I writhe in pain as my teeth start breaking off in my mouth. I realize this is happening because I am clamping down on my teeth with such terrible force, but I can't seem to make myself stop. I try to relax my jaws, but nothing works, and I just lie there helplessly as tooth after tooth breaks off. I almost vomit as I run my tongue over the jagged remains of the teeth and I wonder what I can do to save them. Anguish washes over me as I realize all my teeth are gone.
Then, I wake up.
This is the one dream I have that is recurring. I don't have it often, but when I do, I'm shaken for the rest of the day.
Anything with teeth freaks me out. I dread dentist appointments with a fierce passion. I almost have a panic attack when they poke my teeth to find cavities. I have practiced more Lamaze breathing techniques at the dentist's office than during the births of all three of my children.
That scene in Marathon Man where the dentist drills Dustin Hoffman's teeth with no anesthetic horrifies me.
Which is why this particular dream is so nightmarish to me. And why it seems supremely unfair that I have it at least a couple times a year.
So, what could be worse than having a recurring nightmare about your worst fear?
Having that dream actually come true.
Which is exactly what happened to me one fine afternoon in college.
I was sitting in the hallway before Chinese class, chewing some gum when I heard a terrifying crack. When I felt something crunchy in my gum, I nearly lost my lunch.
I rushed to the bathroom to inspect my tooth, but everything appeared normal. I couldn't tell if anything had broken off or not, so I did what I normally do in very unpleasant situations. I pretended everything was hunky dory.
I was violently wrenched out of my comfortable state of denial when I heard another earsplitting crack during class. The gaping hole in molar mocked me as I sat in class swallowing down my sobs.
On the verge of hyperventilating, I tried to clear my thoughts, but I was overcome by panic. All I could think was that my nightmare was coming true. My teeth were cracking off one by one and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
Soon, my mouth would be filled with the jagged, splintered remains of my teeth, that I was sure there was no way to fix.
I didn't eat for days for fear that more of my teeth would crack off, leaving my nerves exposed and pulsing with pain.
My new dentist later informed me that my tooth broke because of a root canal that had been performed a few years back. Apparently, root canals can make the tooth become brittle and easily broken, which is why most dentists put a crown on it. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, my dentist hadn't informed me of this.
Still, even armed with this information, I am living with the unshakable certainty that my teeth are just waiting for the perfect moment to drive me into the pit of despair. Someday, they will revolt and start cracking off, leaving me with jagged, horrifying teeth that will cut my tongue and make strangers gape at me.
Just when I think I have put this incident behind me, I have that terrifying nightmare.
For more posts on dreams that are surely far less macabre than this one, visit the Spin Cycle at its new home at Second Blooming!