I’m 1000% Terrified of the Dentist

eric shay howard selfie

First, I have a bit of good news. I’m finished with all of the work in the MBA program and am waiting for my degree to be conferred. That means “official”, or whatever. So, I’m hoping that any day now I will get an email with instructions on how to obtain my graduate degree diploma. Why an MBA, you ask? Well, I don’t know now any more than I did when I started the program. Maybe adjunct teaching? I mean, like, MAYBE. there’s a lot of competition out there.

Now, some life updates. The same week I had to finish my capstone project, I started having an awful toothache. I pushed through the pain because, you know, I HAD to finish grad school. Then, when my final submissions were approved, I said to heck with this and called the dentist. I haven’t EVER called a dentist, EVER. I know, my mouth is gross.

Why I’m Afraid of the Dentist

I had a bad experience at the dentist when I was a child. It was, let’s just say, an unfortunate drilling incident. Ever since then, nope. Dentist? Can’t do it. Wouldn’t do it. My teeth are kind of bad. I mean, they look okay, but they’re bad. I’ve had toothaches before, but they usually go away after a day or two. this one was a full week and getting worse. So, I gathered up all of my risk-taking experience – a guy who started a literary magazine once without having any real credentials – a guy who decided to start college at 25, a guy who has been submitting fiction for seven years without any acceptances but still submits a bio with it, a guy who started a trash podcast when I bought a microphone because I figured what’s the worst that could happen? – and went to the dentist.

The tooth? He pulled it. It was in the very back of my left side. I was mostly afraid of the numbing needles. The prick in the gums around the teeth wasn’t bad, but the roof of the mouth wasn’t great. Also, I’ve never appreciated the language often used in stories that relays the experience of “bone cracking”, but now I expect that language will achieve optimal emotion from me next time I come across it in a piece of writing. While I was numbed, the dentist put together a dental plan. I have to go back next week, and also in February.

My Dental Plan

Yeah, so, he’s going to pull pretty much all 3 of the rest of my very back teeth – 1 on each corner – then all my wisdom teeth, then I think some whatever-elses. I think he said the words “root canal” a lot. Then boom, healthy mouth I guess. I think he also has to do a deep cleaning. Like, a deep DEEP cleaning. Like, “we’re gonna numb your whole mouth and I’m gonna get in there and scrape because you have a lot of build up and don’t wear your favorite shirt”, kind of stuff. Then I think I’ll have to look and see what I have left of my maximum from my dental insurance and figure out a few implants. Supposedly just a few will be needed. He seems to think he can fix almost all of my visible teeth. I mean hey, good luck, dude.

So, I’ll try not to implode into myself over the next month. Was this an overshare? Probably. I mean this could be one of those “if you’re afraid of the dentist like I am, it’ll be okay, here’s what I learned” kind of blog posts, but nope. Still absolutely terrified and I’m probably going to die.

By Eric Shay Howard

Eric Shay Howard lives in Indianapolis. He's a teacher, a literary editor, and writer. He's a graduate student in the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA in Creative Writing program at Eastern Kentucky University. He also has MBA and BA degrees.

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