Why Do You Fear the Dentist?

The last eight days of my life have been spent in bed or walking around like a zombie because of pain killers.  What could make me feel this way?  Teeth.

Three weeks ago I went in to have my teeth cleaned and to have a total exam because I hadn’t been in in two years.  I knew I needed extensive work done so I braced myself for the news once the dentist had time to review my xrays.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I originally thought!  Sweet!  He said I was going to need three crowns, 1 filling and an extraction.  I can handle that!  I went ahead and made an appointment to have it all done the two weeks from then.

Lets fast forward to the day of my appointment.  Oh and let’s also back up at the same time for me to explain that I have a HORRIBLE fear of all things dental work.  I hate the pain associated with it. I hate the vibration feeling in my mouth.  Do I have to talk about all of the complications I have dealt with regarding dental work?  I can’t stand to hear dental work being done and I don’t like the smell of the office.  I’d rather not even drive past the dentist office.  When I was little bitty (four or five probably)  I was getting a filling from a dentist who didn’t care for kids.  No compassion was in this man’s body I don’t think.  He begins working and I start screaming because I could feel everything he was doing.  Everything.  I begged him to stop and he told me to shut up.  This was far enough ago that parents weren’t allowed in the waiting room.  I am not sure it would have done any good though because when I got out to the waiting room, my mom commented that she could hear me “giving the dentist a hard time.”  She heard me and didn’t even do anything to help.  I could tell you about my first extraction when I was in 6th grade.  How the dentist, a different one than before, accidently hit a nerve when he was giving me the Novocain shot which resulted in my very first migraine headache.  Once I got out on my own I learned there was something called laughing gas.  It could be administered during your visit to help to chill your nerves and make the dental work a little easier.  Where do I sign up??   I was hooked!  Cleanings, procedures…Gas please!

Everything was wonderful on gas until the day in 2008 when I went in for a root canal and used gas.  Actually the gas wasn’t the problem.  The fact that it slowed my thought process down enough for me to forget to tell the endodontist that I needed double shots to dumb me, that one dos isn’t enough.  You know how they give you the shot and then let you sit for 10-15 minutes while it kicks in?  On gas, that’s when my brain decides it’s time to take a quick nap.  I didn’t realize I hadn’t told the dentist until he was working that I hadn’t informed him of my need for an extra dos.  So picture this:  His hands and instruments are in my mouth, my brain realizes something’s wrong but I can’t get my thoughts straightened out until it was too late.  All of a sudden he begins drilling out the nerve in the tooth he was working in and my body responded without me even having to think about it.  My knees shot up to my chest and I assumed a fetal position right there in the chair.  Apparently they had a cart rolled up beside the chair that also went over my body.  On that cart was a tray of all of the instruments needed to do a root canal.  Are you following what happened as my knees shot up?  Yep, the tray with little instruments went everywhere!  The dentist begins yelling, the assistant is scurrying around trying to find the instruments and opening a new instrument kit, all the while I am freaking out because, again my brain is about 30 seconds behind reality.  I apologized and then began breathing VERY deeply to try to calm myself down.  During that visit I learned a very valuable lesson.  NEVER do that when you are hooked to laughing gas.  It will make you sick.  I began to feel like I was going to throw up.  I am trying to tell everyone this inevitable act is about to happen and thankfully they understood me. I was sat up, mask of gas taken off of my mouth and I proceed to throw up everything I had had for a week.  There’s more to the story but that should paint a pretty big picture of how things went.

After that, I had a few things done but my anxiety about the dentist was at such a high that I barely went in for cleanings.  I found a pediatric dentist who would give gas during cleanings and advertised to “cater to cowards.”  Great!  That brings us to the time I started telling at the beginning.  My husband took out a flex spending account last year because of the amount of work I need to get done to my poor mouth and we realized we only had like three weeks to get those funds used or we’d use it.  The dentist I had been going to didn’t have the available appointment slots to get the work done that I needed so I contacted a local dentist.  They were able to get me in right away for a consultation and cleaning so that was good.  However…they don’t have gas.  I literally cried when I realized I was going to have to do it without gas.  I told them from the first visit (consultation) about my fear of dental work and they assured me they would look me up with sedatives to make it easier for me.  As scared as I was to trust them, I agreed because, well I only had a limited amount of time to get the work done and they had the openings to do it.

The consultation goes great.  Xrays showed that my teeth weren’t as bad as I had thought and that several of my teeth were actually able to be saved!  We all agreed I should first get my teeth cleaned and then schedule a time to have the rest of the work done.  Sweet!  Three crowns, 1 filling and one tooth that just needed pulled would all be done in one shot.  They prescribed anxiety meds for me to take before the cleaning.  Unfortunately they didn’t kick in until an hour after my appointment.  When they did kick in everything was GREAT…for me!  I don’t remember the rest of the day!  My family has stories they could tell about how I acted on that medication, but thankfully they don’t have my blog password!  The plan for the day of the procedure was for me to take this same medication so needless to say I met with them and had them tweak things a bit so I would be out for the procedures, not just afterward.  They were so good to work with me and accommodate my fears.

The procedure comes and goes.  I remember hearing things during the procedure but it was almost as if I were dreaming.  I don’t remember whole conversations just bits and pieces.  For example:  “This tooth isn’t salvageable like we thought.” “Trauma,”  “This tooth is making me earn my keep today!”  “blood pressure,”  “IV,” “we are getting close to the half life [of the drugs].”  Because I wasn’t really thinking none of these comments bothered me at all.  Until afterwards when I started asking questions.  Apparently the two extractions didn’t go as planned.  Instead of my appointment taking an hour and a half (the half life of the drugs), it took two and a half hours.  Apparently the medication relaxed me so much that my blood pressure dropped quickly, forcing them to have to start an IV in my arm to bring it back up.  When I got home, I went straight to bed.  I woke up with an ear ache that hurt so bad I couldn’t even cry. My jaw hurt like I had been hit with a sledge hammer, my head was killing me!  This song and dance went on until Friday.  I was hurting so bad my hands, arms and legs were shaking.  Not only that I was having trouble breathing.  Friday morning I called the dentist and requested to be seen.  The soonest “work in” appointment was at 10:30.  I broke down in tears to the woman on the phone and begged to be seen sooner but it didn’t work.  I went in a half hour early and was sitting in the waiting room when one of the two dentist there the day of the procedure walked by and tried to wave and joke with me but then saw the tears streaming down my face. I was taken back to a private room right away to be seen.  They were so good to make me comfortable and to reassure me.  They called in antibiotics and stronger pain meds because the prescription I had been given wasn’t touching the pain at all but was making me sick to my stomach.  I stopped taking it all together.  The conclusion was that I had two cases of dry socket and a secondary infection.  They told me I could call the emergency line anytime over the weekend if I needed anything else.  Not wanting to bother anyone, I waited until Monday to call.  The pain was significantly better but I could tell it wasn’t all the way fixed.  Once again they packed the back socket with the antibiotic gel stuff.  Yesterday was great!  I didn’t have to take any pain meds at all!  Today is Tuesday, one week after the original procedure and one day after the second packing.  I have been very uncomfortable and had to take pain meds again today.  I was told if this second packing didn’t work, we would have to make an appointment to have my socket “scraped” which I’m told jump starts my body into the healing process.

I am still on a soft/liquid diet.  I am ready to eat but most of all, I’m ready for the pain to go away.  I want to get outside and run again.  I long to be able to get up and go about my day without having to take pills just to get through.

Will you pray for me please?  Also pray blessings for the families who have sacrificed to bring my family dinner and for those who have brought shakes and protein powder for me to have during this time.  I feel so love and grateful for all of you!


PS:  I am not going back to proofread this because it’s time for another pain pill.  I just don’t have it in me so hopefully my thoughts aren’t clouded by horrible grammar and spelling errors!


One thought on “Why Do You Fear the Dentist?

  1. Pingback: I’d Rather Have Crowns in Heaven than Crowns in My Mouth | Seriously Outnumbered

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