Confessions of a Denta-phobe

When I was a kid I hated going to the dentist. We lived in a small town and I think there were two dentists to choose from back in the 1970’s. The one that was on the side of town where we lived had his practice at his home. My pediatrician actually had his office at his home, too. Anyway, the dentist was this middle aged dude with a military haircut and he always wore white. Then he got a divorce. And he got a cute red-headed assistant. And he let his hair grow out – way out. He took to wearing loud print shirts, unbuttoned halfway down his hairy chest and he started wearing lots of gold necklaces and medallions. He also started filling every tooth in every kid’s head. Including mine. He also had a habit of “accidentally” dropping his instruments on us while we were laying back in the chairs. One year I had twenty-one cavities. At least that was what he said I had, and that’s how many fillings he put in and charged for.

I stopped going to the dentist as soon as I was old enough to make that decision.

I probably don’t need to explain what happens over time when you stop going to the dentist, right?

When I was about forty I needed NINE teeth PULLED. Nine. All those old fillings were starting to come out, and the teeth were breaking. So I bit the bullet and had them pulled. I had to be sedated just to have the x-rays done because I would have gotten hysterical otherwise.

Any time I’ve had to go to the dentist I’ve needed tranqualizers and friends who could take me and keep me from running out the door, screaming.

Until now. Last year I had a rotten toothache. My boss gave me the number of a dentist he’s been using for a long time – they go to church together. My supervisor made the appointment for me AND drove me there. My husband met us at the dentist office and came in with me to hold my hand and keep me from bolting. The tooth was broken and nothing was going to save it. There was very little to grab onto an the roots were growing in weird directions so the extraction was going to be complicated. They offered to make an appointment for me with an oral surgeon who could knock me out for the procedure. I told them it had taken too much for me to get myself into THAT chair and if I got OUT of that chair I would never be able to get myself into another one. So Doctor Jenna and I spent the next two hours together getting that tooth out. Yes. Two hours. She gently worked it this way and that way, back and forth, trying not to break anything and finally she got it out. My jaw was killing me but it was out. I had survived. But I wasn’t going back any time soon!

A whole year later I had another toothache. So, I had my supervisor make me another appointment, and my friend Lisa took me. This time I didn’t need an extraction, I needed a crown, which is a three visit procedure. I did the second and third visit by myself. My dentist and her assistant, Meghan are THAT GOOD. They laugh, they go slowly and explain everything, they stop to check that I’m doing okay, they’re amazing. And best of all they are a Christian practice and don’t mind praying with me before they start if I’m nervous.

Yesterday I got a filling done. I faced the drill without any escorts. I actually looked forward to the appointment!

The moral of my story is that I totally get it if you’re afraid of dentists. I understand completely. But keep trying! Keep looking for that magic dental match, you will not be sorry! If you’re in Cleveland or Gaston County in North Carolina, give Doctor Stover a call – and tell them Tracy sent you!

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