I think it all started in grade two when I broke one of my front teeth. But looking back now, I once remember falling "up" the stairs at a friend's house and driving my teeth into my lip. I was upset and I think my mom was even more upset. I'm quite certain my dislike of stairs came from that incident, so perhaps it was also the foundation for my tooth paranoia.
Anyway, that tooth that was broken never aligned with my other teeth, and my bottom teeth are also quite crooked. People tell me that they never noticed, but I can't help but feel they're full of shit. But that's probably just because I've been self conscious about the whole thing for so many years.
Earlier this year I decided it was time to do something for me. After being kicked so many times, I needed an improvement to look forward to. The thing that cinched it was the whole Bell's Palsy thing. I figured if it didn't completely clear up, my face would be asymmetrical, and I'd be self conscious about that. I didn't want to have to be self conscious about my teeth too. And if it did clear up, and I went ahead with the ortho work, I'd end up being one hot mama. :)
The Bell's Palsy did get much better (I'm still seeing small improvements, and I'm still not "good as new", but definitely not self conscious about it now) and the braces went on my top teeth earlier this month. To say I was scared shitless is an understatement. But once they were on, I was like, "Um... this is it? Well this isn't so bad!" Don't get me wrong - the experience of having someone playing with my teeth like that was not something I enjoyed. I'm still dreading having them put on my bottom teeth. But at least I know what to expect when they're ready to move to that step.
Part of my treatment is the extraction of 3 or 4 teeth. Two molars on top, and either two molars on the bottom or one of the front bottom teeth. Today I had the first one extracted. When my dentist and I were talking before the procedure, she expressed concern that she might break the wire on my braces during the extraction. I was already panicking, this moved me to completely panicking. But it didn't hurt. At all. Oh my, but the pressure. It was the molar next to my eye tooth on my right side. (Stick your tongue there - it's a small molar, right? Yeah, the gaping hole in my head disagrees with that now.) Anyway, as she was wiggling it back and forth to work it out, the pressure on my left front tooth was crazy. I might have been hyperventilating a little bit. Just a little. And during the wiggling she says, "We're going to go nice and slow because we don't want to break off any of the roots." OMFG.
I think my dentist (who I absolutely adore, in spite of her profession) was upset over the whole thing as well. She told me when I first arrived that it bothered her to have to remove a perfectly good molar that's never even had a filling, but she obviously understood that it needed to go to make room for the teeth that are crowded together at the front. It also seemed to bother her to know that she caused me to be so upset. I think she's dreading next Thursday's appointment for the second extraction almost as much as I am.
I've been seeing my dentist since I was 11. For the past 21 years, I've heard my mother say, "I'm not sure if I'd want to see her for an extraction. I'm not sure if she'd be strong enough to do it." So as I was mentally preparing for today, those words were ringing in my ears, adding to my paranoia that something would go wrong.
Throughout all of this, I'm trying to remind myself that these people are all professionals. They know what they are doing. My only job here is to follow their instructions regarding care, and to pay them for their talent. I don't need to worry or panic. But it's hard to remember that when it feels like your teeth might explode out of your head.
At least I now know what to expect next Thursday. Maybe it won't be so terrifying.
Does anyone have any recommendations for a small thank-you gift I can get for my dentist? I think she deserves it.