I am consciously trying not to clench my hands, instead allowing them to lie flat along my thighs. It's only when I realise I have hiked my dress up over my knees that I can see I am not fooling anyone. We can all smell the fear in the room.
The dentist is not looking at my knees though. She's more interested in the mess in my mouth.
'Suction', she says for the tenth time. I can tell she's getting irritated with her new assistant, or is she irritated with me, an otherwise rational woman in her early 30s with a very childish and irrational fear of dentists.
'You know you really need to floss, Shannon', she tells me. 'How regularly do you floss?'
Surely she doesn't expect a response. My mouth is full of cotton wool, doing a poor job of absorbing the saliva that the assistant seems incapable of suctioning.
The sound of the drill is making my heart race. Writing this now I can still hear it piercing my head, vibrating my sanity, emptying my wallet.
I had the choice of a standard filling or a porcelain one. The porcelain one would last much longer but at almost $1,000 it wasn't an option. I actually felt my eyes prickle when I saw the quote.
'Does that start with a 9?' I asked.
The receptionist looked nonplussed. 'Yes...'
They try to disguise the chemicals, the pastes, the fillers they use with a peppermint flavour, as though it will make the experience of having your head drilled more palatable. It just makes me hate peppermint.
'Are you okay, Shannon?' the dentist kept asking.
Maybe I shouldn't have told her about my fear of dentists. She probably thought I was going to throw up.
'Almost done now,' she also kept saying, although it was almost an hour before she released me on the promise I would return to get three more teeth fixed.
'Two pregnancies and poor flossing are ruining your teeth. Sometimes Mums need to put themselves first', she tells me as she pats my arm and shuffles me out.
$400 later, and with the left side of my face feeling like it had inflated to comic proportions, I stood in front of the dairy section at Coles. The only food I could safely eat without accidentally chewing off my own tongue would be yoghurt or creme caramel.
The dentist had suggested yoghurt,
I chose the creme caramel.