I have a deep dark secret. I am, what is medically termed as, a gagger. Which means the roof of the back of my mouth works overtime and results in a terrible gagging reflex everytime anything other than food touches it. These things include toothbrush, dentist's tools, doctor's flat ice-cream stick type thing used to check the throat, throat swabs and all other manner of things.
Now this obviously results in a phobia of dentists. I remember when I was about seven (I think) I needed some teeth extracted and so my father marched me off to the dentist. The dentist proceeded to stick all sorts of things into my mouth and I gagged uncontrollably and the final straw for me was the anaesthetic injection - I bolted. Out the door of the dentistry, down the two flights of stairs and all the way to the car. The dentist's cries of 'you are a bad girl' were useless. I didn't care - as far as I was concerned I would rather my teeth rotted in my mouth than have that monstrous injection put in there!
This phobia only got worse and as luck would have it I have been cursed with a set of rather oblique teeth that needed several extractions and braces. Each visit was as unpleasant as the previous and after the braces came off I vowed never to have to go to the dentist again!
My diet is decent, I don't eat much chocolate, don't drink fizzy drinks often and also brush twice a day. I also floss when needed. So I had convinced myself that all was under control. Until last month. I woke up to a slight (very slight) pain in the left gums and some tenderness so I went to the dentist here in Canberra. She checked my teeth out, pronounced that all was well but I would need an x-ray. Now, I had no idea that a dental x-ray is taken by shoving a film inside your mouth, against your teeth and the dentist had no idea that I'm a miserable and chronic gagger. So she proceeded to shove this contraption in my mouth and I proceeded to gag it right out. She tried again and I persisted. So finally she gave up and packed me off to get a dental x-ray from the diagnostic medlab (not before charging me a whopping $110!!).
Needless to say the x-ray never happened, the pain however persisted and kept nagging at me whenever it got the chance. So in NZ this time I literally gritted my teeth and went to see another dentist. My teeth turned out to be fine but I was told that I needed a clean and I dragged myself across the corridor to the dental hygienist. She took one look inside and said it was the oddest thing she had seen in a long time - the left side of my mouth was in pristine condition but the right side was rapidly going down-hill. Bizarre she said.
Now this lady was the sort who needed not only to clean things but also to figure out why they were dirty in the first place so through some rapid questionings she realised that since I was right handed and since my right shoulder had been stuffed for the last two year I have not been able to bend my toothbrush at the right angle to brush hard enough (or something) she also figured out that I gag so much while brushing that flossing every tooth is totally out of the question!
Anyway, it was a reasonably pleasant visit and everything is all cleaned up and back to better than normal. I picked up an electric toothbrush at duty free and also a special head that.... wait for it... flosses the teeth for you! Oh joy!
The gagging still remains but one just has to power through it all I guess so till next time folks here are some words of wisdom from the fantastic dental hygienist - 'Floss only the teeth you want to keep'!