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April 15, 2011

Irrationality of Horribilization

Jenny Doh
I hate going to the dentist. Always have. In fact, there was a long stretch of time when I didn't go and the longer I put it off, the worse my fear got. I horribilized in my head, all the horrible things that would happen if I went. Turns out that when I did finally go, nothing horrible happened. They checked my teeth, told me that I had no cavities and told me to remember to floss. Since that particular visit, I've been going regularly but I still dread going and I still think that with every visit, something horrible will happen.

With my kids, it's even worse. When they were much younger, when they did get some cavities, I felt such shame. (It's a mother thing.) It felt like a report card on parenting that the dentist gave me ... "Your daughter has 1 cavity and your son has 2." I convinced myself that the cavities were a reflection of my poor mothering skills.

If my kids could chime in right now, they'd tell you that in our house, I am a bit intense about the whole teeth thing as I walk around badgering them day and night ... making sure that they've brushed, flossed, and rinsed.

So anyway, this spring break, I took the kids to the dentist. And because we had had some problems with our dental insurance for a few months, I had missed a couple of regular appointments for them and me. And sure enough, I started horribilizing what would happen at this appointment. Had they brushed enough? Had they flossed enough? What if the dentist came out to chastize me for all the horrible things that I was doing, as evidenced by the cavities and other oral hygeiene issues that were going on in their mouths?

Horribilizing is what I do when it comes to teeth.

So it was the moment of truth. 1 Spring Break. 3 Dental Checkups. The results?
Me: zero cavities.
Monica: zero cavities.
Andrew: one cavity.

The staff asked in the most non-horrible way ... "So, when can you bring Andrew back to get his cavity filled?"

"Um ... how about in two weeks?"

"You got it. We'll see you in two weeks. Oh by the way, Andrew was wondering if we could do something so that his 'fangs' were less noticible and so we told him that his 'fangs' were normal but that if he wants us to try and sand them down, we could do it but we'd need your permission first."

"Uh ... that would be a no. No need to get rid of his normal fangs. We'll see you in two weeks."

So that's it. Nothing horrible happened. And you know what? I'm finally realizing that the most horrible thing that happens in terms of these appointments is what happens in my head ... as I construct my own horrible scenario based on irrational thinking.

We all have things we horribilize. The dentist. The tax man. The doctor's visit. But you know what? The worst case scenario is never as horrible as we imagine them to be. I mean, even if the checkup resulted in someone needing a root canal ... it would be "When can you come in to get your root canal?"

It's when we keep putting things off with these not-so-fun parts of life that they can fester and become a bigger deal than they ever need to be.

Don't forget to floss ... fangs and all. ;)


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Its so refreshing to hear about someone else with dental fears.....you are so right. It's never as horrible as we make it to be in our heads, but yet.....I keep putting if off! Have a Sunny weekend, Jenny!

Horrible. Fester. Worry. Anticipate. Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. I have the same Same SAME thoughts in my head about the dentist. I haven't been in YEARS. I'm gonna go re-read this post. again and again. And maybe the nerve to call my dentist.........

Horribilizing, guilt, reality about finances, oh, yikes. I am so glad you wrote this, Jenny. You are my poster woman for having all your ducks in a row...I feel that I have wise, intelligent, competent company in this particular abyss and I don't feel quite so insufficient. Thank you. xo

Oh Jenny! This is what I used to think! I was deathly afraid of the dentist. Mom couldn't stand it and had no dental insurance so she didn't enforce my going. Well, 2 years ago I went but not to a dentist. He was an oral surgeon. I found out I had one of the worst forms of gum disease and they had to come out! My teeth were crooked, yellowed, and now my whole mouth was unhealthy. So they put me to sleep and cut out ALL 30 of mine!! Now it wasn't as dastardly as it sounds. I was uncomfortable but not really in any pain. I went back to work after the bruising went away-I looked like I lost a fight :-). I worked at our local groc store - with not a tooth in my head. Now I can say I survived! I have the most perfect, whitest white, healthy mouthful of teeth! I know they aren't my own which really can be frustrating at times, but it's ok. The moral of the story? Don't be so afraid to go that you just don't because it cost me ALL of mine. So glad you have overcome your fears!
Have a wonderful Saturday and a great weekend!
Lisa H.

In my last comment I posted I forgot to tell you I was only 36 when I had that surgery. He said I was one of the youngest ones he'd seen in awhile for that procedure but he said really they had gone too far and really I had no choice. glad to be able to tell my little story.

Jenny I am a RDA and let me tell you I DO NOT like going to the dentist. I do the same thing lol! Almost every person that sits in our chair is afraid or nervous. You are not alone. I must tell you this...There are those out there who WILL judge you. Thats what some people do. Most of us do not. For every case out there, there is another far worse. Things happen. Life happens. We all know that. I always say if it wasnt for cavities the improper brushing then those dentists (and me) wouldnt have a job lol!

Oh and my teacher (for dental assisting) use to tell us "Only floss the ones you want to keep." ;)

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