It’s been a while. I’m not going to tell you just how long, but that fact in itself should give you a clue as to the level of my shameful dentist-aversion.
My experiences at the hands of various
sadists tooth doctors over the years have been far from pleasant. One of my earlier memories is of a grumpy hygienist, who removed plaque from my teeth, only to smear it on the back of my hand with her sharp, pointy tools. I’m not quite sure what the point of this was – maybe to shame my 9 year old self into better brushing? As opposed to the actual result of making me want to avoid the hygienist at all costs from there on in – because, you know, she’s disgusting.
Then there’s the no nonsense, no frills, fair dinkum Australian dentist in Sydney, who decided to remove two of my wisdom teeth one morning….which turned out not to be quite the easy job he had anticipated. We’re talking proper pliers on tooth, knee on chest, head wrenched from side to side, old-skool tooth extraction here. I’m sure that wasn’t his plan (and I’m also sure he hadn’t anticipated that the local anaesthetic wouldn’t work), but I don’t mind telling you, it didn’t exactly rate as my most favourite day ever!
But, ultimately, I’ve had to admit to myself that the time has come – I’d started to become paranoid that I might be known as “The Halitosis Queen” in social circles, and my dreams are filled with toothless grins and crumbling molars. Despite my fearful misgivings, I am determined not to be part of that British smile stereotype!
More importantly, I don’t want the Pepperlings to share the same odontophobia as their ridiculous mother, so I finally sucked it up and made an appointment for my first ever American dentist appointment. You can imagine my joy when they informed me, over the phone, that a New Patient appointment is two hours long…. shudder!
So, having dropped Evie off at pre-school, leaving a napping Henry at home with his Daddy, off I drove, towards the great unknown. I mean, I’ve seen Extreme Makeover, I’ve seen what can be done in this country I’m just suspicious about the fact that that show skips over
all the gore everything in between the before and after smile shots!
So, the lowdown.
I arrived to a very plush lobby, greeted by a super cheerful receptionist, who asked me to fill in a few forms. Almost immediately (a 9.15 am appointment that actually started at 9.15? Gasp!), the Dental Assistant, Darcey, came and took me through to the
scary place office. Her role seemed to be just to get me seated, give me a (sexyyy) paper bib, and ask me if I had any particular concerns ( I said “Erm, I’m a nervous patient, I’m afraid”). Then she disappeared, and 30 seconds later “Dr Shane” hobbled in on crutches, right leg in full plaster, and a smug smile on his face as he asked “So, we don’t like dentists, huh?”.
In short, I have to say that, as far as dental appointments go, I just couldn’t ask for better. Knowing that I’m a scaredy cat, they treated me with kid gloves – never saying anything remotely negative, constantly reassuring, and always asking “Is that OK? If anything hurts, let us know!”.
When the hygienist appeared, she talked me through everything she was going to do, and, again, assured me that nothing would hurt and that she was determined to banish my dental phobia for good by only ever giving me a positive experience.
I’m afraid I’m not the best flosser, I’m just always in such a hurry to get into bed once the Pepperlings are finally asleep, I tend to brush and run, desperate to reach the land of Nod in the shortest possible time. But no more. NO MORE! As a result of my bad habits, I now have another 3 appointments with Catherine, the super sweet hygienist, to look forward to this month. That’s 5 hours of deep cleaning, people. 5 hours and 3 nasty needles into my poor sore gums. For the sake of an extra 5 minutes each night, I think I can safely say I’m converted. Floss. Floss, floss, floss. My new mantra. For the love of God, just FLOSS, woman!
Some interesting things about this super plush American dentist experience:
- They don’t have spit sinks. Those horrid, tiny metal basins, where you get to see (and heave over) all those oral niceties as they disappear down the drain? Nope, phased out years ago, apparently.
- The whole office was open plan, with privacy screens between each examination room, rather than doors / walls. Weirdly enough, there was something quite comforting about hearing the dentist’s son yelling “No Daddy, NO!!!!”. Let’s face it, if the dentist’s own son is afraid of having his teeth cleaned, then I feel a little better about my own qualms. Yes, he was three, and I am thirty-five – details, schmetails, that kid was a wuss, and I was super brave – I got a goody bag and everything!
- They have headphones. And TVs. And nitrous oxide. You can watch movies, listen to music and get high at the dentist. THIS is the real reason that the Yanks have such great teeth – they just can’t keep away from the place!
- Along with my goody bag, I got a free tooth whitening kit. They took a mould of my teeth, made a custom-fit tray for me, and offered me a life-time supply of bleach. Gratis.
- It was free. Well, OK, not free, but covered by our insurance. So, I skipped out of there with my wallet unopened, and my heart free of guilt as I headed to Starbucks for my consolatory grande non-fat latte.
My next appointment is this Friday. I wouldn’t go as far to say I’m looking forward to it, yet….when all is said and done, it’s 2 hours on a Friday morning, lying on my back with my eyes closed, thinking of nothing, and being yelled at by no-one.
Ahhhh…..120 sweet minutes of “me time”? Hell yeah, I’ll take it !!