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Maybe I should keep this question to myself. No, I cannot help it. It must be asked.

Do you trust your dentist?

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Opening one’s mouth for any procedure is inevitably a grand question of trust. What if the dentist sneezes mid-way while grasping your new crown, or a root canal file, and the surprise causes the object to be dropped down your windpipe? Plop! it goes into your lung. Now what?! What if they drill too far up and the drill bit comes up for air in one of your sinus cavities? These are the gory scenarios which send my active imagination careening in zigzag circles under the all-too-bright overhead lamp. By the time the dentist is finished, I need a stiff drink and a hot shower. Half of a Valium tablet, perhaps? I usually drench my clothes with terror-perspiration during the procedure. The visibly damp backside of the gentleman just finished left me feeling  that my strong emotions rang true. My terror state had been vindicated. I especially appreciated the look of commiseration and comprehension  he gave me on his way out. The hefty realization that he had been released from all potential dental danger had fogged his mind to the point that he opened a closet door instead of the one clearly marked EXIT.  “Be sure to avoid biting down on that tooth for a few days.”Out on parole until the next appointment.  No, you are not reading even a speck of “Schadenfreude” into this. None; I assure you.

Despite the fact that my sister is married to a fine dentist and she herself a fine dental hygienist, going out of their respective ways to explain procedures to me ..I snivel and sigh before each appointment outside of yearly routine check-ups. Yet with the root canal this time, I was clearly beside myself.

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Quite a feat! I do my very, very best to rationalize my feeling of impending doom. After all, I have had two Caesarean sections and my gall bladder removed! So why the nervous tears and the boulder in the stomach?  The answer to this question came to me in a vision as I sat in my car collecting myself after the root canal. Deep breathing exercises prior to sliding the key into the ignition brought enlightenment. Control. I have a control issue. At certain times I am incapable of relinquishing the driver’s seat to anyone but three others : me, myself and I. You get the drift. But, how inane could I be?! It is not me who went to dental school and who has learned and practiced the art of wielding all of those well-balanced oral instruments. My history and Germanic languages degree won’t even come close to cutting this kind of mustard.  Enlightenment and acceptance of my limits (ha!ha!).  I will recall this resolution the next time my lovely and competent dentist coaxes me into the passenger seat with her cheerful, “Open wide! You’ll be out of the chair in a jiffy!”

Excuse me while I rinse.

 

Photos credits:

Blond with toothache:M. Marchol

Dentist with instruments: G.Szarkiewiez

Panic: Stuart Miles