Fear Factor

I’m scared of the dentist.

No. Terrified.

I would rather do just about anything than sit in that chair with that weird lamp hovering over me, a hand poking and prodding around in my mouth.

This is the reason I hadn’t been in nine years.

Sure, lack of insurance helped keep this streak alive, but I was offered a free cleaning from my parents’ dentist and that still didn’t prompt me to go.

Where did this deep seeded fear come from? A handful of horrible experiences as a child. One incident that will forever stick with me was the time they tried to put sealants on and I gagged and cried and the hygienist got mad, threw up her hands and said it couldn’t be done. That day I was filled with shame for my inability to conquer my fear and could not shake the experience of feeling so out of control during the whole thing.

I suffer from two things: sensitive gag reflex and stress induced TMJ, which causes my jaw to LOCK.

So I let the years pass. I tried to take care of my teeth, rinsing with PLAX, flossing everyday and using fancy toothpaste.

Lately, though,  I’ve noticed a crack in one of my fillings. I experience pain on the right side of my mouth and on the same side on the top, it’s sensitive to hot food.

But the real kicker was reading that poor dental health was not only bad for my overall health, it could lead to complications with my pregnancy and my baby.

With the help of therapy and the fact that my insurance provides free dental work for pregnant women, I decided it was finally time to face the music.

80% of my anxiety was relieved when I told the dentist my issues and she said I could raise my left hand to indicate I wanted them to stop whatever they were doing. I also went in knowing I could walk out anytime, for any reason.

I’ve only sat through an exam and have an upcoming cleaning, X-rays and six cavities to fill (so far, unless the x-rays show more damage), but I finally feel like I can get through this.

I’m grateful to my boyfriend for coming with me to that first appointment and for telling me how proud he is of all the things I’m doing for the sake of our unborn child.

In my heart of hearts, I’ve always felt that getting pregnant would motivate me to do all kinds of things. I just didn’t realize it would help me overcome my biggest phobia.

-Carly

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