VeDA Ambassador, Tamar Schwartz writes about her dental visit.
My Dental Appointment
So I had to go to the dentist today...I hate going to the dentist. I totally avoided it in the beginning when I was sick, but I figured I didn't want to add dental problems to my health picture. I do try to take really good care of my teeth, but I think a professional dental cleaning is important. I know going to the dentist is unpleasant for a lot of people, but for me and I think others with vestibular disorders, it's especially challenging.
I had called my dentist before I started as a patient to see if he'd had any experience with people with trouble like me. I think I asked about vertigo or dizziness or something. I did not use the word vestibular, because most people don't really get that. When I was told they had, I agreed to give it a try. The woman booked some extra time, and noted that I would want the music turned off. I find that less stimulation beyond the actual exam is better.
When I go, the first thing that always happens is a discussion about how I'll be lying down. I should add that unfortunately I can't see the hygienest I really like because her schedule - she's part time - doesn't work for me. I always have to schedule in the a.m. I only do doctor appointments in the afternoon if I can't avoid it. Anyway, I don't like lying flat, and especially when I'm having my dental check up, I really don't like it. This last visit, I started out a bit more down than I wanted to be, and then insisted on being raised higher, at more of an angle. I also try to sit up when the chair is being moved...I don't like unexpected movement. If I can see what's happening, know where I'm going, it's easier to tolerate.
She doesn't like having to move around, and does ask me to move my head a bit, but I don't move it a lot. I really feel it's important to do what works for me, and I figure challenging her a bit in terms of how she does things isn't really a bad thing. I try to just breathe and stay relaxed when she's using the various tools to clean my teeth. The hardest part is the toothbrush. I hate the vibration - it makes my whole head feel like it's vibrating, and can easily make me dizzy. I remind her not to use it at full force. My teeth do get reasonably clean, and I figure good enough is good enough. I'm not aiming for perfection. She periodically squirts water in my mouth and then gives me the suction thing to suck on the get the water out. This also gives me a chance to breathe, get a break. I don't like any of that stuff to stay in my mouth. After she finishes the brushing she does a bit more with the tools, which I've gotten used to, and know it's the very last step. The flossing doesn't bother me.
Then I get a minute to sit up and relax before the dentist comes in. He's always very nice, friendly. I never get x-rays. I have no desire to deal with that on top of the stress of the cleaning. Eventually I'll make a separate appointment to get them done. But I don't worry about that. When I'm finished I sit in the waiting room for a few minutes - which thankfully is quiet - and take some more deep breathes and let my head get reorganized. My husband, who drove me to and from the dentist, always brings something to read, and knows when he sees me sit down that I need a few minutes before we leave. And I say to myself "well, you did it."