Posted by: Kate | June 16, 2008

Non Compos Dentist

Well, as predicted, I survived, somewhat low on dignity but otherwise intact.

The hygienist did a wonderful job, which is to say that Willem did a wonderful job pulling her aside and ‘splaining things a bit, and she listened. She was efficient, minimal on chat, and respectful. She never batted an eye when, given the opportunity to pace a bit while waiting for the dentist, I grabbed a small plastic moose out of the children’s rewards bucket and used it as a worry-stone of sorts (I used to dig my fingernails into my palms until I bled, so really anything is an improvement). She even let me bring the moose home.


I do have a few cavities, but they’ve written me a referral for a gentleman down near Hampton who will put me under general anesthesia for all dental work. Bless his heart and sign me up.

Now I’m just overtired and feel like a piece of elastic stretched beyond capacity, so I’m just limp and pathetic. But I’m limp and pathetic on my own couch, so that’s worth something right there.

And I’m irritated. At myself, for being so illogical and weird about it all. At well-meaning friends and family who try to convince me, “It’s not that bad,” as though those four words will suddenly erase all of my complicated fears. At myself, again, for getting so revved up about something so small and unimportant in life; my loved ones are healthy, my home is still standing, I remain employed, and yet I freak out about going to the dentist? Stupid, in my head, but the emotions whisper and scream otherwise.


Whatever. I’ll sleep it off and return to my regularly scheduled life tomorrow.


  1. You shouldn’t berate yourself for feeling this way about the dentist. There are many people who feel the same way, logical or not. Going to the dentist sucks for so many reasons. It’s not meant to be a pleasant experience. It’s one of those necessary evil things. The best thing you can do is make sure you like your dentist. That can make all the difference in the amount of stress you have with the experience.

    You should be proud of yourself for making yourself go and getting through it. Not having a mouth full of rotted-out teeth is worth it.

  2. This is not small. I’ve never lived thru what you have and I hate the dentist too. I haven’t been for years. You have legitimate reasons to feel the way you do. Some of us are just chicken-poops.

  3. It helps to have something to hold on to. Great job on going to the dentist — you’re not letting your fear keep you from taking care of yourself.

  4. Kate-

    I read your other linked post too… and, can see why a “simple” trip to the dentist would be near unbearable for you. I never would have made the association – but, after reading your other saddening and explicit post, can see how the dentist visit certainly could be a trigger. I mean, going to the dentist is never fun, no… (I don’t even like to scrape my fork on my teeth for crying out loud. Matter of fact, I don’t even like it when OTHER people scrape their forks on their teeth!) – but, your feelings and reactions are a valid response to a very traumatic and terrible thing you lived through. Not at all the normal dentist horror stories we love to tell…

    I give you credit for going at all… and I think you should take the moose and your family out to a victory dinner. What a great example you’re setting for your children… self-care… and conquering fears. Good stuff.

    Take care,

  5. SO happy for you. That’s awesome!

  6. Kate~give yourself a break. PTSD is not something one can cure in a week. More people fear dentists more than doctors and heights. It may be irrational but that does not make it unworthy as a stressor and legitimate feeling.


  7. nice moose.

    ( on second thought, is that something i am now old enough to compliment my sister on? :P)

  8. I would rather have a colonoscopy prep than go to the dentist. And believe me, I’ve been around both blocks more than I care to. I have TMJ, so dental visits are just horrid. Haven’t been in years because a dentist was charging me extra for taking too much time (she had to give me time to relax my jaw and so it took longer to fill my cavities). I never went back, and now after two root canals I still need like two more. I found a really great dentisit (who doesn’t charge extra) but having any work done still leaves my jaw in an awful condition and me on a liquid diet – soft food diet for a week or longer. Dental visits are HIGH anxiety times. MAJOR STRESS. Cute moose. 🙂

  9. I had braces as a child and, after the braces were removed, I had some significant cavities underneath a lot of the metal. As a very young child, I’d seen someone take their teeth out and put them on the night stand and it left an impression on me. So, once I got the braces off, I made a conscious decision that I was going to take great care of my teeth so I could keep them because I didn’t want to have a set of removable teeth. YUCK! I found an outstanding dentist eons ago – Dr. Cherilyn Sheets – and she’s been incredible in taking care of my oral health. Going to a dentist is not my most favorite activity, but keeping my own teeth is an important goal. Besides, medical science has finally caught with the fact that people with bad oral health are allowing their bloody and damaged gums to become breeding grounds for bacteria and portals to the body for that bacteria to enter and wreak damage – like attacking the heart. Soooooo, good oral health is a big deal. Viva la dentista!


  10. You’re not alone…

    Many people rank “fear of dental care” equal to fear of snakes, fear of heights, and even fear of death.

  11. […] Bites. Who Knew? So, yeah, that wicked dental phobia? In full force, as of 4:43 in the […]

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