Peaceful Easy Feeling – Overcoming Dental Anxiety
No, this isn’t a piece about The Eagles, although they are a part of it. It is actually something from the heart …. about going to my dentist.
Before I start waxing lyrical, I should say that my teeth are fine – it’s my gums that have always been the problem. At sixteen years old, my dentist at that time predicted that I would lose most of my teeth by the age of twenty one. Imagine hearing that as a teenager!
Apparently I already had ‘gum disease’ that would create pockets around my teeth that would lead to bone loss and looseness of teeth and them ‘dropping out’.
So I underwent deep and painful cleaning around my teeth to get rid of the plaque, followed by gum surgery. That was invasive and very painful. The experience really etched itself into my memory and since then I have been petrified of going to the dentist.
For a number of years I was fortunate that I had a wonderful dentist who really believed in preventative dentistry. He treated my gum disease and kept the pain levels to a minimum. Then, I moved away and just could no longer see him. My fear and anxiety returned with a vengeance and this prevented me from even looking for a new dentist. I found every reason not to go; just kept putting it off …. for ten years! After all, I was not actually ‘in pain’.
I knew that after all these years things were not well in my mouth and I was getting rather conscious about the aesthetics of my smile.
Recently I met Dr George Druttman of Cap City Dental in Cannon Street in the City of London. Although he is a Brit, George obtained his postgraduate degree in the USA and practised for many years in Sydney, Australia.
He learned a very different attitude to dental health and aesthetics in those countries as well as patient anxiety and pain management. It turned out to be exactly what I really needed.
George really listened to me. He explained that I should not be ashamed or surprised by my anxiety, as my experiences many years ago would explain my fears. He recommended that I should try ‘relaxing gas’ (Nitrous Oxide and Oxygen) as an adjunct to any treatment and persuaded me to give it a go.
Initially I was sceptical of course. However, I was at the stage of being so self conscious about the state of my teeth, not to mention my aesthetics, that I would put my hand in front of my mouth to hide my teeth every time I smiled. I was really fed up with that. So I decided to trust George and give it a try. He calmed me, gave me the ‘relaxing gas’ and to cap it all, asked me what music I liked. He then put The Eagles on through his super duper noise cancelling (Bose, apparently) headphones and treated me for an hour and a half. I was floating and relaxing, enjoying their songs – and then George was done. I couldn’t believe how I’d managed that dreaded treatment so well and I couldn’t believe what I looked like – no more plaque and even a straighter smile, as George shaved off a few millimetres from a ‘hanging’ tooth. I was quite transformed.
Now, a full week since that visit, I still feel so good; my euphoria hasn’t worn off. I will NEVER have dental treatment again unless it is with that ‘relaxing gas’, and with George Druttman wielding the instruments!
What really ‘turned’ me was that George spent a long time talking me through my history, my anxieties and my expectations before he even invited me to the dental chair to look at my teeth. He listened to me, focused on dealing with my fears and explained how the Nitrous Oxide works. He reassured me how safe it was and that I would never ‘lose control or consciousness. I would still be able to hear him and speak to him any time I wanted. It’s not that I wouldn’t feel some discomfort; I just wouldn’t care about it.
And he was right!
I had started as a very anxious, claustrophobic and sceptical patient. Yet after one and a half hours I was calm, relaxed and so happy that I had actually overcome my emotional hurdle – not to mention the amazing difference in my smile.
As the treatment ended, the Eagles were playing Peaceful Easy Feeling and I was feeling the same way. George invited me to look in the mirror. I did and, boy, did I smile! I haven’t stopped since and not once with my hand in front of my mouth .
I now have an appointment to go back for further treatment and I am really looking forward to it (which I still find hard to believe!). He is going to improve my smile even more. I literally can’t wait and would never have dreamt of feeling this way in a million years .
And the reason for this blog? Anyone out there who, like me, can’t bring themselves to go to the dentist through anxiety or fear of pain – go and see George. It may well be life-changing; it was for me.
I’ll let you know in ‘part 2’ about my experiences during that second appointment.