I Hate the Dentist...and the Dentist Hates Me!

Filed under:Opinion, Tooele — posted by Tyler on April 28, 2006 @ 11:20 pm

Just 6 months ago I visited my first dentist in Tooele. I was shocked to find out that I had 9 cavities!

I have a bad history with dentists starting when I was two years old and had to have all of my teeth capped because I was allergic to milk which broke down all my protective enamel. Until I was five or so, I had silver-capped teeth. By the time my permanent teeth came in, the damage had been done. Since then I have had many cavities, including one crown. To add to the damage, I broke my jaw in 1994 and had to have my jaw re-broken and reset during surgery and then wired shut for several weeks.

Despite all my problems with dentists and my apprehension, I was always a “man” about it and never asked for gas. But when I heard that I had 9, the tough-act was officially over. During the four hour procedure (I wanted to get it over with in one go) I experienced “laughing gas” for the first time. It was pure bliss. Suddenly, the dentist was my best friend.

I remember two things about the experience. (Actually, I remember EVERYTHING about the experience; it seems Nitrous Oxide has that effect on most people). Number one was that I felt as though I couldn’t do anything that would make the dentist suspect that I was getting too much gas. No matter what, I didn’t want them to turn it off. As a result, I tried really hard not to laugh at their jokes. I heard that feeling the uncontrollable urge to laugh was a sign that you were being overdosed, but again, because my fear was that they would take it away, I kept it to myself. This fear prevailed to some degree during the entire procedure.

They had to change tanks on me early in the procedure and I was back to normal for a few minutes. When they hooked up the second tank I remember not feeling the effects and I was pretty certain it wasn’t working. I let them know that I wasn’t feeling it like I was before. They fixed the problem, but in their attempt they turned the gas up way too high. The rest of the time was spent fighting off some nasty effects due to overdose as well as enjoying being at the dentist when I wasn’t being overdosed.

The other prevailing thought during the procedure was that I kept reminding myself that I couldn’t forget to tell the dentist and his assistant how much I loved them. They were the ones responsible for providing me with this wonderful feeling and it was them who I had to thank. I wanted to give them both a big hug, but I knew it would be inappropriate. On the way out of the dentist’s office, the feeling to give the dentist had subsided now that I was breathing oxygen, but I still gave him a “you rock” on the way out. That probably gave me away as someone who liked Nitrous Oxide a little too much.

Some other notable experiences I had while I was “under the influence”. My visual senses were extremely enhanced. Everything I looked at appeared to be right in front of my face. For example, I could read the tiny text on the lamp hanging over my head and I had absolutely no inhibitions about looking the dentist and his assistant directly in the eyes. I felt as though they couldn’t see me looking at them because I wasn’t directly looking at them. My pupils didn’t move when I looked around; it was almost an out-of-body experience. When I looked in their eyes I could see extreme details in their pupils.

I also had some auditory sensations that were actually kind of annoying. The radio was on and I remember hearing the verses repeat and echo and loop and pulse. The pulsing would start out slow and then get faster and faster. It got really annoying and then I felt like I had just passed out and I was coming to.

One other effect was when they took a break for a little while. They left the gas on and I was ecstatic that I’d get to experience the gas while just laying there in pure comfort. I must have been breathing better through my nose during this period, because this is when I had the most severe effect of overdose. I remember the radio effect occurring again, but I quickly slipped into a nightmare that I used to have after having a seizure. (I used to have seizure when I was 12 and 13 and when I had them at night I knew I had had one because it always came with one of two horrible dreams.)

The first dream (nightmare) was that I in the ocean and a huge cruise ship was heading straight for me. The captain on board was yelling something and the ship was far away on the horizon. Then the ship would jump forward and forward and then be right on top of me. Then it would be back on the horizon and then forward and forward and right on top of me, each time faster and faster. This happened over and over again, hence the nightmare.

The second nightmare occurs with me in a one-room log cabin. I’m in the middle of the room and suddenly the roof starts to cave in on me. I can see each log as it falls towards me and they fall faster and faster and over and over. I can see each log and I begin to count them. Pretty soon they are falling too fast to count and they continue to fall.

The nightmare I slipped into while being overdosed at the dentist was the first one with the cruise ship. I must have made some noise or started to move around because the next thing I know the person who they had come over to watch me said something to the assistant and the assistant asked “Are you doing ok over there?” I forced myself to coherence and tried my best to answer coherently (kind of like being woken up by the phone but trying to talk like you’re half asleep) and said, “Yeah, I’m fine. Doing good.” I was so thankful that they said something because it snapped me out of that nightmare, but at the same time I was scared they would turn the gas off.

I soon learned that I could regulate my exposure by breathing through my mouth when I felt like I was getting too much and breathe through my nose when I wasn’t getting enough. This technique helped me not to feel any negative side-effects for the rest of the procedure. I only wish I had figured that out sooner.

Despite the negative effects, I still thoroughly enjoyed the experience and joked with my wife that I couldn’t wait to have another cavity. It was just a joke, though! And come to find out that I have 8 cavities after today’s dentist appointment!! How is that possible?

The hygienist commended me on how well I brushed and flossed today. She noted that there was very little plaque build-up and announced to another hygienist that I was a model example of how someone with good oral hygiene keeps good care of their teeth and gums. My poster-child status was short-lived when the dentist entered the picture. He looked at the x-ray and started off, “He has an MO on 13, a DL on 3″ and on and on and on. (Just like the nightmares!) The more he talked, the more upset I got. I couldn’t understand how I have that many cavities just 6 months after getting 9 cavities filled! Heather suggested that it might be all the pop I drink. Maybe she’s onto something there.

The other thing that happened at the dentist today was the fuss they made about me circling “yes” on the question, “Has anyone ever told you that you have a heart murmur?” I remember that during my physical to enter the police academy back in 2000, the doctor asked me, “Has anyone told you that you have a heart murmur?” Nobody had, but she informed me that I had. It seemed to me as though it was just a side note and she told me it wasn’t anything to be concerned about and that a lot of people have heart murmurs. I had no idea the fuss they would make over it when I circled “yes”. I tried to change my answer, but they wouldn’t let me!

They told me that when you have a heart murmur you have to take antibiotics an hour before even something as small as a cleaning. I told them I had never had to do that and that I was pretty sure I had circled “yes” to that question at my last dentist and they didn’t do anything about it. They finally met me half way and gave me antibiotic, but didn’t wait an hour.

I told the dentist about my locking jaw; one of the side effects of my jaw surgery. (The other one is complete numbness in my lower-right lip fading down to my chin and jaw-line.) I told him that they usually have to force my jaw shut which is pretty uncomfortable. He suggested that I take a Valium an hour before coming in. So the next experience should be REALLY fun. Gas and Valium. I should be in la-la land. He’s not comfortable doing 8 cavities in one sitting so he suggested we split them up into several sessions. I wasn’t a fan of that idea because of the extra cost of gas each time. He said that he would send the nose piece home with me (apparently the biggest cost of getting gas) and that he would throw in the gas for the rest of the sessions if that was my only concern. Sounded like a good deal to me. More opportunities to get the happy gas. (I’m not addicted…I swear!)

For the record, I still hate the dentist.

Now, off I go to brush and floss…apparently for no reason.


  1. Well, I went to the dentist today for my first installment of fillings. I was scheduled to get four of the eight filled today, but things changed.

    I was supposed to take a Valium so that my jaw would relax and wouldn’t lock, or at least not lock open as badly. I forgot to pick up the prescription last time and they told me they had mailed it, but then never did mail it (good thing because I have a hunch that the mail gets tampered with around here) and therefore the prescription never got filled.

    I layed down in the chair and they asked me if I wanted to watch TV. As I looked up to the TV on the ceiling I noticed that it acted like a mirror, and that if I left it off I would be able to see the whole procedure. I opted out of the TV, also wanting to concentrate on the effects of the gas.

    They hooked me up to the gas and left me there for a few minutes. This time my thoughts were focused on remembering what I was feeling so that I could blog about it. I wanted to compare it to the first time I had gas. I have a friend who says that it is never as intense as the first time and I was curious to know if that was the case.

    They left me alone for several minutes and I began to inhale deeply through my nose. Nothing. I inhaled deeper…still nothing. Just as I was beginning to think that I’d never feel the same sensations as the first time again, the hygenist came back and said, “Ok, we’re going to turn on the gas now, we just had the oxygen on up until now.” She must have seen my chest heaving, sucking up that gas and wondering what the heck was going on.

    As soon as the gas was added to the oxygen flow, I remember the different sound that the air-flow made. It was confirmation to my mind that what I was now inhaling would have that blessed effect. Sure enough, I started to feel a rush in my head that spread to my shoulders and down my arms, stopping short of my elbows. I heard the familiar echo of a drill in the background and noted that while the drill was echoing, the music playing overhead was not. I took a few more deep breaths through my nose and decided to test my ability to control my dosage. The thought came just in time as I began to fear getting overdosed again. I began to breath through my mouth and, sure enough, the effects began to wear off.

    The rest of the procedure I only allowed myself to get truly comfortable one more time. I was able to feel that deep relaxation that pulses down your arms and into your fingers. Prior to that my body posture had been tense and my fingers were interlocked and clenched on top of my stomach. But now I had no choice but to let my arms lay comfortably by my side. That’s how I know for sure that I’m in a good place. Unfortunately, that place is so close to the overdosed state for me that when I got there I began to breathe through my mouth.

    While most of the procedure wasn’t as comfortable and blissful for me as the first time (mostly due to my own fear of overdosing) I noted that the subtle effects of gas were still better than no gas.

    I don’t remember the acute vision experience of the last session, and it’s unfortunate because I was really looking forward to that again. I wanted to “zoom in” on the reflection on the TV and see my teeth and their instruments in detail. But it didn’t happen.

    At one point I thought that I must be trying too hard. As I stopped looking at the reflection and just let my mind go for a few minutes I noticed that I was indeed trying too hard, because now I was feeling it good again. But just as I was starting to enjoy it I thought that I must remember this for my blog and I was snapped back into awareness.

    I think that I ruined it for myself today with my fore-knowledge of writing about the experience, so if I blog about being on gas again, it will be as an after thought and I won’t be concentrating on it during the procedure.

    Luckily, because of my major jaw lock problems, they decided to only do two of the eight and they’re going to split the procedure into two at a time. So I have three more trips to the dentist over the next month. The next one is on Thursday! Hopefully I can enjoy it a little more.

    They referred me to a jaw specialist and told me that the older I get, the worse it will be. The first time they tried to close my jaw I could tell they didn’t realize it was going to be as bad as I told them it would be. The dentist worked and worked at it (causing quite a bit of pain for me) as he tried to force my jaw back towards my head. I finally interjected and told him that my jaw hinges to the left to close. Then I just showed him as I placed my hands firmly on my jaw and with my right hand pushing to the left and my left hand pushing firmly up, then - CRACK! - my jaw finally came closed. The hygenist turned her head in disgust and the dentist let out an audible “ohhh”. It was kind of funny. It’s actually a sort of bonding between the dentist and his staff and me. They feel so sorry for me afterwards and I’m sure they talk about it after I’ve left. I’m always remembered when I come back, a celebrity of sorts; but probably more on the side of circus freak.

    Comment by Tyler — May 12, 2006 @ 11:17 am

  2. You are a total HOOT!! I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. You are one great writer! and thinker! I’ll bet you could turn this story into Reader’s Digest and get paid for it. I’m serious. Everyone would laugh their heads off and think you made it up! And you’d get paid for your honest thoughts!

    Comment by Mom — May 12, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

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