I managed to reach 25 or 26 without being afraid of the dentist. I really didn’t mind going. I had always had good dentists, no one had trouble numbing me, and my jaw never gave me issues. I only had one dentist who used nitrous but I was afraid of it so I didn’t breath through my nose (I have since learned the beauty of the gas).
I have always had a lot of cavities. Part of it was due to a lack of flouride and part of it was due to my dislike of flossing. I also wasn’t brushing my very back, top molars properly, something I didn’t learn until I was around 23.
Anyway, in my early 20’s, I didn’t have dental insurance. I knew I had cavities that needed to be filled but I didn’t have the money to get them filled. One of them got bad enough to need a root canal. My dentist (who I loved) said he could do it.
Well, he couldn’t.
Not only was he completely incapable of numbing me completely, my root was shaped like an L and he couldn’t get it all. He stopped after an hour of some of the worst pain I had felt to that point in my life and told me that I needed to see an endodontist.
Well, that one appointment managed to leave me completely terrified of dentists and I didn’t go see an endodontist for 2 years.
When I saw the endodontist, she sprayed canned air on my tooth to see if the nerve had died. I could have TOLD her that it was still working it’s little nerve butt off in there but she wanted to see for herself. She then told me that the damage from the first doctor was too extensive for her to fix (why couldn’t she have told me that before the canned air?) She sent me to an oral surgeon to have the tooth pulled.
Now, I still didn’t have insurance at this point. I had already paid a shitload of money for this tooth and it was still in my mouth and still hurting me so I was getting pretty pissed off. I had also developed a fear of endodontists.
I went to the oral surgeon. He said pulling it would be an easy task and it would cost only a couple hundred more. But, I knew my recent history with numbing issues and I asked about sedation. He said that he did do it but it was $250 extra and took a lot more time. I said I wanted it. He said I didn’t and somehow managed to convince me that it was in my best interest to just get the regular shot.
Well, he was also completely incapable of numbing me. When he came back in to the room (I thought) to find out if I was numb, he instead started yanking on the tooth that apparently liked where it was. The bastard actually yelled at me when I cried and squirmed. Finally he gave up. I was crying and bloody and my tooth was about half out. But, it just wouldn’t release and my crying and squirming was pissing him off. So, he sent me home with an appointment for a sedated extraction in 2 days. I had to go to work that night, with my entire head feeling like it had been repeatedly smashed with the claw end of a very big hammer. I couldn’t eat. I could barely talk (not so good for a QA who needs to explain why things are looking bad). I was exhausted from not being able to sleep from the pain. I still went to work though because I was worried about losing my job (I was still a temp) for missing too much time and I knew I’d be missing time after the sedation.
The surgical extraction took about 10 minutes and was wonderful. I also developed a dry socket about 12 hours after the surgery, which I didn’t even think was possible. The dentist told me to take some Motrin and (basically) to fuck off. I finally convinced his nurse to prescribe something stronger and an antibiotic. I ended up having a painkiller induced panic attack at work that night and had to be sent home. So even after trying to work through all this, I still ended up being fired.
Anyway, it took 2 weeks for the agonizing dry socket pain to go away, I found out that I am hypersensitive to Hydros, I found out I am allergic to erythromycin, I got fired, and it took 6 months before the extraction hole to close enough for me to be able to chew on that side of my mouth again.
By the time all was done, I had spent over $1500 for what ended up being an extraction and it took over 2 years to be done. I spent a whole lot of time in dentist induced agony. I ended up completely petrified of even hygienists, and they had never even hurt me before.