An Inci-dental Realization


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I lay there at a recline, uncomfy 165 degrees,
As blinding bright lights shone overhead.
My mouth propped open with bitter plastic,
My stomach slowly filling with dread.

My orthodontist, a stout middle aged man,
Was droning on about my dental imperfections.
I focused on the massive mole upon his nose,
Blocking out the words crowding and tooth protrusions.

At age 11, I had no concept of beauty,
All gangly arms, pimples and tousled hair.
My overbite was just another in a huge list of things,
About which I genuinely did not care.

My mom though, the good voice of reason,
Swooped in and changed my mind.
When you grow up to be a young woman, she said,
Aligned teeth will give you confidence, you will find.

So I groaned and sighed on this dentist’s chair,
Feeling so vulnerable and small.
He then started talking about “Tooth extraction”,
And oh god my skin began to crawl.

On the drive back home I was adamant,
“NO”, i shrieked, “I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE”,
Getting rid of four of my premolars,
Was an option I just couldn’t choose.

But I had already made the commitment,
Expensive down payments and supplies bought.
I was panicking and spiraling out of control,
This was going to be way tougher than I thought.

We set an appointment with my orthodontist’s colleague,
Dr. Kale, a man with several qualifications,
But knowing about his degrees and honors and awards,
Did nothing to quell my growing trepidation.

So I did what any reasonable kid would do,
I went online and began to google questions.
“How bad does getting your teeth extracted hurt?”
“What can I do to prepare myself? Any suggestions?”

I was bombarded with a flurry of answers,
From accounts like realdentist15 and toothboy_69.
My young mind deemed these sources reputable,
And slowly perused the answers, one at a time.

“I fainted” said one, “I cried” said the other,
“I dont think youre ready for the answer” said a third,
“I was allergic to my anesthetic”, “I threw up last nights tacos”,
The answers kept getting more and more absurd.

But that’s the thing about confirmation biases,
You seek out the information that bolster’s your own preconceptions.
So no amount of answers stating that I will be fine,
Would ever have veered me off my path of self-deception.

I was practically a mess the day arrived,
A shivering mass of nerves and tears.
Sitting in that waiting room, awaiting a fate,
Filled with pain, loss and all my worst fears.

You think i’m being dramatic but you don’t understand,
Exactly how much my life revolved around this event.
I looked nervously at Dr. Kale, his protective mask in place,
Absolutely terrifying in this sterile environment.

He approached with the needle filled with anaesthetic,
And reassuringly said “You’ll feel a little pinch”.
I had read online about the nature of this infliction,
“It will HURT” said anonymous- and I began to flinch.

Somehow through my squinted eyes, I could see,
That he had completed the diabolical deed,
“Wait that was it?” I asked in utter confusion,
“Yes! Wasn’t it fine?” he said, “Shall we proceed?”

I nodded apprehensively, this was the calm before the storm,
He was going to remove my teeth with massive pliers.
Toothhurty50 on reddit said that her dentist couldn’t do it,
“He’ll pull and pull unsuccessfully until he tires”.

Oh no, he clipped the massive forceps on my tooth,
And said, “Im going to pull hard on the count of three”,
“You’ll feel a lot of pressure, let me know if you feel pain”,
This will all be over very soon, you will see.

An undeniable panic set in as he tugged,
On my helpless premolar about to be uprooted.
He was right! This didn’t hurt, I was really surprised,
Dr. Kale’s prediction was completely undisputed.

After a minute of relentless yanking,
Out she popped, nice and easy,
That small little hunk of calcium and pulp,
That primary cause of all my anxiety.

As I looked at the little piece of me,
There in that dentist’s hand,
It dawned on me that this was it,
My fear disappeared, I could not understand,
Just how easily months and months,
Of nail biting hair pulling stress,
Could dissipate with just a glance,
At my tooth, but I digress.

The point is that no matter how big,
A problem seems to be.
No matter how bad you think,
The outcomes you foresee.

Ultimately, as time goes on,
You realize your mind is great at intimidation.
In the end, things will be just fine,
And that was my inci-dental realization.
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