but I was all freaked out when he said he’d need to x-ray the tooth and so I cried some more.

The dentist came back in the room with my developed x-rays and picked something up. “This is just air. I’m just going to blow some air on your tooth”. And he did and I cried. And then he said, “There’s nothing there. That tiny black speck that looked like a little piece of pepper? That was a little piece of pepper.”

I was so happy that the “pain” in my front tooth went away. I wanted to jump up from the chair and escape, but I was so brave, I stayed right where I was and let the dentist clean my teeth which, apparently, are in great shape considering all those visits I skipped. Sure, I have like 5 cavities, but they’re all in the back of my mouth, not the front, and for some reason that seems less scary.

when i got home Tuesday night, Jim showed me this video (do people watch videos when i post them? i feel like the answer is no, but you should really watch this one because it shows a 7 year old who's stoned on whatever drugs his dentist gave him and stoned 7 year olds are always funny):

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