5 Tips on How to Make Going to the Dentist Less Awful

#DailyWings: “My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.” -Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Fluorescent light burning in your eyes. The taste of rubber gloves in your mouth. The strange vacuum sensation on your tongue when a resident holds the suction tube too close. 

Okay, so I won’t lie and pretend that I don’t shed a couple tears at the dentist’s. Because I do. I don’t even realize how incredibly uncomfortable I am until there’s a tiny, metallic engine drilling against my teeth. At that point, acting my age is the least of my worries and I am holding on to the rail for dear life, praying to the gods that it will be over soon. 

Today, I got three fillings – one on the bottom, two on top. (Not exactly a welcoming event after a dream trip to Boston.) Ever since I was little, my teeth have been prone to cavities. I brush twice a day, floss nightly and don’t eat a lot of sugar. I don’t drink coffee or soda or tea (only on occasion). I do everything a responsible tooth-owner should do. Unfortunately, my dentists have said I can attribute my soft teeth to genetics. Not even drinking milk will help. 

The thing is, I haven’t been to the dentist in years. This time around, I knew there would be a degree of, er, unpleasantness, but I didn’t really prepare myself for just how much it sucked. The worst part was having my gums injected–like, using a needle–with anesthesia. It really, really hurt. The only good thing is, that was the first step they did so I got it over with pretty quickly.

If I didn’t have Pandora blasting in my ears,
I don’t think I would’ve survived all
three “tooth shots.”

The next hour was filled with drilling, spraying, sucking. It was still pretty awful, but not as tortuous as the injections. All I had to do was nod yes-I’m-okay-not-really-though-thanks-for-asking-doc, tilt my head either way and open my mouth really wide. With my earphones plugged in and my imagination whirring, I managed to survive yet another afternoon of fillings. 
Because nobody likes going to the dentist and because I like you guys enough to not want you to suffer an hour and a half of drills and trills, here are just a few ways to make your next trip to the dentist less of a toothache – if only to pass the time: 

  • Think about your last kiss. Even if you’ve been single for years (aka, moi), this trick works wonders with your mind. Nothing makes your lips feel less sexier than when they’re stretched open and pulled back, blaring your incisors. Forget about where you are. Forget the dentist. Remember the last time you were locking lips? Yes, well, focus on that instead. 
  • Listen to angry music. Not that you’re angry when you’re at the dentist, but listening to loud, I-wanna-rip-your-head-off lyrics just might block out the sound of Doc drilling in your teeth. I recommend Dragonforce or Hammerfall. If you want something more soft-core, try songs by The Script. 
  • Eavesdrop on your dentist. I don’t know about you, but my dentists like to talk a lot. Whether it’s filling a tooth or just maintenance cleaning, they chit-chat with the residents and with me. Of course, all I can do is nod my head and manage an, “Ah-hah.” But the conversations they have can actually be kind of, well, entertaining. They’ll talk about their kids, their colleagues, their studies. 
  • Think about your kids/significant other/ mommy. Wouldn’t you rather it be you who is going through all this pain than your kids or anyone else you care about? I know I would. 
  • Count the freckles on the resident’s nose. Play connect-the-dots. Or, if you’re more in a blah mood, pretend each freckle is a pimple and imagine popping it. With a tweezer. Feeling better? 

Any other ideas on how to survive dentist appointments?


3 responses to “5 Tips on How to Make Going to the Dentist Less Awful”

  1. I sympathize with the needle! Same thing happened to me when I had fillings; it hurts to have that thing jammed into your gums.

    Eavesdropping on the dentists and hygienists can be interesting . . . LOL. It’s odd the way people talk as if the patient isn’t listening. :P

  2. I’m going to remember some of your tips the next time I go to the dentist. LOL I just think of myself on a beach with a nice alcoholic beverage. You’re too young to know about that. ;)

  3. I definitely try to have the dentist make small talk or I just close my eyes and pretend to sleep while humming lyrics to songs.

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