December 9, 2009

668 words 4 mins read

Dentist really isn't all that bad

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the dentist office. It wasn’t a regularly scheduled checkup; I was having some pain with a tooth. After some tinkering, they figured that I probably just bruised myself. I enjoyed myself so much that I signed up to go twice more over the next week. Ok, so maybe I didn’t “enjoy” it, but they found some locations of concern and wanted to do a little drilling. Of course they couldn’t do it in one sitting, hence the two appointments.

When I was young, I was drilled on and it was a very unfavorable experience. Once they even threatened to pull a stubborn baby tooth that wasn’t getting out. One of the worsts cases was when they dumped way too much nitrous in me and I freaked out; I’ve not touched nitrous since then.

Dentists tend to have a bad rap and not too many people enjoy going. Mostly I think it is because of these experiences we all have as a child.

Well I wasn’t looking forward to going in for more drilling, but I’ve been drilled on as an adult before and I don’t remember it being that terrible. So off I went, and after two separate drilling incidents, I’ve gotta say that it really isn’t that bad. Much like root canals, people seem to think it is worse than it really is.

Both of my appointments were fairly similar. I sit down and get prepped. First they apply a topical antiseptic which does an ok job. Next they gave me a small shot of Novocaine. This first was probably the “worst” since I could feel it the most. After a minute they go back in and give me a few injections. I must say, I’m not a big fan of needles (another stigma from when I was a child), so I generally just look away or close my eyes while they do it. It feels like someone pushing really hard on my gums, but it doesn’t hurt. After a bit they get to the drilling. I’ve been told by a number of people that they really don’t like the high pitch whine of the drills. I’d have to agree that it put me on edge when the drills aren’t being used on me. Again, I think this is something held over from childhood — sitting there waiting — terrified as a chibi — hearing the drills — knowing you could be next.

After maybe 20 minutes (not that I was really paying attention), they’ve drilled everything out, filled it back up and patched me up. I feel like a chipmunk for many hours afterward, but generally no worse for the wear. After the Novocaine starts to wear off my jaw starts to feel a little sore, but that has more to do with my jaw being jammed open (I have a small mouth) than any of the work they did. That night and the next day, the most pain I have is in the back of my jaw when I yawn, and those are from the injection sites.

Overall, is the event in anyway overly painful?

No, not at all… but for some completely illogical reason I’m still a little scared of the dentist and drilling.

The “moral of the story” is that I think we need a better way to do dentistry for children. I can remember vividly, even 15+ years later, how much going to the dentist scared me as a child, and how much I hated it. Hell, I managed to avoid going for 9 full years (starting from late high school). These impressions you get as a child last with you your entire life and it takes a lot of work to get over. I know some people are so “scared” by dental work that they go to offices that do general (IE put you to sleep) anesthesia. Even a double root canal isn’t that bad, and I’d know, I’ve been there and done that.