Yes, really. Nine years.
I need to go and I am terrified. Every time I think or talk about going I start shaking and then the tears come. I don’t think there’s ever been anything in my life I was more scared of (other than getting a spinal for my c-section).
What is the source of my fear? The simple answer is that I associate the dentist with a traumatic event. The two are (most likely) not related, but I can’t seem to separate them in my mind.
I can tell you the exact date I last went to the dentist. It was Wednesday, April 17, 2002.
I was 11 weeks pregnant. I walked into the office, went up to the receptionist and burst into tears. I told her I didn’t think I could go through with having my cavity filled. I had never had a filling without the gas.
This was also my first time ever going to a dentist that wasn’t Dr. Smith (like my creative pseudonym?) - the man who went to high school with my father and ended up being our dentist for most of my childhood. Dr. Smith used to hide the needle from me so I didn’t see it until the very last second. After he got me good and frozen, he’d proceed to tell blonde jokes - to his blonde patient and blonde assistant. Nothing unkind - he was just a funny man. And I wish I could have packed him up and brought him to Ottawa with me when I moved. (I feel the same about my GP and chiropractor, too.)
If I had been wise, I would have taken the receptionist up on her offer of a reprieve. I would have walked away and not had that cavity filled. Instead, I decided that I needed to grow up and do what had to be done. Because that’s what you do when you’re facing impending motherhood, right?
It was awful. I don’t think I’ve relaxed in the last nine years since I got up from that chair; my body was wound so tight. Not having gas for a filling should never have been an option for me - nor will it ever be again. My tooth was sensitive for months after because I had the tooth-coloured filling for the first time.
All in all, it was way too many firsts. First child. First time without Dr. Smith. First filling with no gas. First filling while pregnant with first child. The firsts piled on top of firsts and turned it into something far greater than it had to be. But that wasn’t the end.
Thursday I started spotting.
It continued on Friday.
When I woke up Sunday, I knew I needed to go to the hospital. After hours on a saline drip, freezing cold from what must have been ice water they were dripping through my veins, they finally did the ultrasound that confirmed what I already knew.
My baby was gone.
Logically, I can tell you that I don’t believe those two events were related. But fears are rarely logical and this one is as irrational as they come. It’s been well over nine years since I went to the dentist. I’m sitting here writing about this on the ninth anniversary of my due date - November 7th. It’s astounding to me that, had things gone differently, I would have a nine-year-old running around. But things didn’t work out that way.
And now I have to go back to the dentist.
My dad always told me I needed to brush my teeth properly or my teeth would rot out of my head. His nagging advice was wise and I heeded it and I have had few issues. But I am a teeth grinder. Always have been (it used to wake my mom up at night). My physiotherapist keeps telling me to get a nightguard to help with my neck pain.
This means a trip to the dentist.
Last week, I woke in the middle of the night when a felt something crumbly on my tongue. It was a chip off of one of my molars. Just a small chip. No pain. But it was a wake up call about that nightguard. Clearly, it can’t wait.
Today I finally started looking for a dentist. Specifically, I’m trying to find a sleep dentist. I’m pretty sure that I’m officially beyond the ability to relax even with the gas anymore.
Now, if only I could get someone to let me use the gas so I’d actually make the call to set up an appointment.