If I Opened Wider I’d Have No Face

Have you seen those cartoons where a character advances their foot into a room, then there’s a brief pause before their body follows with a screeching sound like tires stopping on wet pavement? As I was lying in the dentist chair last Thursday, I realized that had been me for the past month, with my body preceding my mind by about five minutes. The reason, my dear Zesties, was a routine dental checkup and the news I needed a crown.

A First World problem, right? Because for most people, because beyond the financial issues, that’s not big news or a permanent threat.

But I’m a tooth-challenged wimp, I admit it. I earned my dental-phobia in childhood with a family dentist who was beefy, old, unkind, and I suspect wasn’t particularly competent, even for the time. (For instance, though my parents assure me it wasn’t real, I recall him entering the room wearing a blood-stained smock.)

Anyway, last Thursday when I thought I was done with oral professionals for six months, I left their office in a positively giddy mood. I had coffee with a fellow writer. My mouth felt normal, which is to say I’d stopped noticing its existence with every bite and swallow. Within a day, I was getting on top of the chores I’d let slide and my writing goals seemed achievable again.

Then I had the unmitigated gall to bite into a piece of toast on Saturday morning — whole wheat, peanut-buttered — and *crunch-grind-grit-wince*

Who knew that a chunk of porcelain would be so vulnerable?

Back I must go, peeps, and I’m not particularly happy about it. This is where you come in. I know I’m not alone in my childhood or dental fear, or of overcoming it as an adult. If you’re so inclined, please soothe me with your stories of how you endured a bazillion root canals thanks to the miracle of modern dentistry. Tell me how you conquered the dental chair. I am ready to become a believer.

And since it’s been so long since we chatted, what’s new with you lately? Are you getting ready for the holidays? Maybe a good thing about this dental stuff is that for the first time in years, I’m actually feeling Christmas-y.

13 thoughts on “If I Opened Wider I’d Have No Face

  1. That bit about the blood-stained smock slayed me. 😀 Our family dentist was my mom’s cousin, and he didn’t believe in anesthesia, of any kind, for drilling. He too was beefy, and was a ‘tough it out kid’ kind of guy. The first dentist I went to as an adult (by necessity/almost emergency) had ‘Gentle Dentistry’ as the name of his office. I’ve moved since, but I’m still grateful to that guy for showing that dental care wasn’t exclusively provided by sadists to masochists.

    The video may explain the Christmas-y feeling in the midst of this. 🙂 I wish you a speedy resolution.

  2. Ah yes, how many of us delayed dental work through our late teens, twenties, thirties? until forced to try it again? *shudder* You definitely earned your fear, though I’m glad to hear you turned things around!

    You lost me at the video comment though, Vaughn. Of course, I’m pre-caffeine.

    1. Hey, that’s weird. I swear there was a video up on your blog. It was the abominable snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I didn’t actually watch it, but I presumed it was the scene were Hermie the elf pulls his teeth, which had made him so abominable, and then he became a nice snow monster. Huh. Maybe I was seeing things. I was not yet fully caffeinated either.

  3. As a child, I was in love with my dentist. There are no memories of blood stained smocks (too funny, Jan!). Even though it hurt like crazy, I was determined to be the perfect patient, smother back my cries of pain, and sit perfectly still while he ravaged my mouth. Although I’ve never had a fear of dentists, there’s always been pain. But then I discovered a dentist who was so gentle and so concerned with causing me pain, I barely knew he was in there drilling. 🙂 Needless to say, even though I was terrified to have my first root canal, it was a breeze … and so was the second and third. Here’s hoping your dentist gives you a pain free root canal so you never fear them again.

  4. I sympathize with your dental issues. I’ve been getting fillings, and crowns, and even root canals, for way too many years, since apparently my teeth are WAY more fragile than the foods I eat. LOL But even with that much experience, I still get twitchy at anything that looks, sounds, or smells like the dentist’s office. I hope it’s taken care of for you speedily, and painlessly. 🙂

    1. Do you love seeds and grains and all manner of crunchy things, Donna? I do. Don’t think I’ll ever take them for granted again.

      Sorry you’ve had so many dental experiences yet still get twitchy. And thanks for the kind wishes!

  5. There are excellent dentists out there.

    My first was not among them. One time he gave me enough freezing. It took three days to come out. Otherwise I felt everything. Once the pain was so bad he threatened to throw me out the window if I didn’t hold still. I very nearly took the window, thinking it would hurt less. If he was alive today I’d be heading a class action suit against him–he had other victims, who were also covered by ‘lesser’ insurance plans.

    Fortunately he’s the sole torturer in the dentists I’ve visited. The rest have been kind, gentle and patient with my hesitation. They are worth their weight in gold fillings–(sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    1. OMG, Phyllis. That’s *terrible.* Were you a child or merely someone who didn’t know you could do better? And I’m not big on lawsuits, but that makes me so angry on your behalf I understand the urge. Wow.

      So glad you’ve found better dentists, and thank you for passing on the hope.

      1. I was a child. Fortunately the bad dentist went on vacation one time and we were sent to a really good one. I couldn’t believe it could be so painless and the dentist could be so caring. I asked if we could switch but it wasn’t within the insurance parameters.

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