Few things in life can bring as much dread as the idea of visiting the dentist. My teeth phobia doesn’t help either. I’ve had the strangest dreams where my teeth all start falling out. I’m sitting eating spaghetti and then chomp down on something hard and it’s a tooth. And then there’s another and two more. Or the situation changes where I’m just talking to someone and then one, two, four teeth just start coming out. It isn’t painful, but I wake up completely freaked out. So going to the dentist, even just for my six-month cleaning, increases my anxiety.
The experience today was typical. However, I noticed how off the wall some of my thinking can get when at the dentist. For example, the chair is comfortable, but in my prone position it is so awkward. Staring at the ceiling that is bare seems a huge oversight by the designers. I suggest some calming images for meditation purposes. You can pretend to be elsewhere while a lady is all up in your grill, literally. For kids, you can’t go wrong with Disney. If the dentist wants to be adventurous, a television where the patient can pick the channel. The hygienist would just be careful not to get in the way. Of course, a television mount of the highest caliber would be necessary for death by tv while at the dentist would just be a humiliating way to go.
I also suggest a liberal coating of Chapstick or an equivalent for the lips. Nothing dries mine out faster than going ahhhh for minutes at a time. It would also aid the hygienist while slipping and sliding around the mouth to have a nice glide along the lips instead of rough friction because of the dryness.
Then there is the issue of the tongue. I feel there should be some training on what to do with it while fingers and various tools are all clambering for space. Space that rightfully belongs to the tongue. Food gets a moment or two inside but then it goes on its merry way done the esophagus, so the tongue isn’t confused on what to do or where to be with such a visitor. But at the dentist, the tongue is introduced to begrudgingly accepted guests that stick around for way too long. I go with the avoidance tactic. My tongue treats the invaders as if they have the plague and races around my mouth to stay as far away as possible, but there is only so far one can go to get away in there.
Without proper training, I’m wondering how other people deal with this situation. Can one just have the tongue pressed along the bottom of the mouth the whole time come what may? Is my tactic acceptable? Am I offending my hygienist and she’s just too polite to point it out? Are there other options I haven’t considered? I wonder if anyone has ever licked her finger before? Oh, how gross! Perverted anyway. Who licks some stranger’s finger? But there are all kinds in this world, and I bet someone has licked a hygienist’s fingers before while doing his/her job.
Then I started to take pity on my hygienist. What I must look like from her point of view! I really hope my breath was okay. I did a wet toothbrush run through before going but didn’t want to be obvious by using toothpaste or mouthwash. Why do I feel like that would be cheating? To only be able to talk to people while you’re not doing your job must get frustrating. For when you’re working, they can’t talk back.
Time is relative in a dentist’s chair and though it felt like forever, it was relatively short. I was asked my favorite color, purple (duh), and given a purple toothbrush, a trial size of toothpaste, a trial size of floss, and an appointment approximately six months from now. The supplies won’t last me till we meet again, but it’s nice that they try. The hygienist said in farewell, “See you later.” Hopefully, later will be six months.