"Where there is creativity, there is hope." ~ Donna Karan

My anxiety about a dentist appointment and my magical teeth

by - Sunday, January 27, 2013

So I went to the dentist this week, finally, after not having been for nearly four years. Not a big deal, right? Well, that's what I kept trying to tell myself, but my efforts were futile. I've been anxious about going back to the dentist for about a year now, and because of this anxiety I've just kept putting it off.
Adding to that anxiety, while searching the web looking for confirmation of the side effects I have been experiencing with Humira, I came across dozens of complaints from people having serious teeth and gum problems while taking the drug. This terrified me all the more, my fear intensified and I continued avoiding making an appointment. It was just really bad and completely uncool, and the avoidance was only exacerbating the anxiety.
Going to the dentist didn't usually phase me. I actually used to enjoy it, and as a child I don't ever remember a visit to the dentist being daunting. I didn't have to wear braces, and I've never needed a filling, so why the sudden fear? I believe the removal of my wisdom teeth is probably to blame.
Ever since I had them removed I stopped seeing the dentist as often as one probably should. I can't really explain this fear because I don't even fully understand it myself, but having my wisdom teeth out really rattled me. I remember crying to my mother after hearing in graphic detail how my maxillofacial surgeon would extract them, desperate for there to be a better way. Not my teeth. Anything but my teeth.
It wasn't an easy experience. I spent a few weeks prior to surgery in a great deal of pain because they were cringe-worthingly impacted. Recovery took a little longer than expected, the stitches gave me a surprising amount of grief and I felt sickly strange. Although my mouth did heal, it was as though the rest of my body didn't fully recover, and since having them hammered out, my life has never been the same. It was the beginning of everything. It brought on the widespread, debilitating musculoskeletal pain and the unrelenting, bone-deep, extreme exhaustion.
There comes a point though when you cannot put things off any longer. Determined, I decided that this year would be the year that I would get over this weird, overwhelming fear and anxiety- and this week I did. I was forced to.
Ever since I started Humira I've been getting mouth sores and my gums are super sensitive. Lately, my gums have been bleeding more often, and more recently I've had shocking tooth pain verging on unbearable. Naturally, I thought my teeth were in trouble.
For two weeks now I've had a throbbing head. It started off as eye pain which progressed to sinus pressure and now teeth pain to boot. When my teeth started hurting I assumed it was a separate issue related to the gum problems, so I was in the dentist chair quick smart. I kind of figured that if I was going to go back to the doctor complaining about teeth pain, they would want dental problems ruled out.
So there I was standing in a dark room while a machine circled around my mouth taking images, totally freaking out. Please let there be no damage from my drugs. Please, please, please. Before I even got my results I confessed all of my concerns to my dentist. Excuse me for being paranoid, but I'm on drugs that have some pretty serious side effects, and my entire face is throbbing with pain.
After seeing my x-ray on the screen, it's no surprise to me that I was absolutely shocked. My teeth and gums are perfect. How could that possibly be? The amount of pain I was in and the side effects I was experiencing suggested otherwise. I seriously thought my teeth were stuffed, given the drugs I'm now on, the intense pain, and my lack of regular check-ups. My oral hygiene hasn't always been 100% either. I don't floss, and some nights brushing my teeth isn't always a priority. I have friends who go to the dentist more frequently than I do and they're all getting fillings and root canals.
I've come to the conclusion that I have magical teeth. Either that, or I'm a talented tooth-brusher.
Apparently sinus infections can cause severe tooth pain. Well, that's what they're suspecting. I got myself worked up in a state for nothing, but hey, at least I got dental problems ruled out.
I was in and out of that building in twenty minutes with my fear conquered, drenched in relief. I drove home feeling so proud of myself and yet so silly at the same time.
Due to the problems I'm having on Humira, I'll definitely be keeping up with six monthly check-ups from now on so that there's nothing to worry about.

Oh it's going to be a good year!
They say don't worry for a reason, people. So take a leaf out of my book and don't do it. Just don't.


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