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

Posted By Tyler On 28th April 2006 @ 23:20 In Opinion, Tooele | 2 Comments

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.

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