I’m at my wits end with my wife. She has a cavity. Her first one. You’d think she’d be grateful she made it this many years (she’s 49) without one. Instead, she’s been skulking around the house for days moaning about how she can’t go through with it. It’s not like she has a choice. But, I’m afraid she really is going to wig out when she gets there or just cancel her appointment. I want this over with. is there anything a dentist can give a coward so I can make sure she goes through with this?
Dan B. – Camden, Arkansas
I want to tell you a story.
A woman and her husband interrupted their vacation to go to the dentist. “I want a tooth pulled, and I don’t want Novacaine because I’m in a big hurry,” the woman said. “Just extract the tooth as quickly as possible, and we’ll be on our way.” The dentist was quite impressed. “You’re certainly a courageous woman,” he said. “Which tooth is it?” The woman turned to her husband and said, “Show him your tooth, dear.”
It’s easy to be brave when something isn’t happening to you. Your wife isn’t being irrational. Look at it from her perspective. She’s never had a cavity, so she doesn’t know what to expect. The unknown can be very frightening. When you don’t have personal experience or information about something, your mind tries to fill in the blanks. For instance, you might imagine the things you see on television about dental work are true. Most of pop-culture demonize dentists. If she’s picturing somethings she’s heard about or seen on television, it could be a horror film scene in her mind.
Anxiety can make treatment go south quickly. The key will be getting her relaxed. There are dentists who specialize in helping frightened patients. These dentists usually use some form of sedation dentistry. If your dentist isn’t one of them, I’d find one who is. You don’t want this one experience to keep her from the dentist in future years. It can put the whole of her health at risk.
The most common form of sedation is nitrous, but her anxiety is too high for that to be effective. She’s going to need oral conscious sedation. Because of that, she’ll need someone to take her to and from her appointment, as well as stay with her throughout the day. She’ll be unsteady on her feet and in danger of hurting herself from a fall.
I realize this seems silly to you, but it is very real to her. Try to imagine something that would terrify you which other people think is easy.
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