By Ernie Fowler – Nashville CHSD #99
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said “the only thing to fear is fear itself”. That is exactly what I had recently when I had to visit the dentist’s office. I had fear itself. I’ve never liked going to the dentist. The thought of it makes me ill. I’m finding that there are several folks who share the same phobia as yours truly.
The logical side of me says the more often we visit the dentist and take care of our teeth; the less work has to be done. I find, however, that logic is often pushed aside due to fear. My wife has a much stronger constitution than I do when it comes to the world of oral health. She recently had to undergo a root canal. On the day of, you would have thought she was going to a Sunday picnic. I escorted her in my feeble attempt at moral support. She sat in the lobby awaiting her call to “90 minutes in Hell”. She calmly thumbed through magazines. I sat next to her with cold clammy hands. I couldn’t look at a magazine due to my trembling. A woman with a mask around her neck called her back. The time had come. I slumped in my chair. Soon, I heard the sounds of drilling, sucking, and spitting. I couldn’t take it anymore. I stumbled to the door and went out for fresh air before I either passed out or threw up all over the table filled with outdated reading material. When the visit was over, she came out slightly swollen but in good spirits. The dentist had resolved her issue. She told me she was fine. Good. I handed her the car keys and told her she was going to have to drive home while I was in this weakened condition. She was grateful for my help!
Now, about my visit to the dentist….exactly two days after my wife’s. I had recovered from her experience. My turn! I slept little the night before the visit. I proved my wife wrong as she said there was a 90% chance that I would cancel. I showed up on time for my first visit to the new place. I was called back and immediately fully confessed to the dental assistant that I was terrified. Perhaps she would show mercy toward me. She helped me to sit in what I assumed would be the “chair of torture”. She calmly explained what they had planned for me. She offered me the option of “gas” to help me relax. Yes! I want plenty of gas….extra strength. She also turned on a switch and I started getting massaged by the chair. I thought I was hallucinating. She even turned on a TV and I got to watch a comedy. Between the gas, the massage, and the TV show I found myself wanting to sleep…..in a dentist’s office! I met the dentist. He was kind, easy-going, assured me that I was in control of what we did today. I reluctantly agreed to two fillings. The experience was not nearly as bad as I had envisioned. There was still drilling, sucking, and that little pricky instrument that I hate…..but not a twinge of pain. Best of all, my visit was done right here in Nashville. I ‘m still a coward…..but now I’m just a bit nervous instead of filled with gut-wrenching fear. Open wide!