Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Question: What time is your dentist appointment?
That was a joke I once saw in a kid magazine.
My "tooth hurty" has been increasing the past week--the medication didn't work, and I went for a root canal last evening but the dentist postponed it because the tooth's too infected. So he put me on a bout of antibiotics first.
I've had root canals in the past and contrary to the horror stories I've heard about excrutiating, mind-shattering pain, they all went smoothly and I didn't feel anything. My current dentist couldn't guarantee that that would be the case this time. It's DEEP, he said, referring to where he'd have to go waaaaayyyyy down inside to drill. And apparently getting mildly gassed with nitrous oxide into Happy Land isn't an option. My dentist doesn't offer it.
I went home and googled what actually happens when you have a root canal. I wish I hadn't done that. "Sometimes it doesn't work", disastrous personal horror stories, and hints of what could go wrong and often does, plus nerve-jangling graphics of the entire procedure down to the last tiny detail, managed to instill permanent images in my mind (serves me right) that I can't now erase and which interfere with the calm reassurance coming from my mate that "It'll be okay. You'll be FINE. Stop thinking about it."
I know where this came from--this extreme reluctance to enter a dental office. In our small town when I was growing up there was only one dentist for the entire town--Dr. Carlson. Ask anybody who ever went to him and you will get the same reaction: a pained expression and a sudden case of the shivers. He was the dentist from Hell. Cruel, sadistic and downright horrible, he had no patience for fearful, squirming children. I heard that he actually slapped a child across the face once, telling him to sit still and stop being such a wimp. He instilled in two generations of children-now-adults the terror of all things dental. What a legacy.
In any case, my day of imagined pain has been postponed, till the antibotics run their course. Then a root canal will be attempted, and if it isn't do-able (apparently it's a "difficult" one), the dentist will just take out the tooth.
I just want it all to be over -- like, yesterday.