“The problem is, people are scared of us. They fear pain. And of course, they think we’re expensive.”
I tried to convey my agreement and I nodded carefully, unable to speak, my mouth wide open.
I didn’t want to hurt his feelings but he was right—who enjoys going to the dentist?
I don’t. You could even say it’s one of my phobias. I’m not a hypochondriac and life’s minor aches and pains don’t bother me. I don’t mind flesh wounds, a bit of blood, a cold, bruises. I don’t even flinch when blood is drawn with a needle or when I vaccines are administered. Hell, I gave birth without epidural! But I can’t stand anything that has to do with teeth. I almost fainted when I first saw a hockey player smile and my worst nightmares involve losing teeth.
There are a handful of chores I have to—or would rather—accomplish in France. For instance, last year, I had to renew my passport, a routine task that turned into a complicated adventure through the French red-tape maze. I also get my hair cut in France—or anywhere but in Canada—because after years of suffering through bad haircuts, I finally gave up on explaining Ottawa stylists that I didn’t want to look like a bitchy office lady. Besides, haircuts are ridiculously expensive in Ottawa and you’re supposed to tip even though you’re holding back tears… I mean, I got better results having my hair cut in Brazil, even though I only speak portuhnol!
I would also rather deal with a French dentist than a Canadian one. North Americans are passionate about perfect smiles and there are hundreds of dentist practices to choose from. Problem is, they all advertise cosmetic procedures and expensive treatments and at the end, I can’t help wondering what really is necessary from a medical perspective. Considering I’m completely irrational when it comes to teeth and dentistry, I’m afraid I’ll get bullied into accepting upsells.
I trust my French dentist so I usually get a checkup when I go to France. However, she started to take five or six weeks off over the summer and she was away when we were in France last year so I avoided the chore.
This year, I really had to go.
I asked around for recommendations but no one could help. She is the family dentist for my parents and my brother. As for my sister, she hasn’t been in… ahem, a decade or so.
There. I couldn’t make an appointment. Surely, every single dentist in Nantes was on holiday, after all, it’s August. Here was my excuse!
Or rather, it would have been a great excuse if I were 15 years old. I’m an adult now, I rationalized. No one is going to force me to go to the dentist. But I knew I should go. It would be stupid to skip the chore and be anxious about it for another year.
So I looked up dentists online and found one close to my parents’ place. An appointment was made for August 7.
In the morning, I almost asked my mom to come with me. “Oh for fuck’s sake,” I admonished myself. “Just go!”
And so, at 11:30 a.m., after admitting a mild dentist phobia, I was sitting on the chair, my hands on my lap. Fifteen minutes later, I was told everything was fine and I had my teeth cleaned, an unpleasant process with rewarding results.
I left the dentist office smiling and relieved. I’m glad I tackled this chore.
We spent the rest of this nice, sunny day walking on one side of the Loire River before taking the boat to explore the other side and back.
Phew. Duty done.