Caution: dental work ahead

I once saw a video in which Isaac Asimov talked about his two fears, one irrational the other rational. The irrational fear was of flying. The rational fear was of husbands. I mention this because I have a mild case of odontophobia and I openly admit it is an irrational fear, but I have it nonetheless. I just don’t like people poking around in my mouth with sharp objects. Give me snakes, heights, enclosed places, spiders, dogs, broken mirrors, black cats, the lot of bothers me not one iota. But a visit to the dentist…

Sometime last week while I was in Los Angeles, my upper left wisdom tooth*, seemed to suddenly be rubbing against the inside of my cheek, making things somewhat uncomfortable. As the days progressed and the discomfort grew, it began to seem as if that tooth were actually turned sideways so that a sharp edge was pressed against my inner cheek. It gradually got worse. I have a pretty high tolerance or pain and that coupled with my odontophobia makes a strong argument against calling the dentist.

(Also, there is the small fact that I haven’t been to a dentist in many, many years. I take good care of my teeth, have never had serious trouble with them and I can’t stand the earful of prodding you get at the dentist. So I just stopped going.)

Well, Monday night I asked Kelly for the number for her dentist and yesterday morning I called to make an appointment. I said I wanted to get a cleaning, and oh, by the way, I have this wisdom tooth that appears to have a mind of its own and it tearing up my cheek every time I chew food or speak for that matter. I also explained my perfectly rational irrational fear of dentists.

They scheduled me for an appointment on Friday morning. I can make it till then-barely. At present, I am taking 4 Advil twice a day to kill the pain in my cheek and following it with a Benzocane gel chaser. It’s only two days away. I can manage.

It is bothersome enough at this point that I am actually looking forward to going to the dentist and hopefully that he can simply extract the tooth then and there. Kelly seems to think he will have to refer me to an oral surgeon which, to someone with my peculiar affliction, sounds about as appealing as a plague of boils. Let’s just hope he can take care of it there in the office.

So if I seem unusually nervous, giddy, chatty, quiet, excited, reserved, grumpy or silly over the next couple of days, you will forgive me, won’t you?

* I only have 3 wisdom teeth and that is, apparently, genetic. The two lower wisdom teeth never came in. The upper right tooth is missing, a genetic blessing. The upper left one is finally dancing the twist and shout. I learned this more than a decade ago when I had a very excellent dentist who was sensitive to my affliction and treated me accordingly (“Grow up!” he’d say.)


  1. Sorry you’re in so much pain. Sounds rough. I have irrational fears too, though not of dentists! I have noticed that in Japan people tend not to go to dentists – even if they move to the US, they’ll say “there’s no point going to the dentist because they’ll only tell me something’s wrong!” I think they see it like a shifty mechanic finding tings wrong with your car… though I’d argue if you never go to the dentist, you should expect to find a few problems, and with proper maintenance, they’ll go away. Good luck, man!

  2. Juliette, this is one of those times where the annoyance of the problem–specifically said tooth grinding into my cheek–overrides my irrational fear. I just want it to stop hurting. I’d appreciate it if the pain could be mitigated through a procedure less painful than the problem itself, but I’ll be happy when it is all done. 🙂


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