Hidden Disabilities and Dentists

My dentists booking secretary, Judy, got snotty with me because I hadn’t booked my cleaning on the required schedule, like my wife had, every six months.  She wasn’t overt about it, but I got the message and was pissed off. I booked the apointment anyhow since my wife was going in and I could have my appointment at the same time.

The thing I hate most about going to the dentist is the part about not being able to close your mouth, and all the guck that drools down your throat, despite the suction thingie. The very worst part is not the pain, which I can dissociate from, but the damn fluoride treatments in trays, since you have to sit there with them so long and the thick, gooey liquid always ends up going down my throat without my consent.

Photocredit: Only Alice on Flickr,who titled it "I am just a mouth" (this is not a picture of me)
Photocredit: Only Alice on Flickr,who titled it "I am just a mouth" (this is not a picture of me)

Without my consent.

I’m not going to get graphic here, but I’m sure you can guess, given the theme of this blog what kind of thick liquid went down my throat without my consent as a child.

I knew I didn’t want to go to the dentist, but I didn’t really know why clearly until I was sitting in the waiting room, almost in tears at the thought of those damn fluoride trays and what the sensation was too similar to.  Then for good measure had a hastily squashed mini-flashback about it in my dentists waiting room. I thought “I can’t cry here / I can’t do this!”

Then I realized. I don’t have to do it.

I don’t care whether it’s good for my teeth. I’ll let them scrape my teeth but no frigging trays. I have fluoride mouthwash I can spit out when I want to. Just say no to trays! I felt immediately a lot better. Adulthood gives one the blessed right to be irrational. I’m paying for this after all!

So, I follow the dentist in to the treatment room and before she starts I tell her. “I have a sore throat, and I have some personal reasons as well, and it’s very important to me that nothing goes down my throat.” She was a lot less snotty than her receptionist, but I still felt a bit like she must be thinking “oh she’s one of those difficult anxious ones…” I’m sure there’s something in my file about it. 

However, she said she’d get her hygenist in there to wield the suction so nothing would go down my throat. It’s not the bits of tartar or whatever I’m worried about, it’s the fluid, so this wasn’t a complete success, but enough to keep me from iether vomiting or sobbing during the cleaning. The TV mounted on her ceiling helped a lot too. Dissociation is my friend.

After the dentist had finished her scraping, the hygenist came back to do some more stuff, and I had to give my little survivor safety talk to her as well. She clearly thought I was being difficult but gave me the suction thingie to hold.

At last she asked me what flavour of fluoride treatment I wanted. I sighed inwardly, and said to myself “I think I can handle this.” I said outwardly “mint”. She handed me a little cup and asked me to swill it around my mouth for a minute. No g’dammed goopy trays! I was all prepared to balk at the trays but blessedly, didn’t have to.

So this is why I don’t go to the dentist every frickin six months, Judy. If you think it’s awkward to have an anxious patient asking you to be extra careful, you have no idea how awkward a flash-backing sobbing vomiting survivor would be.

Photocredit:  patries71 on Flickr
Photocredit: patries71 on Flickr

0 thoughts on “Hidden Disabilities and Dentists”

  1. You again managed to put into words something I have been trying for and have been unable to. “Survivor safety talks”. You really said such a mouthful with just a few words. Those little talks are something I think about every time I see the doctor, especially the gyno. I always have to tell her “Wait. Before you start. Please. I need you to tell me exactly what you are going to do before you do it. I do not want to be surprised with something, say, up my vagina. Also, please use the smallest possible speculum.” Then after she agrees, I wonder to myself “Does she know about me? Does she know why I am asking this?” It’s an especially humiliating experience when I can’t quite keep from crying during either the talk or the exam.

    By the way – survivors’ fear of the dentist is a documented and researched thing. I wanted to stand up and applaud for you when you wrote how you realized “Hey, I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to here. I am an adult.” That is a step from surviving to thriving in my book!

  2. That’s interesting about the dentist fear research. I’ll have to have a look for that information. We took an informal poll at a survivor 12 step group I was in for awhile once, and of 14 women in the room, all of them iether brushed and flossed their teeth to extremes or had a had time doing it at all.

    Yup, I was pretty proud of myself too. Thanks!

    I’m pretty impressed you can even go to the gyno – I haven’t been in about 8 years, cause I can’t deal with it. We have universal health care here, which is a very good things, but it means that the beurocrats decide what the length of a doctors visit should be so the doctors are always really rushed. It’s hard to get them to slow down and I think the system insensitized them to people’s feelings. I can’t have some one treat my vagina like an object. One of my back of the head projects is to see if I can find some sort of specialized service for trauma survivors locally that might be more sensitive. I could probably cope with my wife there, but still, the disrespect is astounding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *