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Sam Dobson Writes: What The Dentist Taught Me About Stress

Friday, November 22, 2013

What The Dentist Taught Me About Stress

So yesterday I spent the whole day stressing and fretting over my afternoon dentist appointment. You see, I hadn't been to the dentist in years. I know, I know, that's not healthy nor smart. I will clarify that I do take care of my teeth otherwise; I brush them two or three times a day, I floss daily, and I rinse with mouthwash when I remember to. It's just that I have been cursed with weak enamel (I know, even more of a reason for me to regularly go to the dentist) and my last two dentists were nightmares who gifted me horrible experiences. Needless to say, the dentist's chair is the last place I ever want to be.

Fearing that I may need a root canal where a piece of old filing had chipped off, I knew I could put it off no longer. So I bit the bullet and made an appointment and then stressed about it everyday til then. So, yesterday dragged on and I spent every other ten minutes turning the situation over and over again in my head, as if mentally I could magically will my teeth to be in perfect health. Nevertheless, I put on my big girl panties, so to speak, and sat my butt down in that reclining chair while the dentist poked and prodded my teeth.

Why do they have to blast the AC in the dentist office? My nerves were already shot, add in freezing cold climate and I'm shaking the entire time. The doc gave me her prognosis while I nervously played with the hem of my shirt. I'm not going to lie, I have quite a few cavities and the need for a couple of crowns. That's what happens when you put your routine dental visits on the back burner. You may be wondering about that presumed root canal. Well, what I thought may need a dreaded root canal doesn't need one, but the tooth right next to it might. That's when I burst into tears.

Yes, I cried at the dentist's office. What could possibly be more embarrassing. Through the tears and my struggling effort to control them, I explained to the doc about my last root canal and how two years later they had become so infected that I had to have emergency extractions. Botched root canal jobs are a surefire way to scare anyone away from that dentist chair with the noisy metal tools. The doc assured me that she would try to fix the problem without having to go that far and that if she had to perform a root canal that it would be done properly. She eased my fear by a microscopic amount, but I appreciated her concern.

So, why am I telling you all this. It's not a cautionary tale about dental hygiene, although if you don't get that out of this too then your not too bright, it's actually about stress. I worried constantly about my dentist appointment from the moment I made it until I got home to my better half. My betrothed took me in his arms and said with a smile, "Don't worry babe, we will fix it". The weight wasn't completely lifted off my shoulders in that one moment, but the more I thought about it the more I realized there was no point in stressing and letting this one thing consume my mind all day long. No matter what I do, I can't go back in time and do things differently. I can't rewind the tape and this time actually go to the dentist every six months so that I would never be in this mess, so why sit here and think over and over again "If only I had...". All I can do is move forward and work to fix the problem.

"If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything." 
 -Ernest Hemingway

My point is, as humans we stress an incredible amount, most of us anyhow. I know this is a weakness of mine. I am a worrywart and I know it's not a healthy lifestyle. One trick is to find an outlet, something you enjoy doing that doesn't allow the stressful thoughts or current worries into your mind. Think yoga, surfing, working out, painting, etc. Sometimes a simple activity is all it takes to make you forget you troubles if only for an hour or two. Aside from that, I guess its about reminding yourself that you can't change the past (unless you are a super genius and build a time machine, in which case I would like to be first in line for that ride). Instead of beating yourself up about what you could have done differently, focus on how to make it better from here on out.

(AKA- Recovering Dentophobe)



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