I never thought I'd be able to write about my teeth, my phobia has been so strong that for the majority of my life I have not been able to talk to anyone about my teeth, or dentists, in a very long time. I think writing it down is going to end up being a long task, as I don't seem to be able to compress it down. My dental treatment and teeth have been on my mind almost every day for years but I do believe that I am getting past the fear at last, although I'm not quite there yet.
I can't imagine why anyone would want to read my story, but here goes....
Part One - Childhood
I'll start at the beginning. As a child I always tried to please others and do what the grown-ups told me to do. I brushed my teeth every night and nearly every morning, didn't eat that many sweets and always went to the dentist regularly.
My childhood dentist was an older stern woman who didn't stand any messing around, her chair side manner was very brisk to say the least, but to me she was an adult and I did whatever I could to please her.
Around the age of 8 or so I started to get problems with decay, which were sorted out with fillings. The dentist used a slow, belt driven drill and I thought it went on for ages. About this time trials of fluoride were starting and I remember having my mouth filled with rolls of cotton wool as she brushed fluoride directly onto my teeth, I then had to sit there watching a big clock tick off four minutes before I could remove the cotton wool and rinse.
As all my adult teeth came through, one by one all the rear molars were drilled and filled. Every time I was told that I was not looking after my teeth, I didn't brush, ate too much sugar etc, my protests were scorned, I wasn't telling the truth, she knew the truth from looking in my mouth.
The sight of the big clock on the table at the start of a visit made me happy though, as the fluoride treatment was the last thing she did at the end of the series of visits, in my mind it was fluoride then no need to see her again for a few months.
This dentist had a big thing about overcrowding of teeth and many of my friends had teeth removed by her, just to make room. My teeth were a bit crooked so she gave me an x-ray to decide which ones to remove. What she found was that I had another set of rear adult teeth waiting to come through! This is something that is very rare and I have only spoken to one other person who has had extra teeth grow.
She said there was nothing for it but to remove the adult teeth in the way, to allow the second set through. This was done gradually though, she monitored the movement of the new teeth by x-rays and only removed the exposed ones when she thought it was time. She would remove three or four at a time, I would be knocked out with gas which gave me horrible dreams. Over the space of a couple of years I had about 14 teeth removed.
These new teeth were just as bad though as the last lot and pretty soon they were all drilled and filled just like the last ones. I was forever in the dentist chair being worked on, that slow drill whirring away in my mouth. I once asked if she could use the fast drill that she had, to speed up the process but she told me that she didn't like that and carried on.
One of the last things that I had done as a child, probably a teen by now, was an extraction. Just a single one. you would have thought that I would be OK with that, after all I had had so many but this was to be done with me awake, with just a local anaesthetic from a needle. This really scared me, I can't remember ever having a local for any of the fillings I had had previously. I do remember being distressed during the extraction, being told to stop moving as I was making it hard her for, or that she was nearly done. This was a big thing of this dentist, it was all done at her pace, she wouldn't stop for me to have a rest, I had to sit still with my mouth open and let her do whatever she wanted for however long she wanted.
In the end I did rebel a bit, every time the dentist stopped I sat forward, preventing her from carrying on until I sat back, although this didn't please her it was the only tiny bit of control I had over the pace of treatment.
I went so many times to the dentist, that my mum stopped going with me unless I was to have an extraction done. I wanted my mum there, but eager to please, when she suggested that I didn't need her, I agreed to go on my own, just to make her happy.