The Twenty third Psalm for dental patients
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]re you one out of the 23 people who has a phobia about going to the dentist? Does the image of sitting in a dentist’s chair give you anxiety attacks? The number of people who dread going to the dentist is so high that there even is a name for this kind of phobia. It is known as Dentophobia. It is related to Iatrophobia , which means fear of doctors. The number of dentophobia sufferers is higher than we think, because there are some who suffer in silence, ashamed to own their fear. Well, take heart, dear sufferer, I have found my personal cure for dentophobia and it works.When my dentist decided to bring my yearly dental appointment closer by a week, I agreed, thinking it’ll be good to get that one behind me as fast as possible. At the same time, I could not stop this fatalistic thought from temporarily flitting through my mind; time to put my house in order. I have always associated dental visits with shadow-of-the-valley-of-death experiences. Memory is a treacherous thing. Recalled painful tooth extractions are entirely responsible for my dentophobia. As these memories flooded in, I bowed my head in prayer. I fervently prayed for the Rapture to take place before my dental appointment.
Dental appointments make me think of heaven more than I normally do. Because heaven, for me, is that perfect place where cavities, and root canal treatments are unheard of. As a matter of fact, some years ago, I even wrote a dental poem set in heaven, which goes,
In heaven, in heaven
Oh the joy, oh the bliss
We won’t have to go
To the dentist anymore!
The Rapture having failed to come before my appointment, I sadly made my way to the dentist on a cloudy morning that threatened early rain. There was just one old woman at the dentist’s. ‘Maybe all the others died.’ I squashed that thought as soon as it arose. My dentist greeted me gleefully, and went through the rituals: X rays, examination of upper teeth ending with the same procedure for my lower teeth.
All the time that I had been reclining in my dentist’s chair, my mind had become a veritable battlefield.
“Remember what happened to your mother?” asked a voice. (I had begun to hear voices from the moment I entered the dentist’s chamber).
“What?” I asked defiantly.
“Her dentist drilled a hole right through her cheek and they couldn’t stop the bleeding for a long time,” answered the voice with an evil little cackle.
“Shut up!” I shouted at it from inside my head, “That was 1964. This is 2014. They’re not so careless anymore.”
“Oh yeah? What about that time when you had to stop this same dentist and ask for painkillers?”
It went on. I felt more vulnerable than a foot soldier. That’s when I decided to go on the offensive. I ignored the voices and began to recite very slowly and deliberately,
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
He restoreth my teeth. (I really liked that one. I repeated it twice for effect.)
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.
Sometimes I changed the above two lines to, Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of teeth, I will fear no dentist, for thou art with me.
It worked wonderfully. I felt my fears recede, and the voices grew dimmer and dimmer until all I could hear were teeny tiny voices singing faint alleluias. When the dust cleared, I slowly stood to my feet, my imaginary gun slung across my shoulder. My dentist handed me a purple heart, er, I mean a clean plate of dental health for the next 365 days.
I understand some things a lot better now than I used to. For instance, I perfectly empathise with those who predict the end of the world every once in five years. They probably do careful calculations to make sure the end comes before their next dental appointment is due. I also understand that dentophobia is paralysingly real. But as with any other foe, it can be killed, or overruled. I don’t know about you but as for me, the Twenty third Psalm is now my most effective close combat weapon against Dentophobia.
Oh yeah, and in addition, brushing and flossing my teeth regularly, of course.