I hadn't been to the dentist in a long time. I've always had good teeth, very few cavities, and while I knew I should go, I just didn't want to. Then, a few weeks ago I was eating something, I can't remember what, and one of my teeth felt weird. I could feel a kind of ridge with my tongue, and I realized that the tooth had broken. But nothing else happened, so I didn't do anything. Then, a week or so ago, I started having some pain in a different tooth, and I started getting scared about it. I have a mitral valve prolapse, which is the fancy word for a heart murmur, and any time I have dental work I have to be pre-medicated with an antibiotic. I thought, how stupid would it be to die of some kind of infection that could have been prevented?
So I called and made an appointment. But it was so traumatic for me! I know that no one loves going to the dentist, but I also know that most people don't have a terrible phobia about them. Bob used to go all the time. For one thing, I thought that they might give me a hard time for not coming in sooner, and, of course, I was worried about the pain and, not least, the cost.
They were all very nice, of course, and that fear was unfounded. It turned out that I will need to have a crown put on the fractured tooth to try to save it, and the tooth that was giving me pain needed to come out. So they wrote me up a treatment plan, and gave me a referral to a dental surgeon. The appointment for that was Monday, and it was about as traumatic as making the initial appointment was. I really don't tend to get all that upset about things, but this was really getting to me.
The technician could tell that I was upset, and she asked me if I wanted nitrous oxide. She said, "It's $65, and your insurance won't pay for it, but it might be worth it." I declined, not wanting to pay the extra cost, but when the dentist was giving me the shots to numb the area, I would wince, I guess, and he said, "you're jumpy!" The technician asked me if I wanted to try the nitrous, and I said, okay, maybe I should. I had never had it before and didn't know what to expect. It wasn't a huge difference, I don't think, but it probably helped.
I took the rest of the day off, and Bob got me a milk shake for my dinner, which I had to eat with a spoon because I can't use a straw yet. I did go to work the next day, and when I mentioned how traumatic it all had been, one of the girls in the office said, "It's because you're a redhead." Well, actually what she said was, "It's because you're a ginger." Apparently is is a somewhat well known fact that redheads are harder to anesthetize, and have a greater amount of pain and anxiety, particularly regarding dental work. I've always felt like I had a pretty high pain tolerance, and, in face, have never taken any of the pain medications that I've been given after a procedure, but there's just something about dental pain that shakes me. I looked it up, and there was a study documenting it.
Pretty interesting, and somewhat validating.
So anyway, on the day before Thanksgiving, I have to have a crown put on. I'm definitely not looking forward to it, but I'm planning on mentioning the study to the dentist and see if he has heard of it, and/or agrees with it.