There are only 2 humans on this earth who truly know the extent of my dental phobia. Imagine that, only two solitary humans that you could ever openly talk to about your biggest fear.
I always speak openly about my dental phobia. Have done for a while. I even wrote “CSE….Do you really want to know?” to try and get it out there for people to try and understand. But the fact is, bad teeth are frowned on in society in a more severe way than other things. Having bad teeth, no teeth, missing teeth is something that is still openly mocked and joked about. It’s something that people look down their nose at. Bad teeth can stop people getting jobs, having relationships, having good mental health.
I have sat and listened to so many jokes and cusses about teeth. And some of its true. There are some skanky people out there who can’t be bothered to pick up a toothbrush and don’t care how their teeth look. That’s true. But I would be so bold as to say that most people who have bad or missing teeth don’t not care….They just feel like they can’t do anything about it, for whatever the reason that may be.
An example of this could be…. oh, I don’t know…. let’s say we have a young girl who, from a young age, was abused in one way or another. This abuse led to all kind of anxieties, some she was unable to verbalise or explain both due to her age and the sheer impact of what she had seen, heard, smelt, experienced. So right from the start, the dentist was traumatising. Let’s also imagine NHS dentist in say …the late 80’s… just as an example. I don’t know what people’s experiences were of the dentist in the 80s, but I hear it was pretty rough. I hear that if you needed to be sedated as a child (Maybe even an adult) they would place a mask over your face, and you would be held until you…well…passed out. Not that the people involved were trying to cause you harm. Your own mum may have been one of the people holding you down, just trying something, anything, so that her child could get the dental work she needed. Either way, that just adds onto the growing fear and trauma. Being held down….forced….
Then, hypothetically, some young people may grow up in a home when they are very young where things like oral hygiene were not consistent. Where hygiene was not consistent. Were no one regularly checked if you brushed your teeth. There was no bedtime routine. Maybe there was sometimes, but maybe the mum had mental health issues that made her emotional unavailable and things like brushing teeth were not high on the priority.
But surly…I can hear peoples brains ticking over…. surly once you get to a certain age you would want to look after your own hygiene. Bath regular, oral hygiene and such. And this is the bit that always gets me when I hear people say things like that …How can you expect someone to know something they have not been taught? Like…. I don’t know…What age did you learn to wash your own hair? Who showed you? Did you have all the products available in the home you needed? Did you have access to running hot water and a shower head? Who told you how often you should wash your hair, should you use conditioner? Who told you that you can’t wash your air with washing up liquid? (Well you can, but don’t ever try and brush that hair…and don’t cry when some girl has to shave it at the back to make it even half decent)
When you think about it like that, when talking about hair washing, I think it’s a kind of “ohhhhh” moment. You had to be guided by someone about this stuff. You didn’t just know.
Then, as the young person gets older, they don’t have anyone booking a dentist appointment for them because at the mention of the dentist there is a kick-off. Violence and threats of what will happen if they are made to go. No one takes time to understand this is a developing phobia but instead just…. well…. don’t bother to tell her to go.
Do you know something…here’s one for you…? People that shot drugs…not take them at all, only sell them, can still cause significant damage to their teeth because of the drugs. Let me explain. So, we already have “Poor” oral hygiene going on and no dentist. Then, to add to it, imagine holding, in your mouth, all around your back teethe, little wraps of cocaine or heroine wrapped in cling film. And you are placing these wraps along your gum-line at the back of your mouth so that when punter’s comes along you can just spit out a rock and give it to them or swallow the rocks if the police move on you. Hours and hours, days, weeks, months…of having this kind of stuff just sitting in your mouth, how long do you think until infection and corrosion of the teeth takes place? In some cases, never. However, in some cases, This along with all of the above, a poor diet and drinking lots of coke to keep you awake can cause a lot of damage over a short period of time (Imagine trying to explain that one to your dentist as an adult)
And suddenly you find yourself a young adult with poor teeth, and your to scared to go to the dentist.
You now understand oral hygiene and practice that well. But you can’t/won’t access a dentist so…of course…it gets worse. Until you find yourself sobbing in dentist chair after dentist chair trying to find the help you need. Most dentist can’t even get a mirror in your mouth. The “good” dentist, where they have all the latest technology and would make it maybe just a little easier to have the treatment…you can’t afford that. You save up the money a few times but things keep cropping up like the kids need things or you have bills to pay or your mum dies and you take all the money you saved for the private dentistry and uses it to make sure she has hundreds of carnations over her coffin because that’s the least you can do for her. Or something like that.
So, you save again…. the teeth, they don’t wait for no man, so whilst the saving is happening…again…the teeth are rotting…. But now the impact is massive. You are embarrassed and want to do so many things but can’t because you know your teeth are getting worse. So you save…..and then things happen, a daughter is born, boys need things, you are left to pay every bill in your yard on your own and raise 3 children…who can save the hundreds needed for the dentist in that kind of environment….
This is all hypothetical of course……
The title of this blog is Child abuse: 0 – Dentist: 1. I was going to write CSE: 0. Or, Negelct:0. But the truth is, many children that have suffered abuse have suffered more than one kind and will have had an impact in one way or another. So, just for today…I am saying child abuse for all the evil things that happen to children. All the neglect that has taken place.
Anyway, don’t know what happened there. Went off on one didn’t I. So, reader, what have you done today? Me…oh….
I got up at 7. Wait…that’s a lie. I decided last night that I was not going to go to sleep. That I would stay up all night so that in the morning I would be so exhausted I wouldn’t have the energy to run away or be anxious. But I fell asleep and wok about every 30 mins through the night. Feeling proper sick. Then at 7 this morning (on a Saturday you know) I paced the house for 20 mins and had an internal dialogue with myself about what I want from life over the next 10 years. Then I cried on my bed for about 10 minutes. Then I got dressed. Got back in bed. Told myself off and went and got on my bike (I don’t drive, so, sometimes I ride a bike…a pedal bike…a bit like call the midwife but with grime playing).
I road about 20 minutes from my house. I stopped once, turned my bike round, sat there, turned it back the other way, and carried on riding. The whole time a conversation going on in my head. Between “Me” and …I guess… my inner child. I was having a conversation with Blondy. There. I said it. Never said that aloud before. So Blondy was telling me to run. Telling me to fuck this off and go home. And I was telling her no. We will be ok.
I sat in the waiting room. Big posh one. Felt proper out of my depth. I had a plan you see…I would listen to a pod cast. But I couldn’t get any reception. And then my name was called.
I was going to go into detail but, there is no need. At 8 am this morning I sat in a dentist chair, had 2 big mother injections (Ok…Blondy wanted me to ask for numbing gel first…so I did…but that was for her not me…) and I had root canal on two teeth. I was told at the start of the year that If I didn’t get these 2 teeth sorted, I would lose them, Two front teeth. How could I go to work? How could I face my friends? (Most of my friends have very good teeth…. just saying)
So, all year I have been saving. Like I have any spare money!!! But in dribs and drabs I did. And I went and found a dentist that didn’t judge me. Who listened to why I don’t like dentists.
And for an hour this morning I lived my worst nightmare. All control was taken from me. There were 3 adults standing over me putting things in my mouth. They were saying stuff I didn’t understand (despite my nightly googling of “What would dentist say in code to each other if it was all going wrong”. I felt sick. I kept putting my hand up to stop..and they did. I had two massive anxiety attacks.
But I kept going.
The dentist…. or God as I will always now refer to him…spoke to me about what would happen next. He told me I was doing well. He even called my phone yesterday to make sure I was ok for this morning. He saw me for who I am. Well part of me. An adult who is recovering from some fucked up shit and is now…maybe years too late…just trying to be a normal person.
I got home at 9:30 and I had another cry. Just sat on the sofa. I told her that she done good. That its ok to be scared but …see…we did it. I also wished that I had found a dentist like that a long time ago.
I have to go back in 10 days for the last part of the treatment and already I am like…na…can’t do it. But I will. The root canal might not even work…but we will deal with that if it happens…Because that’s what adults do.
So, its only a small win…but every win count’s
Child abuse: 0 – dentist: 1
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