“That Story Lady”

Angela Scott, Author – Storyteller – Ventriloquist

Archive for the ‘Health & Fitness’ Category

Root Canal Removes Fear of Dentist

October 10, 2007

A few months ago, my tooth woke me up at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Although my tooth did not ache then, I noticed a strange sensation as my lip rested on my front teeth.

Retracing the events of what had happened the day before, I remember thinking, “Nothing out of the unusual, it’s probably because I clench my teeth while I sleep, supposedly from stress.” That’s what my trusted dentist of over 25 years had determined as a concern with the health of my teeth. Besides, it was Saturday and I had been given two tickets to attend The Gaither Homecoming Concert in Winston-Salem at 6:00 p.m. that evening.

Just four years ago, one of my classmates attending our 30-year high school reunion told me, “If you have never been to a Gaither Homecoming, you’ve got to go to at least one.” I remembered his recommendation and decided to follow his advice when the opportunity developed.

Two hours after I woke up early on Saturday morning a few months ago, my lip felt heavy as it touched my tooth. I thought, “That is strange. I wonder if I should call the dentist?” No way; I dismissed the thought because it was Saturday morning and fresh strawberries were in season. I had planned to buy a flat of strawberries at the local farmer’s market that morning.

Before my toothache began, my thoughts fancied the taste of eating fresh strawberries. Although once important, eating strawberries was now the last thing I wanted to do.

I reluctantly called my dentist’s answering service and waited not so patiently. My dentist’s new colleague of five years called me about forty-five minutes later and asked me to describe my discomfort. “It doesn’t sound like anything too serious,” he said reassuringly.

When I was in high school, one of my front teeth abscessed. It was a painful memory indelibly marked in my mind, a memory I did not want to ever experience again.

He recommended waiting until Monday to check my tooth. The dentist said, “If your discomfort intensifies just let me know.”

The same dentist who had taken care of me for over twenty-five years was retiring in only two more days; he had hand selected the younger dentist to join his dental practice. It had been over five years since this younger dentist had begun to take care of our my family. I knew I would be well taken care of because of the established relationship of trust with our soon to be retiring dentist, however, those memories from an abscessed tooth in high school still daunted me.

“There is nothing to fear,” I remember thinking. However, the uncertainty of this extremely uncomfortable feeling in my tooth was disconcerting.

Mark Twain’s quote from his autobiography is most befitting of my dental concern, “Life does not consist mainly–or even largely–of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head.

My instructions from the dentist were to call the office first thing Monday morning if I was still uncomfortable, which I was. So, before 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning I was waiting in the dentist’s office to resolve this unrelenting pain. After x-rays and preliminary tests, the dentist was certain something suspicious was going on in my tooth although it was mysterious.

The dental assistant began the necessary preparations for the procedure to determine the source of my dental pain. As the dentist proceeded to work on my tooth, he said, “You were right! The tooth was infected and dying.”

With a radio station playing in a set of headphones on my ears to muffle the drilling noise and with the anesthesia in action, I was comfortable, far beyond the horrific toothache and excruciating pain I experienced with an abscessed tooth and a different dentist over thirty years ago.

Even though this was not my dentist who had cared for me all those years, the tender touch and compassion he performed on the abscessed tooth removed the infection, pain, and my deep seated fear of a root canal and dentists.

Angela Scott

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