Saturday, December 27, 2014

AAA-14 - Answer 4 – The tooth is

Now that the Christmas holidays are over, it’s time to resume the answers to this year’s “Ask Arthur” series. Today’s question from Roger Green relates to a series of my posts this year:

"What is the root of your aversion to dentists? Did you have a bad experience as a kid? Were your parents or dentists vigilant about telling you about brushing and flossing?"

My aversion to dental work is simple: I hate pain, both physical and emotional. The physical is usually taken care of by a few well-placed injections, the emotional is a little harder: I hate being told off for not being diligent enough with my own routine care.

Which is not to suggest that I ignore such care completely, because I don’t. However, I’m hopeless at flossing, so have been given teeny, tiny brushes to use instead. They’re called “inter-spatial” or “inter-dental”, but it’s the same thing. I have much more success with those than I ever had with flossing.

The truth is, flossing freaks me the f*ck out: Some of my teeth are very tight, and floss always gets stuck between them. It’s a feeling I can’t stand, and it’s that feeling that gets me. Some people are driven round the bend by squeaky noises, or nails on a blackboard, but for me it's floss getting stuck. I’ve never had that problem with those little brushes.

I didn't have a particularly bad experience with dentists in childhood, apart from the fact they never used anaesthetic and I always had cavities. I don’t think I ever had anaesthetic until I was a teenager, actually—for that matter, I don’t remember flossing ever being mentioned to me until I was an adult.

My parents weren’t particularly diligent about dental care. I was required to bush every night before going to bed, but that was about it. That’s part of the reason things got bad—I simply had no personal history of dental diligence.

However, when I put my mind to it, I can plough through things I hate, fear, or that make me uncomfortable, and my recent dental work is a good example of that. The old “feel the fear and do it anyway” thing.

So, in general, things are much better with the dental stuff than they have been in years—decades, really—but it’s still a battle for me. Nowadays, though, the battle is more with my bad memory than fear. One enemy under control, one to go.

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