I don’t think I’m an overly phobic person. Although some may deny it, everyone has at least one thing that they are petrified of. Yes, some of my phobias are peculiar: It’s not every day you see a grown woman being chased around her kitchen by her husband while he’s holding a pressurized biscuit can out toward her (I still believe that those things could mutilate you). Some people also find my screeching aversion to touching raw meat to be a bit...out there, but it’s gross and that’s that.
Well, I am proud to report that I have one more phobia that is actually shared with a large section of the population: Dentists.
I have a small mouth. Yes, yes go ahead. Laugh and make your smart-assed commentary. My ability to talk aside, my mouth is literally and physically very small. There wasn’t all that much room for my baby teeth and my adult teeth were looking to be even more cramped. What to do?
Well, one would hope that the practice of pulling perfectly healthy teeth out of one’s head would have gone the way of leeches and bleeding in the world of medical science, but alas ‘tis not the case: I only lost one baby tooth naturally and the rest were ripped out of my head. Furthermore, three or four adult teeth went right after them.
The first time I had a tooth pulled wasn’t all that bad. Of course, I was so young that I’m not even sure that I knew what I was going to the Dentist for, but they also gave me a snoot full of that silly gas, so I didn’t particularly care what I was there for. The Dentist did the deed, packed my mouth full of gauze and let me pick out a toy from the little treasure chest he kept by the receptionist’s desk. I was on my way and, other than being pretty grossed out by the gauze, I was cool.
Of course, I also thought that the extraction was a one-time deal. Ha.
After the first time, the dentist gave me those Novocain shots that he jokingly called “a little bee sting.” Uh-huh. Well, maybe if the bee was the size of Godzilla and in a really bad mood. I don’t know why, but he never gave me the silly gas again. Over the years, I’ve come to believe that the gas helped me have just the right amount of apathy for the situation, but noooooooooooooo, I had to know what was going on and feel the tugs and see the blood. My dentist (a former Chapel Hill football player) also liked to give play-by-play analysis.
The situation deteriorated to the point that my parents had to resort to trickery to get me to the dentist. I should have known that something was amiss when I woke up in the morning to Mom telling me that I didn’t have to go to school for the day. Dad would usually come in from work either mid-morning or during lunch and they would corner me. I would be two or three teeth lighter by nighttime.
The last time I got my teeth pulled, they pulled the permanent teeth. There is a reason that those teeth are called permanent: They mean to stay in your head. It was horrible. I whimpered a touch too much during the process whereupon my dentist admonished me for not being a “well behaved little lady.” I should have bitten his damn fingers off.
My bad dental luck didn’t cease with the last of the teeth to leave my mouth. Oh no. I had to have braces and the braces caused me to have to endure a root canal. By the time my tooth was fixed and the orthodontic hardware was removed, I was a complete dental basket case. I stressed out over routine cleanings and canceled and rescheduled them over and over again. To this very day, my office knows to steer extremely clear of me on the days when I have to go in for my dental cleanings.
When I was in high school, I had a problem with my jaw popping and I went to see an oral surgeon who was a friend of the family. He checked me out, told me I was fine and then stood at the door and refused to let me out until I made an appointment to get my wisdom teeth removed. Furthermore, when I was in law school, I had a problem with grinding my teeth at night, so I drove down to Wilmington to see the surgeon that performed my root canal. I was so worked up and freaked out that he made me lie down on the couch in his office because he thought I was going to faint. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.
It is documented fact that, if I meet dentists in social settings, I automatically—and subconsciously—back several steps away from them. I guess that some part of my brain is convinced that they are going to put down their glass of merlot and go for my bicuspids.
Now, I have a whole new facet that I get to add to my already well-rounded fear of dentists: Baby Belle 1. My poor little pumpkin inherited Mama’s small mouth (okay, really, you can shut up now), she has a cross bite and she is missing a couple of permanent teeth. Of course, the old sawbones wants to have at her and start pullin’. You can tell me that it’s for her own good and all of that other shit until you’re blue in the face, but my first instinct is to grab her, run and hide.
The one time I took her to the dentist, I ended up sobbing in the car after I dropped her off at school. Yeah...I’m thinking maybe Scott should handle the dental stuff...