Since I wrote about doctor visits on Wednesday, I thought I’d give equal time to the other doctors in my life – my dentists.
Here’s a little cautionary tale for those of you who avoid going to the dentist.
I’ve always been a little afraid of going to the dentist; you know, the drill, the noises, the smell. As I gained massive amounts of weight, I used my weight as an excuse to quit going to the dentist. I diligently brushed and flossed my teeth, but avoided making and keeping an appointment for a check-up. Why? Because I was afraid I wouldn’t fit on the skinny little chair that was designed for regular sized people.
The thought of plopping down on the chair, lifting my heavy legs over the side and laying with my big self hanging over the sides of the chair struck terror in my mind. I imagined the repulsion the dentist and his assistant would feel as they had to reach their arms around my big neck and face. Maybe they wouldn’t feel that way at all, but that’s what I thought they’d be thinking. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to use my lax stomach muscles to pull myself up and use the spit bowl, and also worried my weight would prevent the dentist from properly numbing my mouth. All ridiculous worries I know, but worries just the same.
I’d make appointments with the dentist the rest of my family used, but cancel them before the actual day arrived. I got numerous post cards in the mail cheerfully reminding that I was overdue for my check-up. Overdue was an understatement at that point, as I was overdue by several years. Everytime a little card came in the mail I’d look at it, rip it into tiny pieces and throw it in the trash. “No way,” I’d think. “No way I’m going to be embarrassed.” So I didn’t go.
As I got closer to my goal weight my lack of dental visits began weighing heavily on my mind. I knew I could go now, and not be worried about hanging off the sides of the chair or breaking something. Finally, I made an appointment with a new dentist and actually went. Because I was a new patient, I had to endure the “welcome to our practice, why are you here” talk. When he asked me about my last visit to a dentist I tried to just get away with mumbling some nonsense. It didn’t work. He pressed me, and I finally confessed that I hadn’t been to the dentist in over 8 years. He was shocked, and asked me why. I explained that I used to be obese and I was worried about fitting on the skinny chair and using the spit bowl. He just looked thoughtfully at me and said, “I see.” He also explained that during my eight year hiatus spit bowls had become passe and I didn’t need to worry about that part of the experience. “Wow,” I thought. “Technology has moved a long way while I was busy gaining 150 pounds.” Eventually our little chat was over and he turned me over to his assistant, to whom I also had to explain my long absence from dental offices. To her credit, she didn’t say much, but proceeded to x-ray my teeth. I was understandably nervous when the dentist came back into the room. He said, “Didn’t you say it had been eight years since you’ve been to the dentist?” I nodded, waiting for the bad news. And bad news it was because then he said, “Well, you’ve got eight cavities – one for each year you missed.”
So, the point of this little story is encourage you to not only get regular check-ups with your doctor, but also to check in regularly with your dentist. If you don’t, you may be missing some great new technological advances and missing some teeth! Just another expensive reason to lose weight, get healthy and stop being afraid of things!
Have you ever avoided a dentist appointment? Diane