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June 13, 2011

Soviet Dentists and My Anxiety…

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/soviet_dentists_and_my_anxiety_20110613/

Photo

Old Soviet dental tools

Is it just me or do other people have a huge phobia of Dentists?  I don’t know why I have such a fear of them, but I do know that I’d rather have another baby than go to the Dentist.  Actually, now that I think about it, I would even prefer a colonoscopy to having someone put their hands and sharp tools into my mouth.  The night before my appointment I have to either consume large amounts of alcohol or take Valium, otherwise I lay awake all night starring at the ceiling.  You would think that having a Grandmother that used to be a Dentist would make one MORE comfortable with getting dental work, but in my case I believe that it made me LESS comfortable. 
Let me explain.  My Grandmother went to dental school right after the War, which might as well have been during dinosaur times.  The fact that she never worked on her children or grandchildren was definitely alarming to me, and raised a lot of questions in my head as to why she always referred us to other dentists…  She had no problem with fixing other people’s teeth, but when it came to us she would state: “I have a very heavy hand and don’t want to hurt you.”  To this day I have absolutely no clue what that means.
Or maybe my brain has ingrained the image of all those Soviet dentists I had to go to as a child.  The memory of getting my teeth pulled without Novocain, the pre-historic tools they used, the cavity work without anesthetic, etc…  I wonder if any of that has to do with my terrible fear of the dental chair? 
I do remember getting out of mandatory visits to the Dentist with my class.  For those of you not familiar with how Communism works, apparently the government has the right to decide when and how children are supposed to visit the Dentist, amongst other physicians.  Basically, during various times throughout the school year our teacher would take us on a “field trip” to the Dentist.  And every year, as soon as I was placed in the dental chair, I would announce that my Grandmother is a practicing Dentist therefore there was no need for my check up.  A couple times I did get away with it, but most times I ended up being dragged back there by my Mother the very next day.  Let’s just say that by forth grade I had developed a file that read DIFFICULT/DEFIANT
Not only did we have “fieldtrips” to the Dentist, but we also got visited by “nurses” in the beginning of the school year to give out vaccines right there at our desks!  Dead, honest truth.  They had those Sci-Fi looking guns that shot out a dose of vaccine, which sounded like an air gun going off.  It was the scariest thing in the world, and we all dreaded those days when the “nurses” made their rounds through the school.  We had other so-called fieldtrips also, to clinics and medical offices to name a few.  I wasn’t kidding when I wrote awhile back that when my husband got to go on potato chip factories on his fieldtrips, I went on Concentration Camp fieldtrips.  But that wasn’t until we were much older, more mature and able to comprehend the atrocities of the Holocaust, around the age of twelve or so.  More on that later.
Could all of that contribute to my anxiety and debilitating fear of dentists? 

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