A lot of patients are terrified to go to the dentist! Yes, a lot of them…not only you! Most of them think that as a dentist I have perfect teeth and that I have never had to experience fillings or extractions. I am aware of this as I have had it recounted to me so many times: “you do not know what I feel, you have perfect teeth, I wish I had teeth like yours, you most likely never had an extraction/filling or root canal treatment.”
Maybe some dentists are like that, but definitely not me: my relationship with a dentist began when I was 6. I noticed that I have an extra tooth growing on the top, behind my front teeth. I went to my mum. She was shocked and next thing I remember I am in the dental chair. It was a big public surgery with multiple chairs in one room. My first dentist asked my mum to stay outside while she was looking at my teeth. I didn’t expect to be alone and I felt unsure at first. The dentist put me in the chair and that is when it all started: she was busy chatting with her colleague, not listening to me, why would she. I was only 6 and she was an adult, who knows everything. She never gave me an anaesthetic and took out 2 front teeth while continuing to chat to her friend. I was shocked. She sent me back to my mum. As a child I thought that she took out the wrong tooth. She never explained anything to me and did it without numbing the extraction area. I came out to my mum upset, bleeding and with a strong feeling that I will never return.
I had funny baby teeth. Unlike other kids, they didn’t want to come out naturally. Since that time, when I was 6, I had to come back for extractions of nearly every baby tooth. I lost all my trust in the dentist at the first visit and since then every subsequent one was a disaster. By the time the dentist was taking out my baby canines (aka fangs!) he had to chase me around the surgery.
Even after having my last baby tooth taken out, it wasn’t the end. It appeared that my permanent teeth were funny as well. They were too big for my mouth and I had no room for all of them. Guess what had to happen. I was back or 4 permanent teeth extractions. I couldn’t believe it!
Needless to say that all my dental visits were stressful: sleepless nights, sweating palms, dry mouth; even if I needed only a small filling or simple scale and polish.
I couldn’t take it anymore. And at the age of 17 I decided to become a dentist. I know, that most people would expect the opposite. However, I needed to face my fear and learn from it. I went to dental college. And during first year one of the professors said: “every dentist should go through the dental pain to understand what patient feels”. His words were like magic. Everything fell into place and I understood from that moment on I had chosen the right profession.
I know what my patient feels. I know how to help them!
Dr. Svetlana Kilgannon
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