I loathe the dentist. I have loathed going since my first dental appointment when I was five. Back then, I was reminded of all the things I shouldn’t eat and how important it was to floss my teeth. I remember the metallic smell of the office. I remember the first time a nurse held my hand when a local anesthetic was injected into my gums to handle a cavity. Several years later, when I came home for winter break from college and got a wisdom tooth pulled out, I was admonished for eating popcorn before an appointment. Those moments shaped my view of dentists. I never wanted to see one. Ever. I would rather see my gynecologist versus any dentist.
So, I didn’t . . . until I was forced to about ten year ago when I had a toothache that wouldn’t go away with painkillers. That emergency dental visit confirmed that I needed to start seeing a dentist for a bi-annual cleaning and get updated x-rays to make sure nothing else was amiss. I found a great dentist in our neighborhood. I got the hubs to start going too. Naturally, years of tooth neglect and not flossing resulted in more dental visits and new dental specialists.
I was referred to a periodontist since my gums were not in great shape, which meant periodontal cleaning to rotate with regular cleaning. Then, I was referred to an oral surgeon to remove other wisdom teeth. Once the other wisdom teeth were extracted, I thought my teeth issues would resolve themselves. Wrong! The gums were still an issue and would require gum surgery to repair them, which petrified me. Fortunately, my hubby got his gum surgery first – we had similar teeth issues. Once he assured me that the surgery wasn’t so bad, I was okay with it. I ended up getting the surgery almost a year after I had given birth to my second daughter, as dental procedures are limited during pregnancy and postpartum.
During this time, I began to contemplate getting braces. My teeth never grew out straight. I’ve lived with a tooth gap for most of my life and thought getting braces as an adult would be a waste of time and money. I consulted an orthodontist and after a lengthy discussion with my periodontist and dentist, I decided to get braces. Getting my teeth aligned would improve my teeth health.
Which brings me to today, four days into wearing traditional metal braces. My mouth is a little sore. Flossing is a nightmare. Foods taste slightly metallic. I miss tortilla chips and nuts. A part of me wishes I had taken better care of my teeth decades ago, but there’s no time like now. Further, I can be the oral health example for my children and help them take care of their teeth. During a spring when I have focused on physical health through diet and exercise, adding dental health to the mix is a no-brainer.