Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Visit to the Dentist

My track record with going to the dentist isn't all that wonderful. I had the regular visits in primary school and then in the next 20 years (gee, is it really that long since I left primary school?) I went once, for a filling in a tooth that was hurting.

Last year I decided enough was enough so I made myself go for a check-up when DH went for his. Unfortunately the timing wasn't real great and I ended up visiting the dentist around the same time as I had my nervous breakdown. In fact, going to the dentist was the last thing I managed to do before completely hitting rock bottom. Poor dentist, it wasn't his fault. I ended up in tears despite him being very kind.

I did learn one thing though. Being afraid to go to the dentist is quite a common problem. My dentist was able to give me quite a number of treatment options in regard to my anxiety. The first of which was a Penthrox inhaler which has some kind of relaxant in it. I'm figuring if there are so many options available then it can't be just me that struggles with anxiety at the dentist.

Unfortunately my recovery from the nervous breakdown and dealing with other issues in my life has made my recovery slower than we expected and so my first treatment appointment had to be postponed several times until yet another year had flown past.

Well, finally, yesterday, I managed to go!!!! This was a HUGE milestone for me and a sign that I really am well on the road to recovery. I did use the Penthrox inhaler and it definitely helped me to relax.

While I was there I was thinking about why I'm so terrified of dentists. During the last 3 years of primary school we had the school dentist at the school we attended so when we were due a check up or needed treatment they would come and get us from class. The school dentist was very distant and quite scary and his nurse was never very nice to us. I don't know if I was unlucky with my school dentist or whether dental practices in general have improved. I know that I'm thankful to now have a very kind, caring and gentle dentist. I remember my last visit to the school dentist quite clearly. I have a very crowded mouth and most of my baby teeth had to be pulled by the dentist in order to allow enough room for my adult teeth to come through. Eventually they had to pull 4 adult teeth to help make room in my mouth (and it's still crowded). On my last visit to the school dentist I had 4 teeth pulled and then was sent back to class and expected to walk home! Thankfully it was near the end of the day and my teacher took pity on me and drove me home when school finished. To make matters worse, the dentist was treating 2 patients at the same time so he administered the anaesthetic to my mouth and was longer than expected returning (nearly an hour). Ouch! I certainly wasn't in any hurry to get back in that dentists chair.

So, if you're like me and hate visits to the dentist - consider talking to your dentist about options like the Penthrox inhaler. It cost me $40 but it sure was a $40 well spent!

Who else prefers to procrastinate when it comes to going to the dentist? Anyone else need to bite the bullet and just go?


Kez said...

Um, I honestly cannot remember the last time I went to the dentist - it had to be in primary school. I'm certainly not keen to go! I have a dreadful gag reflex - maybe options like the inhaler will work for me too. Great to know there are things I can do!

And well done you for going!!!

emma said...

Hi Jodi,

Good on you! I'm scared - but of the bill, not the dentist lol. I know my teeth need some work but it's just going to have to wait a while, maybe in a few years. :)


WendyC said...

Emma, the cost to your health might not make waiting worthwhile! Can you go public?

lightening said...

Kerrie - other than an emergency filling done just after I got married, I too hadn't been to a dentist since I left primary school. Find a dentist and just go and have a chat with them about the gag reflex issue. I think there have been a LOT of changes to dentistry since we were kids and a lot of dentists seem to be very understanding. If you don't get along any good, try another dentist - like all things there are good and better ones (and maybe a few not so good ones as well).

Emma - I can totally understand the whole money issue. That's 1 of the reasons mine got put off for so long. Firstly by my parents who didn't have any spare money and so never took me. Then by myself for the same reasons (added to my phobia). The only problem is that waiting can be soooo expensive. For instance, most of my fillings are just over $100 to do. A root canal (which I'm assuming is what you need if the filling gets too deep but don't actually know that) costs more like $1000. You must have pretty good teeth though to get away with not seeing a dentist. My DH goes from cavity to tooth falling out in a very short space of time whereas I've had fillings that have needed doing for over a decade (according to my dentist when he did my 1 emergency filling - that one was hurting) and they're still not considered "deep" fillings.

emma said...

There is emergency dentistry available, but I'm not in pain from my teeth. I went about a year ago when my jaw was hurting and the dentist told me I needed an extraction and a few fillings, plus a scale and clean to help with some gum disease, but only two fillings would be covered so he did those. The dentist I saw a year ago was the first dentist I've seen since primary, but I didn't have any fillings as a kid.

lightening said...

You can only do what you can do
Emma and try not to sweat about the rest. It's a good sign usually if you haven't been in any pain.