Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No More Needles

A little over a month ago, I started to have extreme sensitivity in my teeth. I could hardly eat or drink anything without being in pain. It might have had something to do with the fact that I hadn’t been to a dentist in two years, but I have an irrational fear of anyone going near my teeth. But since the pain was interfering with my ability to exist, I decided to break down and make an appointment to find out what was going on.

I was relieved to find out that it was a problem most likely attributed to my night-time grinding. The dentist took x-rays, concluded that there were no cavities, and sent me home with a prescription for fluoride toothpaste. She told me that I had to come back in two weeks for a cleaning because she wanted to make sure that I’d actually come back (I think she sensed my fear of dentists) and not just skip it because I felt improvement with the sensitivity. The toothpaste helped and two weeks later I went back for my “routine” cleaning, feeling relieved because the sensitivity had not turned out to be anything too serious. Remember when I said that things can never be too easy for me? You see where this is going. So I’m lying in the chair while she exams all my teeth, making observations for the assistant to note. She finishes, sits me up, and tells me that I have nine cavities. No, that is not a typo. NINE, not NONE. They weren’t deep enough to see on the x-ray, she said, but they were definitely cavities that could cause bigger problems. Right away the panic set in. She told me that she’d have to fill all of them and that I could elect to do it in quadrants or in halves. I chose halves because the thought of having to go back four times was unbearable and carefully scheduled the first appointment for after Christmas.

Last Monday I went in for the right side, which was home to five cavities. I was completely anxious for the entire weekend beforehand (did I mention I hate needles?). The dreadful morning arrives and I got the Novocain without even crying, although that wouldn’t last long. The upper portion goes pretty smoothly and since I didn’t need a break, the dentist elected to move on to the bottoms. She starts the drill, touches it to my tooth, and I immediately jump like she’s trying to pull the thing out. She stopped instantly, reached over to her tray of tools, and grabbed the pointy thingy that they use to scrape plaque. When she touched my gum with it I could feel the sharpness so I needed another round of Novocain. I won’t lie, I did cry a little bit. I was only prepared for two shots and had no idea that sometimes they have to numb one section a couple times. The second shot was in and the first tooth on the bottom had been successfully completed with no pain. And then there was the second tooth. OMG, STOP RIGHT NOW. Right away I sensed pain from the drill but couldn’t feel the sharp instrument. Then, the words of horror: I’m going to have to inject you again. FULL BLOWN TEARS. I’m bawling because there is no way that I want a FOURTH needle piercing my gum. And this is where it gets intense. I worked through the pain. I sucked it up and didn’t cry for the rest of the appointment. When she finished, she told me that the cavity was a LOT deeper than she thought and therefore it was close to the nerve which was why I couldn’t feel the sharp instrument but I could feel the drill.

I got the last four filled this afternoon and it went a whole lot better than last time. No tears, no blood, and only two shots of Novocain. I don’t have to go back for six months, and even that will only be for a cleaning. I just have to point out this little fact; in the past week and a half I have had 40 allergy test shots, 8 injections for ambiguous allergy test results, and 5 shots of Novocain for a grand total of 52 shots. Rockstar? I think so.

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