Mindful Moment: Dentists, Fear, and Overcoming

My mouth is a mess.

I could give you lots of excuses as to why I haven’t been to the dentist like:

Money.

Time.

Insurance.

But we trying to be honest here, so: my mouth is a mess because I hate dentists. Not pain, not the machines, not the process. The dentists and everybody that works with them.

I hate the entire process of dentist offices. The anticeptic smells accompanied by photos of terrible mouths compared to socially acceptable ones that have been straightened, whitened, and replaced with implants.  The too chipper receptionist with the mounds of paperwork. The petty dental technician shoving x-ray pads between your teeth like she’s packing sardines. The heavy handed dental hygienist who pokes in your mouth like there is gold instead of decay. The dental assistant who is clearly grossed out by your bad teeth genes and talks to you like a kindergartener–loud and slow like it’s your comprehension (not teeth) that needs work. The extra pushy accounts payable person who wants to charge you in blood and new borns as you sit with cottonwads and water sprayers in your mouth. The actual dentist who looks at your mouth with pity but never looks you in the eye.

I hate dentist offices.

And yet, here I am, smile corroded beyond recognition, teeth crumbling in my mouth. I have let it go too far. So now I am getting ready to suffer the consequences.

I don’t have terrible hygiene. I brush all the time, sit on the couch flossing and picking with the newdangled dental floss/toothpick thingies that the dentist recommends. I got mouthwash. Sensitive gum and cavity fighting toothpaste with baking soda. I do what I am supposed to. Yet looking into my mouth, you’d swear I have been smoking meth for years while never having bothered to pick up a toothbrush.

I have been struggling with expensive dental care since I was a little kid. And after a while, I got tired of the lectures and looks of horrror and judgment from all the dentists. So I stopped going.  Because who wants to sit in a chair in pain listening to somebody wag their verbal finger in your face? I DO all that crap they say do. It doesn’t work. My entire family has dental issues: braces, crowns, fillings, dentures. I didn’t come from a family who didn’t take care of their teeth. It is just something we all struggled with, and I really didn’t need yet another dentist patronizing me about my “lack of care”. Kiss every part of this beautiful black ba-donk.

Meanwhile, I’m adulting hard den-a-mug this year. So my first real present to myself for making 38 years without a murder charge is going to the dentist. I found a spot that can knock me out so I don’t have to hear the condescension lurking behind those big pretty white, wide toothed smiles that everybody that works in dentist offices have. I am squashing my fear in favor of no more swollen pussed filled faces from abcesses and sinus infections, and being able to chew without mincing all my food first.

Fear of being judged leads to problems. You start to reject the help you need to preempt what people might say about you needing help. You paint yourself into a corner and end up needing more help than when you started.

So my mindful moment today is: I release my fear of judgment. Even if others do judge me, it is not my weight to carry. I take up full responsibility for myself and my needs and put down the weight of the fear that sidelines me.

Wish me luck.

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