Tuesday, April 12, 2011


One leg at a time, I put my big girl pants on today.

You see, I have dental anxiety. I like the dentist about as much I like taking tests. The truth is, I know the fear is all in my head, and kind of irrational. Still, I fret.

Since I found a troubled tooth in my mouth recently, I knew it was time to be brave and make an appointment. I got a few different referrals from friends, based on the following questions:

"Is your dentist generous with novocaine?"
"Does your dentist shame you when you haven't flossed in a year?"
"Is your dentist gentle and patient and make you feel safe?"
"Does your dentist give you a prize after your cleaning?"

Just kidding about the last one.

Gone are the days of stickers and pencils and temporary tattoos and little plastic stencils. In my thirties, I now get samples of toothpaste, floss and mouthwash. My last dentist in Seattle gave away free lip balm. Best grown-up prize ever!

This afternoon I went to my new dental office (located on the same street as our old apartment). The office itself is a converted house, so it felt cozy inside. Everyone I met was very nice and treated me with care. They reassured me that lots of patients are nervous the first time and that I had nothing to fear.

What I really loved was when my hygienist asked me to tell her exactly what I was afraid of. My answer was, "The possibility that something bad might happen."

Like I said, it's all in my head. I had dental trauma when I was a child, so my fear does have a source. I've just never been able to shake it, no matter how many positive experiences I've had since. Thankfully, Dr. Esterburg is kind and reminds me of my dad. I knew right away I was in good hands. Plus, several people from our church have seen him for dental care since they were young, and now their kids and grandkids see him, too.

That troubled tooth I told you about? It doesn't hurt, but it does have a notch at the top where tooth meets gumline. Strange and concerning. Turns out, it's from chewing too much. Perhaps my daily 1-3 pieces of gum habit has something to do with it. When both the hygienist and the dentist confirmed this, I asked Dr. Esterburg if he had ever tried Trident's Tropical Twist gum.

I'm kind of obsessed.

© photo credit: gosublogger.com

I'm not sure if he was amused or not, but what he didn't do was change his mind about me changing my habit.  Even so, minus all of the scraping during my cleaning, the procedure wasn't too bad. I get to go back next month for a filling in the notched part of the tooth, which means novocaine.

And a future with orange-flavored Tic Tacs.


  1. Hah, it's always normal to fret a bit, but of course we can't go on like that - teeth need some love. You could actually ask the 4th question. You'll never know if you can get some "cuter" treats for being brave in the chair! But all told, it's good that you've found a dentist who makes you feel comfortable all the time. Huzzah!

    1. Thanks, Sean! I'm sure to ask for a sugar-free lollipop after my visits now. :)

  2. This post is featured on my dentist's testimonial page: http://www.southcourtdental.com/contact_us/mission_statement.asp. He called me asking for permission to use it. Great guy with a wonderful staff!