The dentist’s bite

St Francis Bay freelance journalist takes a look at the other side of life in Woman on Top, her weekly lifestyle column for The Herald

I need to see the dentist soon for an annual check-up. I use the terms “annual” and “check-up” loosely, as it’s been about a million years since I last sat in the chair.

Obviously then, my teeth are past caring about my appearance and have taken to dramatically breaking, falling out or staining themselves yellow before a big function.

The thing about getting your teeth fixed is that if you just did it regularly, you wouldn’t need to have them fixed, would you? A wee filling here, a bit of a scrape ’n brush there and cheery-bye until we meet again, sort of thing.

I could blame my sorry relationship with dentistry on an actual phobia, but I don’t actually have odontophobia or dentophobia – and I don’t experience what up to 10% of Americans do – an insane sweating when I see men and women in white coats.

But now I’m in a load of codswallop and it’s going to cost me a fortune in root canals and false pearlies.

  • Things that go bump in your head
That’s what real or even half-baked phobias do. They cost money, time and reputation –and it’s little wonder medical aids don’t cover them.

I put off getting my jaw yanked and my gums poked with sharp objects because I’m a bit nervous. But I do go. Eventually. Pity the people who are genuinely, madly and deeply petrified of, say, roses or, ye gods forbid, shopping malls?

Can you begin to imagine the lives they must lead? A fear of heights, fair enough – you just stay close to the ground.

A fear of flying – a little tricky but who needs to holiday in the Maldives anyway when there’s a nice Karoo experience around the corner, accessible by road?

I know people whose lives are twisted into the strangest shapes because they simply will not, cannot eat, sniff, climb, stand, look at or hear whotsit or another.

  • The clown haters
And even though you think it is, it’s not funny. A close family member (can’t name and shame him – I like the guy) has severe astynomiaphobia. He’s so frightened that I can’t even tell you what it is.

When his mates found out, and threatened to “astynomia” his “phobia” at his stag night, his bride-to-be found out in the nick of time and probably saved a few lives – or jaw bones – in the process.

This is fair warning, then. When next you invite a clown to your friend’s 30th because you know it’ll scare her pantless, consider how you’d feel waking up to wasps in your bed. Or rats in the fridge. Or a dentist in your bathroom.

There’s nothing more terrifying than having your broccoliphobia fuelled by the chocophobe to whom you gave a fat slab of Lindt last week.