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Little Dentist’s Office Of Horrors

, , , | Healthy | November 11, 2022

Due to an unfortunate combination of bad habits and bad genes, my teeth are very unhealthy and I have a lot of cavities. Due to bad experiences as a child and teen, I also have pretty bad dental anxiety. But I’m trying to be healthier for my family, and so, slowly but surely, I’m getting my teeth taken care of.

I showed up at my most recent appointment thinking it was a cleaning, but when I asked at check-in, I was told it was a filling. Shoot, I left my fidget toy at home! Oh, well, I can do this. 

The dentist informed me that it was a deep cavity and I regretted my lack of fidget even more. I could feel the panic attack building as I waited for the numbing to set in. I genuinely considered just walking out, since both the dentist and assistant had left my room. Using other calming techniques, I staved off the panic.

The work began. I don’t know if it’s normal, but when I’m reclined in those chairs, my mouth seems to overproduce mucus and frequently congests the back of my throat. After about twenty minutes of drilling, I breathed in in a way that caught all that mucus and briefly suffocated me. I flung my arms up to stop the work and sat up the second I could, struggling to get a deep breath.

Dentist: “You okay?”

I was practically hyperventilating, unable to speak.

Dentist: “We need to finish. Can you lay back down?”

I was still trying to breathe.

Dentist: “We’re almost done. We need to finish this. Are you ready?”

He continued to try to rush me through the panic attack while I still couldn’t speak and was focused just on breathing. Spoiler alert: rushing someone through a panic attack does not help the panic!

Eventually, I was able to breathe calmly and laid back down. They set up all the things they needed to force me to keep my mouth open — part of my bad genes combo is a small mouth.

Dentist: “Are you good now?”

Unable to speak and afraid to move my head and dislodge the mouth-opening thing, I signed the word “yes” in ASL, which looks kind of like nodding your fist.

Dentist: “What’s that?”

Assistant: “I think that’s ‘yes’ in sign language.”

I pointed at the assistant and repeated the sign.

Dentist: “That’s not ‘yes’, that’s a motorcycle.” *Disparagingly* “Most people do a thumbs-up for yes.”

I managed to get through the rest of the drilling, despite the dentist constantly snapping at me to relax my tongue, and the filling.

Getting out of the chair spiraled me into another panic attack, but I just wanted to get out of the office at that point. The lady at checkout saw that I was crying and asked if I wanted to call later to schedule the next appointment. I knew that if I took that option, I’d never get the next one scheduled, so instead, I asked her to schedule it out as far as possible.

This was the worst experience I’ve had at this office, and that includes the time an assistant berated me for having an infected tooth while I was pregnant.

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