Sorry dentists, and we thank you for fixing our chompers, but it is a very unpleasant experience. One man was traumatized by his dental rendezvous as a child. He tried to explain that he would need to be fully sedated for his appointment. Well, he wasn't. The ensuing chaos he foggily remembers makes him think he may owe his dentist a nice edible arragement or at least a heartfelt apology to both his dentist and his very kind staff.
First I'll start by explaining that as a foster child I had some extremely traumatic experience with a particular dentist. He was very mean and he always hurt me and I didn't really have anyone to turn to because my foster parents didn't believe me.
As a result I have extreme anxiety about going to the dentist and I generally prefer to get put out for anything more major than a filling rather than sit there for hours having an anxiety attack.
This isn't my first foray into wildly reacting to sedatives, but it is my most embarrassing one. There were no outbursts the last time I was sedated at the dentist, although I did keep waking up and trying to stand. I was told I accepted it readily when they stopped me and didn't make a fuss, just laid back down.
Also, previously, after a knee surgery I found my phone on my ride home and I texted a few of my more shiftless coworkers and told them exactly what I thought of their efforts. Luckily we're all friends and they just thought it was hilarious and made fun of me about it for a couple months.
In reality, when I'm not full of sedatives I'm not the same a**hole and I'm more likely to offer help than complain or judge, even if I do talk crap while I do it. Unfortunately, today's experience might take a little bit more walking back on my part.
This time turned out a little different. Maybe a lot different. This time I really messed up.
Before the procedure I tried to remind them that it takes a surprising amount of sedative to keep me unconscious but they decided to be safe and just go with the minimum to start with.
This meant that I wasn't fully out, but I was chill enough to just zone out to music and mostly not mind what was happening. At least, until the point that I decided I did mind. In fact I minded very much. An embarrassing amount, actually.
After a little while of dozing in and out of twilight sleep the dentist started doing some weird thing where he would jerk on my cheek very hard as he pierced my gum and jaw with what felt like a needle. Later they explained this as a distraction from the pain of was using a syringe to inject a local anesthetic.
But at this moment it didn't matter what he was doing, I'd had enough. I suddenly jerked my head a little bit when he jerked my cheek for the 4th or fifth time and the needle went into the tip of my tongue, instantly numbing one side of my tongue. Really it was my fault, but I was in no condition to accept that. I don't really know what I thought in that moment, but I know that I was not thrilled.
I pushed my very kind dentist and at least one other person away from me, stood up, and started yelling and swearing at everyone, swaying around drunkenly, screaming God knows what. I was dizzy as hell, I'm not sure if I understood what was happening at all.
I edged my way around the room until my back was against a wall so no one could sneak up on me. By now there was an uproar and probably five or six staff were there in front of me with wide eyes and hands held out in front of them, begging me to chill out.
I have no idea what I was saying but I ranted the entire time. A good few minutes at least. I know I said I was p*ssed, that there's no reason to jerk on my cheek if I'm sleeping because if I'm sleeping you don't have to disguise the pain, and anyways I'm 40 years old, you're not fooling me. Just give me the shot and save your cheek pulling games for children.
At one point the very sweet tech ask me if I'd had caffeine or Adderall or any sort of stimulants in the last 24 hours that would keep me awake (I hadn't). This also offended me for some reason, so I started ranting about that too. Loudly.
On and on I went, backed up against the wall with my fists up in front of me, swaying like I was on a boat. There was a wedge in my mouth holding my teeth apart that at some point I took out and threw away from myself. I was still attached to the blood pressure machine and I was jerking it around, someone had to hold on to it to keep it from tipping over. All in all it was ugly. Very ugly.
Eventually the reality of the situation started to dawn on me. I realized that was surrounded by dental staff, who were 75% kindly older women, all of them watching with horrified expressions as I realed drunkenly, bouncing my 250 lb frame around and screaming blearily from behind clenched fists.
As it dawned on me I calmed down, and because I actually like them all very much and they're always kind to me. I was able to pull it together and sit back down.
They gave me more sedative, eventually I passed back out, and by the time I woke up it was time to go home. I didn't really remember a single thing about the appointment in that moment. I was just ready to go home and go to bed for a few hours.
Fast forward to the evening and I'm now finally sober enough to process thoughts. I just got a voicemail from the dentist about 12 hours later, very cautiously inquiring into my well-being, which brought that flood of half-memories back to mind. I'm very embarrassed.
This is my first dentist that I have had as an adult, my first dentist that I returned to, and I was really hoping for it to be my last dentist as well. Hopefully they take me back. I plan to go down there tomorrow with some flowers and a very heartfelt apology. And hopefully they make a note in my chart to throw in a little extra sedative next time they have to put me out.
Probably not the first time they've experienced it, the flowers will be nice and solidify that the confusion in a sedated state was to blame.
Talk to the dentist and his staff about ways to try and prevent a sudden reaction like this from happening, and make a plan for what can be done if it does. When someone’s brain goes into panic mode, it can take awhile for their brain to start recognizing that they’re actually safe, especially if they’re sedated.
But having a plan in place can help them help you so your brain chills out. Trauma responses are kind of like panic attacks. They can be tough to bring under control but it can be done with practice and a plan.
My mum had a similar experience and clocked the dentist on the jaw. Firstly, it was sad because she has trauma as well, and the dentist didn't come to work to be assaulted. Secondly, lol, my lovely and kind mum cracked someone while half asleep.
LMAO I am so sorry to laugh but coming from someone who has screamed at the top of their lungs as a grown adult, ripped the dental bib off, flew over the chair and run out the door like my life depended on it, I so relate to how you feel. The visual of you with the wedge still in your mouth ranting about their childish games has me dying.
Show your dentist this post. Then them you’re mortified and so sorry. I promise you it’s in your chart to give you enough sedative to knock out a horse next time so it’s fine 🤣
You didn’t mess up. I know you feel that way, but what you had was a trauma response. You might have PTSD from the sadistic dentist when you were a kid, so how you acted while drugged up is completely not surprising. Your brain went into survival mode where you were going to fight your way free from the situation if you had to. That’s out of your control sometimes.
You’re not the only one who has had reactions like that in dentist offices, but it can help them and you if they are aware. They might be better able to help you calm down if it happens again because they’ll understand what may have triggered it.
I hate you had to do through the ordeal you did as a kid, and that you still have to deal with it now. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s really not your fault. But talking to the dentist and maybe talking to a therapist will help.
I was an oral surgeon. You’re not the first one.