Saturday, March 17, 2007

I Hate Dental Work

I hate going to the dentist. I’ve got really sensitive teeth. (Think multiple shots of Novocain that still don’t numb the nerve completely.) And this was a new dentist so I had no way of knowing how good he was or wasn’t.

And then there’s the cost. I don’t have dental insurance and even if I did a) the insurance wouldn’t be cheap and b) I’d still have to pay half out of pocket.

So why am I talking about something that makes most people cringe? Two reason. I want to share two things with all of you: dental discount cards and relaxation techniques.

In my case, I found that Aetna has a dental discount card that costs me $6 a month (one time $15 application fee). There’s NO WAITING PERIOD for any level of dental work and it saved me $138 yesterday. ($258 without the card, $120 with it) Needless to say, I’m thrilled. So I mention it for anyone else who doesn’t have dental insurance and needs dental work. It might save you enough to be worth it. (I’ll see in 6 months how much it saves me on having my teeth cleaned.)

Now for the other part of it. As I said, I’d never had any work done by this dentist before. So I was really nervous. Would he understand how terrified I was? Would he stop if he hit the nerve and give me a chance to recover? What about the Novocain—would it work this time?

I’ve been told in the past that the adrenaline of fear can drive the Novocain out of the system so the more I could do to relax the better. Um, okay. What did I have to lose? The question was: Was it possible? (Relax? RELAX? To get my tooth drilled? Were they out of their freaking minds?????)

I started the night before, telling myself as I went to sleep that it would go perfectly on Friday morning. I would feel no pain. Friday morning I had decaf coffee instead of regular and I started doing deep, calming breathing techniques. At the dentist’s office, for the first time they took my blood pressure before they began. 117/68—pretty good. The breathing technique must be working.

The dentist came in. He was very nice, assured me everyone got scared. I’m not sure he realized just how scared I get because I looked so calm. Okay, we’d see how it goes. He tilted the chair back and I closed my eyes and kept repeating mentally to myself that I was calm and at peace and it would all go perfectly. And it pretty much did. He hit the nerve once, instantly stopped, gave me a second or two to recover and then after that it was fine.

I can’t tell you my relief when he was done. It was probably the most pain free filling I’ve ever gotten. Part of it was that he was good at what he did. I also know that a big part of it was how relaxed I was.

Anyway wanted to share those two things—the dental discount cards and the relaxation techniques—because I know that going to the dentist can be a real problem for many of us. (Heck I’m such a wuss about the dentist that there have been times I put off seeing one for a few years at a stretch—and always regretted it later.)

As always, sending safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),

Note: Family crisis means I may need to fly to NJ and not sure when I'll next get a chance to post. No one should worry if I'm a little later than usual! I'm fine just, as I said, family crisis to deal with.


jumpinginpuddles said...

we havent been to a dentist in over twenty years, cant relax too scared and hope to never return, but i think i like what you just said, could you do a blog about hwo you get to be in a place where you cna override fear because it would be good if you could.
We wouldnt mind trying some of the techniques and seeing if it works

April_optimist said...

Jumping in Puddles,

Scrambling to figure out how to deal with a family crisis so this will be short. Good suggestion about a post on relaxation techniques. I'll work on one because it's really powerful to have tools to let us do things that scare us.

Karma said...

PTSD can be triggered by dental work, at least for survivors of sexual violence. I think that it is pretty common. If you need to, consider getting something like a low dose of xanax or valium prescribed by your pscyhiatrist to take just before your appointment.

April_optimist said...


Good point. And I do have friends who take something before they go. What surprised me is how much of a difference just doing deep breathing can make. (Breathe deeply, hold and imagine feeling safe, breathe out.)

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