Oh, I was afraid all right – I’m talking white-knuckle fear, the kind where you’re gripping the arm supports on the dentists chair so hard they might break off. This was me for the longest time…
I remember that somewhat panicky feeling of inhaling the nitrous oxide like Frank Booth in Blue Velvet – greedily inhaling as deeply as possible, holding it in like a bong hit, then breathing out through my mouth for fear of wasting any precious gas building up in my mask, ready to be inhaled again, repeating the whole process, praying for a state as close to unconscious as I could get.
Mind you, this was after a full round of Novocaine injections in my mouth. Did I mention hypnotherapy? Or the free use of Benzos in a desperate attempt just to get me calm enough to actually keep my appointment?
Well, I don’t know if it was the disciplined application of self-hypnosis (taught to me by a wonderful hypnotherapist), or the years of meditation, but I am happy to say that I no longer need any of this stuff (except for the nitrous). At the age of 62, I now have almost perfectly straight teeth (thank you Invisalign), and my body no longer mounts a full blown fight or flight response at the mere thought of the dentist.
After a disastrous period of neglect in my teens and 20’s, it now looks like I might die with my own teeth – and they actually look pretty good! (at least the parts you see when I smile). I really have my wonderful dentist of the last 33 years to thank for this – although it was rough getting here, I’m grateful for what I’ve got, which turns out to be not so bad at all.
The take away? Parents, don’t torture your children by saving money on the Novocaine in their first cavities. It’s hard to believe anyone would actually do this, but I’m unfortunately here to testify that it happens.
It’s hard to erase childhood traumas. I’ve been through a lot worse, but this particular one had some really nasty consequences.
In my case perseverance, grit, and time saw me through and ultimately allowed me to (more or less) conquer my fear.
Don’t ever give up.