Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Beauty of Laughing Gas

I have always hated going to the dentist. In fact, I go to great extremes and have built up quite the pain tolerance in order to avoid a visit to the dentist office. I think it all began with that unfortunate biking accident I had at the age of 8. I knocked out my front tooth and damaged three other teeth. I had to have a root canal on that front tooth by the age of nine. Now, that is a pretty traumatic procedure for a little kid (especially the root canals of 20 years ago).

Then there was the experience my first year of college. First time away from home, I didn't have a roommate, and hadn't really gotten to know anyone in my dorm or classes. What should happen in my complete state of loneliness? One of the teeth that had been damaged in the accident explained above decided it was time to die. The tooth abscessed, my face swelled to the size of a basketball and I was sure that I would never go out in public again. You know it is bad when your father races up to get you, due to your incoherent and delirious call for help, and begins to cry when he sees you. Not good. No wonder I'm a little tense whenever I sense that I am going to have to visit the masters of torture.

Which brings me to today's post. I have been feeling a bit of pressure where I have had to have two root canals (both due to that tragic day on my bike). I thought that the prophesy given to me by Dr. Alexander was coming true--I was going to have to get another root canal on one of the two remaining damaged teeth. I hemmed and hawed as long as I could but finally broke down and set up an appointment to get things checked out. I was greatly disappointed when my dentist told me that I was going to have to see a specialist, an infection had set in above my teeth and I needed to get it taken care of quickly.

The specialist was able to work me in this afternoon. After looking over my x-rays, he broke the news that he was going to have to re-do my two root canals. My face must have betrayed my panic, not to mention the steel grip I had on the arm rests of the dental chair, because Dr. Shipp preceded to tell his nurse to break out the laughing gas to "ease my anxiety."

Holy moly, was that good stuff. I have never been offered laughing gas before, but as I breathed the magic stuff through my nose (steadily, for about two and 1/2 hours) I couldn't help thinking that this should be a part of every dentist visit. Sure, I had to work harder to not say the jumble of absolutely idiotic things that were constantly running through my mind. And because Dr. Shipp advised me to listen to my IPod during my visit in order to drown out the sound of the drill, I had to keep reminding myself that dancing in the chair was probably not a good thing. Also, wanting to sing along, especially when Offspring's Come Out and Play came on, was a temptation I almost didn't succeed avoiding. The experience was a whole lot more enjoyable, and anxiety-less, than I ever remember it being.

Now that the laughing gas and numbing agents have worn off, my teeth are killing me and the antibiotic I have to take for the infection seems to be one warning away from being lethal. It isn't how I imagined spending part of my spring break, but it wasn't as bad as I feared. I even might be more willing to book regular appointments with the dentist. I just have to make sure they have that laughing gas on hand. :)