All of my life I've been afraid of going to the dentist. I'm quite sure the root of the problem lies in my childhood (what else is new). You might think that a child born and raised in Canada would have excellent dental coverage because, isn't it part of the whole universal health care system? Actually, no. And it still isn't, to my knowledge, I'm sure somebody out there will correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, since we didn't have coverage, the only time any of us went to the dentist was when it was absolutely necessary, as in, emergency. As in, you're in so much pain you don't really remember much about the experience other than it was awful. Not being one to learn a lesson, as an adult I pretty much continued this trend. A decade or more would pass in between visits, and I am not exaggerating.
Nobody in my family has good teeth and I'm no exception. My Dad's teeth were rotting out of his head by his late teens and he had them all pulled in his early 20s and got false teeth. Seeing my Daddy's teeth in a little glass jar next to the bathroom sink was completely normal to me. I don't recall my Mom having any real issues with her teeth, but us kids obviously got our choppers from my Dad's side. I faired better than my other siblings, thankfully, there's always someone worse off than you, right?
When I started my life over at 30, getting my teeth taken care of was one of the things I wanted to change. When I finally went, pretty much the first thing he did was send me to a surgeon to have my wisdom teeth out. All four of them at once. This was not a pleasant experience. The surgeon was a total ass, telling me I should have had them out at 13, not 33, but at least they did IV sedation so I don't remember them wrenching the teeth out of my head. More than 10 years later I still have nerve damage in my lower left jaw, but I've come to terms with the fact that it will probably never feel completely normal.
When I asked D to marry me I decided I wanted to get my front teeth fixed for the wedding. They weren’t that bad, but the two middle teeth overlapped a bit and there wasn’t any way to fix them, so I had the middle four teeth capped. Despite being shocked when I found out he was going to file them down to stubs before putting on the new porcelain versions, I was very happy with the results. Then one of them abscessed. I’d never had this happen before so I didn’t understand what was going on. By the time I made it his office after a weekend of torture the right side of my face was swollen from my eye to my upper lip, my sinus cavity completely filled with infection. Not a pretty sight. This required a prolonged root canal, which of course is a two-step process. Then later that year another one abscessed and I went through the whole thing again, root canal and all.
After that I had what seemed like many more procedures done, and I became able to handle it OK. I wasn’t having panic attacks just calling to make appointments anymore. I thought I had slayed my dragon.
I was wrong.
I got tired of driving an hour to get to my trusted dentist’s office, and I got tired of paying the extra charges because I was being treated out of network, so I switched to a dentist close to home. In case you don’t remember, this happened last year, and now I can’t go back there anymore, and I haven't been to another dentist since. Yes, it's already been a year and a half.
I have two silver crowns on my lower molars that I’ve had since I was in junior high school. They need replacing, not just because they are silver, but because they don’t cover the teeth completely anymore and I have random pain. I’ve been putting this off because there was so many other dental things that were more pressing, but now I am to the point where I really, really need to take care of it. Before he tried to kill me, I had the local dentist request pre-authorization from insurance, which he got, but then I ran out of coverage for last year before he could do it, and then, like I said, he tried to kill me, so I fired him.
My anxiety level about my teeth has been growing. I haven’t said anything about it to D because what was he going to say, except, you need to make an appointment, which I already knew. The other night my anxiety ranneth over and I literally worried myself sick. After we went to bed I couldn’t stop thinking about my teeth. I couldn’t decide if I felt like I was going to pass out or throw up, but I could feel a swell of something and I woke up D to tell him I didn’t feel well. He asked me what was wrong and I completely lost it, sobbing into his chest about how scared I was and how worried I was about my teeth. He’s leaving on Sunday for 3 weeks and I kept thinking this situation was going to turn into an emergency while he was gone. As soon as I started crying and explaining what was really going on in my head, I felt better.
I’ve decided that I need to find a dentist that does oral sedation. Taking a little pill, falling asleep and waking up when everything’s all done seems like the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately not many in-network dentists offer it, but I am committed to finding one that does or to forking over the extra money to make it happen. Of course, I haven’t started calling dentists yet.
One step at a time.