My Reluctant Brush ... with the Dentist.
Anyone who says the patient communities on the web don't have a positive influence on health outcomes is out of their mind; the only reason I went to the dentist yesterday is because of Chris Angell's guest post. His admission of being slack when it came to the dental department has been in my head for months, and it was his post that made me finally call my dentist.
Because I did NOT want to fall victim to decAY1c ... aka my diabetes eating my teeth beyond recognition.
So when December rolled around, and I knew that my new insurance included dental and vision, I set up a bunch of necessary appointments in the new year. (Which explains why, in the first two weeks of January, I found myself at the eye doctor, dentist, gynecologist, and primary care doc. Happy new year ... here are all my bits and pieces. Oh, and my money.)
Going to the OB/GYN is a nerve-wracking experience (mostly because it's just super-awkward), but never something I put off. And eye dilations take up a chunk of time and render my eyeballs useless for a few hours, but I've always kept up on that, too, in efforts to keep tabs on my slightly-compromised eyes. But the dentist has always been an appointment I keep meaning to make, and then rarely follow through on.
Honestly? Because it hurts. (wah.) I have inherited some very sensitive teeth, and their sensitivity has always made me squeamish about letting the dentist poke around with their metal tools. I'm fine with the daily pokes and prods of type 1 diabetes, but when it comes to my highly-sensitive teeth ... I buckle to the trepidation.
But it was time. Well past time. So I made the dental exam appointment, wedged between a few other medical appointments, hoping I wouldn't notice it was coming and cancel it. Which is how I ended up at the dentist yesterday afternoon, paper bib around my neck and my knuckles white from clenching the arms of the chair.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Fangs [clearly her real name]. It's nice to meet you!"
"Hi, I'm Kerri. And I am pretty nervous about this appointment, so I'm sorry in advance for being jumpy."
She laughed. "It's completely fine. If anything causes you discomfort, we'll stop and make sure you're comfortable before we move forward."
And that was enough for me. I've had dentists in the past who told me to "focus past the pain" and "What - this hurts? This doesn't hurt." (But I have also had wonderful ones.) As much as I want to believe them, it doesn't work out and I end up with more anxiety about the next appointment than I did when I walked in for that one. So to have this new dentist acknowledge that my teeth might be a bit on the sensitive side, and she wanted to make sure she was able to do her job without causing me discomfort ... I pretty much wanted to hug her right away.
Overall, my delayed dental exam wasn't an issue. (I'm a teeth-brushing fanatic, as evidenced by the tooth brush I keep in my purse almost at all times, and the fact that I've been caught brushing my teeth in hotel lobby bathrooms during conferences. I do NOT like anything other than a minty-mouth. Maybe it's because the taste of high blood sugars - high mouth? - is so sticky and sour. /digression) No cavities were found, no gum issues were detected, and I've already scheduled my follow-up appointments. Despite having avoided The Chair for a good two years, I made it back in time to keep decay at bay.
But oh, the irony of taking my daughter to her first dentist appointment this morning. "You will love it! They look at your teeth and check to make sure everything in your mouth is comfortable and good. And at the end of the appointment, they'll give you a toothbrush!"
"I love the dentist!" she beamed.
"Oh, me, too!" I said, lying through my no-longer-ignored teeth.