8 Years ago, I got my teeth cleaned for the first and only time in my adult life....until today.
Thanks to Dad's dental plan and both my parents' dedication to our oral health, our family visited the dentist like other families visit the mall. I had pulled teeth, dental surgeries, infections and orthodontics. I was a dentist's dream patient, one with never ending teeth trouble and responsible parents willing to schedule regular dental appointments. Once my parents stopped making appointments for me, I stopped going to the dentist. I hated the dentist, the whole experience of it.
For starters, I hated sitting, reclined or not, period. I hated the smells, the drilling, chiseling sounds, the evil hygenist, who without fail would scold me for not flossing, then proceed to jam floss as deep into the cracks between my teeth as she could. I hated the cutsey puppy and kitten posters, the ones with the annoyingly adorable quotes on them, strategically plastered to the ceiling above the chair. I hated the way the dentist, Dr. Manning, wow, I just remembered his name.....anyway, I hated how he would always undo the velcro straps on my shoes and criss cross them, his attempt at relaxing me and befriending me? Gimme a brake. I hated the stupid blue "bib" they would clip around my neck with a chain that looked like the one my the plug on my bathtub drain had. I hated biting down on the awkward plasticky things while a giant levers squeezed my head so a camera could rotate around me. I hated the sucking instrument, the one that never sucked until I had already drooled all over myself and I despised biting into the metal tray full of fluoride and sitting there, for what felt like forever breathing loudly through my mouth.
Today, I went to the dentist because Marty, one of those responsible types, who goes to the dentist even though his parents no longer schedule his appointments, wanted me too. He thought it would be nice if we BOTH had clean teeth for our upcoming wedding. He promised me it wouldn't be as bad as my childhood memories. He guarenteed that they would NOT pull any teeth and he said I didn't even have to get fluoride if I didn't want it. Because I love him, and because in my heart I know it is stupid NOT to go to the dentist, especially when I have a good benefits plan through my work, I went.
Filled with anxiety, i walked through the doors, into the dentist office. The ladies at the reception desk asked me how I was, I responded with a squeaky little, "nervous." Immediately they softened their voices and kindly aked me to fill out some paper work. The other patient waiting in the room, offered me sympathy and a pep talk. I looked at the questions on the clip board:
How do you feel about going the dentist? SCARED!
Have you ever been asked to take medication before going to the dentist? NO, BUT MAYBE I SHOULD BE TAKING SOMETHING!!!!!!
When was the last time you were at the dentist? 2001 OR 2002?! I went too much as a kid.....
Finally, I was called to the chair. Juanita, was my hygenist. She read the all caps on my chart, SCARED!!! She smiled a knowing smile and asked me the one thing that scared me the most. I said, Please don't scold me for not flossing. I confess, I don't floss, don't yell at me.....She laughed, but I wasnt' joking. She promised not to yell. From that minute on, I relaxed. I noticed things have changed in the dental world, since last I was there....and then some things were the same. I still had to sit for a LONG time and I still had to wear the stupid blue bib, but this time the bib was supplemented with a towel, better for soaking up drool, I suspected. The sounds were still disturbing, but they were all accompanied by an explanation, which made them less scary. The puppy posters were replaced with TVs!! What? I got to sit in the chair, wear headphones, hold a remote and watch whatever I wanted on TV?!!! Cool! No small talk, no hearing myself loud breath through my mouth? This was definately different. The awkward plastic things I had to bite on for my x-rays were smaller, less intrusive and the spinning camera didnt' require my head to be squeezed quite so hard. The hygenist asked me to raise my hand or grunt when I was uncomfortable and she'd leave that area alone for a while.
When the dentist came in to check things over, he didn't touch my shoes. He looked me in the eye, told me I still had NO cavities and to keep brushing!
I spent 2 hours in the dentist office today. I didn't get fluoride or even a polish. I gotta go back next week to finish my treatment as there is still too much scaling to do. I guess years of NOT having my teeth cleaned has left quite a mess. But I am going to go back. I am not scared anymore and fluoride will be optional :)