I have terrible, terrible teeth. Every single dentist I have ever met has said the following to me. “Wow! You brush really well!” And has instantly followed that with “Uh oh, I see a cavity here, and here, and, oh, here.” Yes, that’s right. I have never been to the dentist, ever, and been told that everything looked good. Never.
Regular, obsessive tooth brushing, flossing, frequent mouth washing… nothing seems to win the fight with the acidity that eats away at my teeth. And so, I dread going to the dentist’s. I’ve dreaded going ever since I was a young child and the never ending cycle of visits that turn into drilling routine started.
On one memorable afternoon, my childhood dentist did not give me quite enough Novocain and started picking away at my teeth before I was completely numb. I did what any normal 7 year old would do when a man with his fat fingers inside her mouth starts hurting her. I bit down. Hard. And I didn’t let go. Not until he slapped me across the face. (In his defense I wasn’t letting go and I was biting so hard that he wasn’t able to work for three days.)
This morning C face planted in the hallway because she was goofing off and running around on the hardwood floor in her socks. It took a while for the blood to stop pouring out of her mouth, and when it did I saw that all her teeth were in place, but that the gums above her two front teeth were still oozing blood. I wasn’t too worried, but I figured that I’d edge on the side of caution and take her to the dentist anyway*.
I spent the morning fighting pre-dentist visit anxiety and reminding myself that I wasn’t the one who was going under the light. It wasn’t easy. On the way to the dentist I fought the urge to tell C that she had to be brave.
I needn’t have worried. C was a trouper, but then again, if I’d had a flat screen TV on the ceiling of my dentist’s office that played Disney movies, earphones to block out scary sounds, funky sunglasses to ease the glare of the big light, and the promise of an overflowing toy chest to chose from when I was a kid, maybe I would have weathered my visits as well as she did.
* C is fine. She might have torn a tooth ligament, but the root of the tooth is fine. She’s not even sore any more. We’re going back in 6 weeks to double check that everything is healing nicely. She can’t wait, she already knows what toy she’s going to pick out of the toy chest.