Went regularly as a child, back in the mists of time, when all the tools hung off the chair and no novacaine was standard procedure.
As a young adult I stopped going as I could not afford it. I let things get a little run down, you might say.
My first overseas travel experience brought me face to face with a culture where dentistry was still practiced on the street with a guy who’s assistant’s job was to hold you down! Yeah, that’ll get anybody back into the dentist’s chair. The very thought of it made me go before each holiday I took to Asia.
In the interim years I have become incredibly fearful of the dentist. Because the roots of my teeth are very, very long and my teeth are very sensitive. The novocaine was often not 100 % effective, maybe every 3rd or 4th visit was like a little electroshock surprise! Repeat that experience for 15 plus yrs and you’d be a little jumpy going to the dentist too. Fear hardly begins to cover it.
After each horrid experience I would enquire of the dentist if I shouldn’t maybe seek out a dentist that uses gas? Each and every time (through many acknowledged high quality dentists) I was assured there was no need. Things like this just happen! And foolishly I believed them, time and time again. I am embarrassed at how long I allowed myself to be strung along. I was a fool.
It is NOT unreasonable to expect anesthesia to be 100% effective, 100% of the time.
Eventually I wised up and switched to a dentist that specializes in sedation dentistry (after reading about it on this board!). He uses gas in addition to the novocaine on me. (And other forms of sedation, including IV on other patients!).
Gas is a wonderful thing. The beauty of it is that they hook you up when you get seated and before and jabs etc. A couple of deep breaths and your anxiety melts away. Without the anxiety the jaw significantly unclenches in a way that seriously reduces the after pain of jabs and drilling. The patient largely controls the dosage of gas in that any time you feel a little anxious by developments you just take a couple of really deep breaths and, voila, you just relax. Also this dentist has a protocal wherein I need only raise my hand for any reason and he will stop what he’s doing, very reassuring.
The gas, in combo with the novocaine, was all I needed. However it was clear my new dentist was still paying the frieght for all the ones who had come before him. My experience being what it was I was constantly awaiting the inevitable time when the freezing would not take. Like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Three weeks ago began a course of events which brought me to my knees. I cracked a tooth, he suggested a root canal, while I was waiting to get back in to see him, and of course, on a Friday night, things when from uncomfortable as I bite, to blood curdling agony. It had become infected, there was nothing to be done until Monday, antibiotics and huge pain killers. What a weekend, I was weak from pain and drowsy from pain meds and still in agony.
I called the office Monday. When the girl said Friday was as soon as they could see me I began to quietly weep and could not speak. She says, ‘Hang on a sec’, followed by, ‘Be here at noon, we won’t do the root canal but we will stabilize it for you.’
Going to the office for that visit I do not think I could have had any more trepidation if I had been walking to the gallows. I was certain this would be the time it wouldn’t take. How could it when the horse sized pain pills had only quieted it down to a dull roar?
First thing he gets his big needle, asks do I need gas before the shot, (NO sir, have at it!), and jabs away. It was the most glorious moment, I cannot even put it into words. The pain subsided and relief was mine. I almost wept it was so indescribably good. When he came back in, a few minutes later, he told me I already looked 100% better than just ten minutes earlier.
Long story short (Like that’s possible now!), he stabilized my tooth. I returned within a week to have the root canal completed, within ten days the crown and now, all is well and beautiful in my world. But I knew after that first encounter, when the agony was full upon me, I would never, ever be afraid of the dentist again!
Usually a visit to the dentist keeps me from sleeping well the night before, sometimes I would need a sleeping pill, I would always make my husband wait in the office, and I was always a little tremble inside when I took my seat in the chair. But no more, after that first visit I returned for the root canal and crown having slept, unaided, like a baby the night before. By the crown I told my husband I’d call when I was done he didn’t need to wait!
Never let a dentist poo poo your pain or discomfort, never hesistate to try another dentist until you find one who hears your concerns. Look under sedation dentistry in the phone book.
Elbows, recently reinstated as ‘not afraid of anything’ !!!