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As If Dental Work Wasn’t Already The Worst

, , , , , | Healthy | July 10, 2022

During a particularly bad year in my early teens, I had to make several visits to a dental clinic in one of my area’s more affordable hospitals. Typically, these visits were just checkups, but on one occasion, three cavities were discovered in my molars. Due to the work needing to be done and the cost, the dentist broke it up into three procedures. The first two procedures went well — inject the local, numb the mouth, drill out the cavity, insert the filling, and send me home.

The third visit, however, was a bit different.

Not long after the local was injected, I noticed it wasn’t taking effect. I informed the dentist about this, who would go on to perform not one, but five or six additional injections as each time it still failed to numb my jaw. After the final injection, the dentist asked me if my mouth was numb. When I responded, without any slurring or any other audible sign of numbness, that it wasn’t, she turned to my mom, declared that it must be numb by now, and proceeded to get to work.

The pain of having an unanesthetized tooth attacked by a drill isn’t particularly sharp, but it is powerful, extremely present, and most importantly, constant. I attempted to power through it; I was just a kid, after all, and the doc knew what they were doing, right? After a few moments, the doctor stopped, glared at me, and sternly told me to get back up into my seat and to “stop scooting down.”

I was completely unaware of it, but the entire time the drilling had been taking place, I had been slowly inching my way down toward the floor. I guess the dentist assumed that I was being an annoying kid, because the entire time, she never once stopped to question WHY this was happening. And sure enough, after continuing to drill a few more minutes, she stopped again to scold me for scooting down.

I tried to tell her that my mouth wasn’t numb. Her response?

Dentist: “I injected you several times. It’s numb. Stop being difficult.”

And she proceeded to finish the drilling. This time, I made a conscious effort to stay in one place, which must have worked because she finished the procedure without any more complaints.

And after the filling was put in, how did she respond?

Dentist: “See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

When the time came for my next checkup, I insisted that we not go back to that dentist. Thankfully, my mom listened.

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