A year ago, I was a different person. I would stare at the ground rather than give someone eye contact. I would cover my mouth with my hands when I spoke. A year ago, I didn’t think I was the same worth as other people. I wasn’t normal. I was dirty… I was beneath them… I had not seen a dentist in 15 years. Not since they made a comment towards a teenage me, about my lack of effort teeth brushing. I wish I could turn back, and not let the phobia of dentists build up from there.
I was brought up by my nan. She only told me to brush my teeth before seeing a dentist. She would buy the toothbrush especially for the occasion. I ended up at 11 having 2 of my adult teeth removed. No one ever explained they would be gone forever.
At 18, my tooth chipped. There was no way I was going to go to a dentist. So I just coped with it. Over the years, I got infections. I dealt with them myself. Some of my back teeth cracked.
At the age of 30, I really got a bad infection in my tooth (the chipped one). It became painful, the abscess grew large, and I was terrified.
My mother-in-law phoned to make the appointment.
How could I ring to make the appointment? Surely they would wince when I’d explain I haven’t seen a dentist in 15 years… or gasp, or mutter how stupid I was… Or say something that would instantaneously make me feel sub-human.
Did I even deserve to be seen? When all around me surrounded are the ‘good people’, the people who brush well, and have regular checkups… What if my teeth are the worst the dentist has ever seen? What if he lets me know, as I’m sat in the chair, and he hurls abuse about how lazy and how it’s the worst mouth he has ever seen.
Anyway, an appointment was made for me, a week later…
I was shaking in the reception, covered my mouth as I spoke to give my name.
I kept looking at the door… Finally, my name was called.
I went into the dentist’s room and couldn’t contain myself. I burst into tears. I felt so ashamed, so worthless, so beneath everyone. I couldn’t keep it in. The Dentist was lovely. He spoke for a while; the dentist’s nurse rubbed my shoulders. They assured me that I was not the first one who has been terrified about coming along, and they have seen people from all walks of life. Even people who haven’t been to a dentist in over 20 years.
The first appointment he gave me antibiotics for my infection. He told me I would need 4 teeth out. When really I had expected that he would need to take out them all and give me false teeth.
He was really sweet and kind and everything was done at my pace.
I ended up needing a partial denture. To be honest I was so happy. Because now I have a smile. My smile isn’t perfect… but I don’t feel indifferent no more, I have stopped holding my hands over my mouth when I talk, stopped looking at the floor when I talk… I give eye contact!!!
Today I had my 6-month checkup. The dentist was pleased with everything. These days, I feel normal, I don’t feel judged instantly because of my mouth. I feel happy, I feel more confident.
Please for anyone who is avoiding the dentist, please just book the appointment. Please stop being so hard on yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? Every single one of you is worth millions, and we need to begin to see that. We are not indifferent to others, we are all the same, with different situations, and different upbringings, but inside we are identical. Don’t let your fear prevent you from being happy.
Story 1 of 24