I have a confession to make

I am terrified by dentists.

Terrified. Mortified. Petrified. Stupefied by dentists and their instruments of torture healing.


Steve Martin as as Orin Scrivello, DDS, an abusive, sadistic and nitrous oxide-huffing dentist in The Little Shop Of Horrors

When I was growing up in Colombia, there was no such thing as annual or semi-annual visits to the dentist. As a child, you were taken there only when a tooth needed to be extracted.

And a tooth extraction was always a very horrible, painful experience.

Happy smiles, free toothbrushes, gifts, rewards? Ha! The most you got was a Popsicle from your parents to help dull the pain. After stern looks and a lot of scolding for not sitting still.

As a result, I learned very early to endure tooth pain. Cause, if there is no pain, there is no reason to have your tooth extracted, right?

Because that was the other thing. Fillings? No such thing. A cavity always meant extraction. I seriously believe those “dentists” didn’t know anything else but to pull teeth out.

Because of that, my teeth are in funny places and in funny directions. I am lucky the front ones ended up sort of aligned without any help. Truly.

Fast forward some 40 years. I know I need to have my wisdom teeth extracted. I’ve known this for at least 25 years. I’ve done nothing about it. Not even at those times when I’ve had dental insurance. It is not about the money. It’s about deep fear.

I’ve been experiencing tooth ache for quite a while. And -I thought, a broken tooth. Finally, it got to a point where I was actually concerned I might have an infection. The pain -initially localized, has expanded to my whole left lower jaw.

So I called to make an appointment. As it turned out, my old dentist retired and someone bought his practice. “Great” I thought. I have to start all over again. They won’t know anything about my fears.

But the pain won and I showed up to my appointment.

I needn’t be afraid.

They were wonderful!

They greeted me with a gift


They asked me if I was nervous. I said, are you kidding me? “very!”. They told me it was ok. Apparently, a lot of people get nervous too.

They sent me in and I met my dentist’s assistant. I told her I was cold and she brought me a blanket. a BLANKET! That was awesome. It had a little teddy bear on one corner. I started to relax a little.

Then my dentist came in and I tensed up again. She asked me if I was nervous and I told her I had bad memories about going to the dentist from when I was growing up. She was very sympathetic and understanding and she took pains to make the experience a good one for me.

They took an X-Ray and then the doctor proceeded to do some tests with tapping and cold. She examined the X-Ray.

The good news? There is no infection. The tooth is not broken, but the filling is chipped. All I need is a new filling. The dentist even said the hole is very small.  Pheeew.

And even better, getting a new filling will be free because they are having a Free Day of Dentistry this Saturday! I didn’t know about this. They could have just scheduled me for a filling. Instead, the dentist told me all about the event and encouraged me to come, because she knew I don’t have insurance. Isn’t that awesome?

Thank goodness for health professionals with a heart and a conscience!

The bad news? The damn wisdom tooth is pushing against the bone, causing the pain. It needs to be extracted, there’s no other way around it. The pain will only get worse, eventually. And it might end up causing some other problems too.

But that will be a battle for another day.

26 thoughts on “I have a confession to make

  1. Jason N. says:

    Ha, just like you I’m terrified of dentistry! This sounds like it was actually a semi-pleasant experience…?? Wow! :)

  2. Claudia Bette says:

    I hate the dentist to. My last experience was horrible and it was just a silver filling being replaced with a white filling and another filling. They had to give me 4 shots to numb me up properly. Or I’m just a wimp, which could very well be the case to. But up until the 4th shot set in, I was feeling it all and she had to stop completely after a while, until the numbing hit. It was awful.
    I’ve had two wisdom teeth pulled. They usually numb you up real good and you feel nothing. It wasn’t to bad and takes only a few minutes to do. But as far as feeling it, you won’t.

    • SummerSolsticeGirl says:

      Oh, good grief. That’s too bad. Apparently, the more apprehensive you are, the more shots you required. Or at least that what my old dentist told me once. Something like that happened to me once as well. And once they were done, half of my face was frozen and stayed frozen for the rest of the day. It was like having a stroke :(

  3. TJLubrano says:

    Don’t worry a whole lot about the wisdom tooth, Claudia! I got two extracted last year and I waited till the very last moment as I was so scared for the shots and what not, but eventually the headaches and neck pains I got were a whole lot more painful than the actual shots I got. And they will ask you if you feel anything before they get it out. At least mine did :) The feeling of it getting pulled out is odd, but over in a few minutes. It’s like a tree being pulled out…you will feel the pressure as they need to get the tooth out by the roots. But no pain at all.

  4. "HE WHO" says:

    Me too, Claudia. My pain threshold is absolute zero. But we are better off living through a few minutes of discomfort than day after day after day of pain.

    • SummerSolsticeGirl says:

      Oh, my pain threshold is very high. Especially for chronic pain. But even for acute pain too. That’s part of the problem. The other part is the trauma itself.

      I agree with you, At the intellectual level, I know it is better to go through those few moments of pain to get it over with. Convincing myself to make it happen is another story…

  5. waqaroptimist says:

    Thank you for sharing your fears and experience.
    I also have a wisdom tooth issue. In year 2011 it started to realise me its presence but then it has stopped. In X-ray its visible but hasnt come up nor it hurt me.

  6. Sandee says:

    I’m glad it turned out better than you had anticipated but I do feel your pain about the wisdom tooth — no pun — well you know the rest. Good luck!

  7. Anita S says:

    I’m so glad you found a dentist who is caring, understanding, and helpful! I’ve been to some who just don’t care how the patient feels, or worse, look down upon a nervous person. Good luck with future tooth needs! :-)

  8. purplemary54 says:

    Once you recover from the chipmunk cheeks, the pain will disappear. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I still have my wisdom teeth.

    Dentists inspire fear in a lot of people, even those who haven’t had the experiences you had growing up. (I’m terrified of anything medical in general, so dentists have been lumped in with that.) I hope I can find a dentist as cool as yours, though.

  9. Lunch Sketch says:

    Aaargh! I hate the dentist. I never go for check-ups … I only go if I have some persistent pain. Glad your trip worked out ok and even better … cheap!

    I don’t envy you any wisdom teeth work though! Ouch in the pain and purse department!

    • SummerSolsticeGirl says:

      Yeah, that was very lucky, considering that the initial consultation (X-Ray included, was $75). Getting the filling done for free today.

      As for the wisdom tooth surgery, I’ll have to build up the courage – and the savings, for it ;)

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