Mindfulness is not something you can use at the dentist!
Mindfulness techniques are something you can’t really use at the dentist. Mindfulness is all about being in the moment, and when I’m at the dentist, I don’t want to focus on being in the moment at all. I’d like to be somewhere else. A long way away!
I’ve always looked after my teeth.
At least a two minute clean twice a day and regular check ups all my life. Sadly as you age, things start to fall apart, not matter how well you look after yourself. Gums start to recede, and those teeth just get old! I’m so grateful to my dentist who I hope will never move. It takes a lot to find someone like him, although these days, dentists are a new breed!
If you were at primary school in the 70s, you would know all about the dentist lorry that would turn up and ‘treat’ the children who weren’t registered with a dentist. Thankfully that wasn’t me, but there was still the fear that one day they would call your name, and you would have to go to to be put to sleep while they removed most of your teeth. A vision that was totally unfounded, but it’s funny how children see things!
Times change. For the better!
I used to go to the family dentist, where there was a fish tank in the waiting room, grumpy receptionists, and a dentist that used to say, ‘Oh, you’ve got a little wobbly tooth……’ and BAM, he would pull it out!
I was keeping that you stupid man…. children like their teeth to wobble and fall out naturally, ready for the tooth fairy, we don’t need you helping the process! Idiot!
He was also a dentist who use to fill with no anaesthetic. Nice.
I became so afraid of the dentist that I didn’t go for check ups in my late teens, until I was at college and was still entitled to free care, as I was a student. Dentists had changed. I went along, and my faith was restored. Restored until I moved back home and had to find someone else. Someone who decided that filling teeth was a good thing to do….. I won’t write about it here, but needless to say, it wasn’t pleasant!
A few years later, I found someone else who was shocked at the unnecessary work I had done. Too late. It was just too late. Teeth don’t grow back. It took me a long time to be able to trust what a dentist would tell me. I haven’t needed a filling for many years. What I have needed are a couple of the really old ones re-done, as they have started to cause issues. It must be all those seeds in my granola!
You have to trust them.
They are the professionals and you can’t see what they are doing. As time moves along, so do procedures and new materials – gone are the mercury fillings! – We have kind, understanding, gentle dentists everywhere. I’m sure that if the dentists coming through training now, had been around in the 60s and 70s, they would have much more sympathy with middle aged patients who find their visits to the dentist quite an event. And not in a good way!
So today I returned to have an granola, irritating tooth refilled. It was planned in. I was prepared.
My dentist is amazing. I trust him, but it’s still pretty shit!
I had to employ all the relaxation tricks .
There’s a nice painting on the ceiling to focus on. Radio 2 with Pop Master in the background, but you couldn’t hear it over the noise.
I did nice yoga counted breath work. That was ok until half way through when I realised I’d almost stopped breathing. This IS mindfulness, being focused on the breath, but it’s also about being present. I don’t want to be present, thank you very much!
I tried finger counting. That worked for a while.
I pondered how many animals would live in the ceiling picture if it was a real place? I even visualised my shopping list, and my route round the town. Distraction was the key.
I couldn’t go to my happy place. How can you focus on your happy place while someone is trying to gain access to your teeth and trying not to cut your tongue.
It doesn’t hurt. It’s just the amount of stuff going on. The further back the tooth, the harder it is to gain access. The more things going on and the more you think you could actually die if something slipped or went wrong. Oops…. need to refocus and be positive.
Then it was done.
It was quite a big job, and if it gives me any more trouble, it will be a crown. How old does that make me feel? I scuttled out, thanking them, and then nipped into the loo. It was then I felt really shaky and upset. What was that all about? It was over for heavens sake. It didn’t hurt as such, but it was all pokey and pushy, and ….. pretty horrible. I cried. A little.
I zoomed past reception, muttering a goodbye and headed into town. I got 50 yards down the road and had to sit down. It was then that mindfulness really came into play. Counted breath work to stop the inside shaking. Trying to feel gratitude, and switching my thoughts, but realising that we are all human, and we are supposed to be experiencing things. I was experiencing a major wobble, and I needed to breathe.
One coffee and a very large piece of cake later, I have returned to some normality. This tooth had better behave itself as I’m not having a crown anytime soon. I need to recover from this first.
I would like to point out, my dentist is superb. I trust him, and he doesn’t do any work unless it is absolutely necessary. I’m grateful that we have amazing dental care these days, and things have come a long way. But I still cried.
Now it has passed. All good.