Dental Phobia

June 2, 2008
By Samuel Barr, Medford, OR

Ever since my front teeth snapped like two twigs I have had a fear of the Dentist. Not the man or woman performing the maintenance my pearly whites require, but the building. Whether it was that familiar smell of cleaning products emanating from every orifice, or the anxiety of the waiting room, knowing that shortly I will be at the mercy of hundreds of pokes and prods I'm not sure. What I do know is that I would rather take a blow from a Los Angeles phone book to the face than make my routine check up. No matter how horrifying my trips to the dentist were however, afterwards I always have the same epiphany, realizing that it was a generally a necessity, and I was much better off with it.

It was a Saturday morning, and the sounds of the squeaking basketball shoes filled the South Medford High School's upper gym. Being my first basketball game on my high school's AAU basketball program in the 6th grade, excitement and adrenaline pulsed through my body as we prepared ourselves for the challenge to come. Our coach sternly recited the mandatory pre-game speech to try give us the edge we needed. My impatience was further irritated when I discovered I would be sitting the bench for almost the entire first quarter. Finally, after 5 minutes of excruciating waiting, my coach gestured me to the stats box. I was finally playing. Ironic that I waited what seemed like an eternity for the chance to play for roughly seven seconds before it happened.

The play was a throw-in from out of bounds that we had practiced so often I could remember it as effortlessly as breathing. Dipping and dodging across the floor to get as close to the ball as I could, I ran my pattern. My quest to attain the bright orange globe was shortlived, as I was hindered when two opposing players stepped directly infront of me, creating a seemingly impenetrable wall. My momentum was far too much to simply stop or even avoid the blockade of bodies before me, which left me the only option of barging directly through them, which must have looked like a group of school children playing red rover. If only I had made it through unscathed. As soon as I broke through and saw the light, my momentum had shifted directly towards the ground below me, and my two good friends were holding my arms back, preventing them from stopping the floor which was advancing towards me at a very high velocity. Luckily, my two front teeth absorbed 100% of the fall. Ouch. I came to looking up at the not so concerned faces of my teammates standing over me like freezing cold woodsman huddling over a fire. "There's a piece of his tooth over there," replied my teammate Johnny lazily, as if it happens all the time. Apparently I had been unconscious for about 15 seconds, which I guess wasn't long enough to qualify as serious.

Total shock engulfed me, as I probed the back of my teeth with my tongue. I noticed a large gap of nothing where there should have been teeth. A large upside-down 'V' was knocked out of my middle two teeth on the top row of my mouth. Pain wasn't present, most likely due to the shock, and I vaguely remember somebody giving me their shoulder as I hobbled down the stairs towards a car. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I could hear my dad conversing with one of his good friends, luckily enough a dentist, who was in town at the time and could help me in any way he could. In the state that I was in, I estimated that the car ride was between 30 seconds and 45 minutes, but whichever it was, suddenly I was hoisted out of the car and then slumped into an all familiar dentist chair.

Shivers violently shook my entire body as the shock died and the pain became a reality. It was the type of pain that would keep you mobile, and it was difficult to even keep my mouth pryed open wide enough for the dentist to continue with his procedure. Both the longest and the shortest hour of my life ensued. Jokes flew back and forth from my father's and the dentist's fully equipped mouths, as instrument after instrument were guided into my flawed visage. The levels of sensitivity of my damage nerves were the equivelant of squeezing a salt covered lemon that had been marinated in liquor for two days directly onto an open wound. The pieces of my teeth that were found were carefully reapplied in a perfect manner, the only problem being not all of the shards were found. When the operation was finally completed, I still had a slight chip missing from my right front tooth, leaving me with an obnoxious lisp and a drastic blow to my self image.

I still hold onto the fear that I acquired at the age of 12, and most likely it won't be leaving until I can successfully perform dental services on myself. Even though the fear might follow me to the grave, I can always reminisce on the day that my flawless chompers were shattered alongside my ego, and know my fear is nothing.

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