By Megan Wirts
There was a brief time in my life when I thought I wanted to be a dentist.
Not because I have a love for oral hygiene or anything, but because I loved going to the dentist. Then I realized that being a dentist meant putting your hands in other people’s mouths and the thought of doing that made me physically ill.
I have been very lucky to have some awesome dentists over the years. When I was a little girl, I thought my dentist was a super hero. He was extremely tall and wore cowboy boots. He had a quiet voice and always made me laugh. He made the whole experience fun and never scary. I did need to have some teeth pulled once due to overcrowding, but he gave me happy gas and little girl me was floating away on a hot air balloon with Winnie the Pooh. It. Was. Awesome. My love for going to the dentist also was helped by the fact that I never had any cavities.
That’s right. Never. Not one. I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with my less than perfect teeth cleaning regimen. I do floss, when I remember, and I do brush my pearly whites every single day, but I don’t do anything special. I’m just lucky or I have excellent tooth genes. I was hoping to pass those genes on to both of my children, but it turns out only one of them was blessed like me. My son, who hasn’t had a cavity in quite some time now, confessed to me that he sometimes doesn’t even brush his teeth when I tell him to. Little turd. Then there is his older sister who brushes her teeth like her life depends on it and she had three cavities at her last visit! Life is just not fair.
For the most part, I have always gone to my regular 6-month cleaning appointment like clockwork. Until a couple of years ago when my health took a crap and I put my oral hygiene on the back burner. I was a little preoccupied with having brain surgery, being diagnosed with a disabling disorder, raising my kids and trying to keep my sanity through it all. I just didn’t have time to go get my teeth cleaned, but honestly, I didn’t want to go because I was terrified.
My once great love for the dentist had turned into great fear. The disorder that I have, dystonia, causes me to have uncontrollable muscle spasms all over my body, including my face. Imagine having all those pointy, sharp tools close to very sensitive skin and your face starts twitching and your head starts to wobble and suddenly you are being stabbed in the gums!! Not cool, not cool!
On top of the muscle spasms I also experience excruciating pain on the right side of my face and in my teeth. Sometimes it will feel like there are electric currents shocking my teeth and my chin will feel like it’s on fire. Other times it feels like someone has pummeled me across the cheek over and over again. To say that I was nervous about going to the dentist, was an understatement.
Over two years had gone by since my last appointment and I knew I had to go back. I also had to schedule my kids for their 6-month check-ups, so I figured this was my chance. I needed to face my fear and make sure that my teeth were not rotting out of my head. As I sat there in the waiting room, worrying about the pain I was going to feel and if the hygienist was going to notice that I was in desperate need of a mustache wax, my name was called. It was time.
I explained my worries to my hygienist and away we went. I opened wide, closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. Thankfully, my hygienist was patient and thoughtful, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. That doesn’t mean I didn’t look like I had just run a mile from all the anxiety sweating I did, but I survived. Then my dentist did his checking, told me all about the horrors of oral cancer (It’s bad news guys!) and that I was still cavity free.
I did it, I faced my fears! I didn’t get stabbed in the gums by one of those pointy things and it looks like I will be one of those old ladies bragging about how I still have all my own teeth when I’m in my 90’s.
See you in 6 months Doc!
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