Having my mental illness properly treated helped fix my cracked tooth. This is a true story. A long time ago (but in this galaxy and not one that was far far away) I had a giant filling in one of my molars that cracked. And because it was giant, it also cracked my tooth so that I essentially had half a jagged tooth.
I was supposed to have the dentist do a bunch of procedures that would "restore the tooth" but seemed way to scary for me to think about. So while there was a temporary filling (intended to last for just a week or so until they could prepare the tooth for a temporary crown) I just ignored the problem.
I continued to ignore the problem when the temporary filling came out taking with it some more jagged bits of tooth.
Ugh. This is a terrible story.
Whenever I thought about going to the dentist, I began spinning out in an anxious whirlwind of AAAAGHHH! And so I figured I would just ignore the gaping hole and its jagged companion. I could not bring myself to go to regular dental cleaning because I knew that they would notice and comment on Big Jagged Gaping Hole and then I would have to acknowledge the problem.
I much preferred just pretending that it wasn't an issue.
What if the dentist laughed at me and made me stand up in front of the whole class and told them what a terrible dental patient I was.
What if I got lectured about what a terrible plan it was to ignore this tooth.
What if they told me that not fixing the tooth had led to some horrible disease that was terminal and contagious and I would need to be quarantined immediately from my family.
What if they had gone back to using Soviet-era dental practices that involved no use of anesthesia for painful procedures. As a deterrent for future dental missteps.
Knowing that these are all imaginary was not helpful whenever I thought about going. Also there is the financial disincentive. There was always something else I would rather spend the money on than fixing the Big Jagged Gaping Hole.
So this week the last remaining parts of the real silver filling started coming separate from the tooth, creating a horribly sharp crevasse to trap food and my tongue and any child who happened to walk past the Big Jagged Hole.
And I decided that I needed to brave the imaginary horrors of the dentist in order to combat the problem I had ignored for far too long.
What does this have to do with mental health? And why when I sought treatment for my mental health did I not have tooth fixed forthwith?
Being able to get my anxiety under control and being able to suppress the irrational voices of fear surrounding what is really a routine thing... having one's dental health seen to.
Ah! There is the connection with mental health! They rhyme!
So anyway, now I have a temporary crown which will soon be permanent. And I only almost cried while I was waiting for them to examine my tooth. And I only almost had a panic attack imagining that I was going to suffocate while they were taking molds of the inside of my mouth.
I did tell dentist about anxiety and he was good about checking in with me to make sure I was doing okay. I don't think I am the only person he has dealt with who has some trepidation about having a power tool in their mouth.
I may now have to schedule regular cleanings instead of hoping that ignoring my teeth was something I could get away with since there were no grown-ups in charge of making sure I did right by them (the teeth).
Grateful Crap: modern anesthesia and improvements in the dental arts
took care of Great Jagged Gaping Hole in my tooth
meds: 200 mg lamotrigine
Quaker, teacher, parent,