Please don’t judge me.

I’m 62. I’m afraid of the dentist.

Oh, I go to the dentist every six months like I’m told. When you are 62, your antique body is in constant need of check up and tune up.

I have more doctors for this aging body than I have friends. The podiatrist for my plantar fasciitis. The orthopedist whose down payment on his new Porsche will be my knee replacement surgery.

We won’t discuss the colonoscopy over your breakfast this morning. Or the dermatologist who scrapes the cancer from my skin.

My general physician says I’m doing good for an old guy. The cardiologist says the tests found nothing despite me feeling faint and the tingling in my left arm.

My eye doctor is trying to decide if this is the year my cataracts come out. The retina specialist checks me each year to make sure my retinal tear doesn’t return.

I’ve got more doctors than I have friends. But it’s the dentist who I prefer to visit the least.

I’m 62. I’m afraid of the dentist.

Yet, I go. Every six months. Except this year. With COVID-19, I missed my March exam and cleaning. I am more afraid of catching COVID-19, unknowingly passing it on to someone who dies, than having my teeth go yellow. Going to see the dentist or any medical professional office – off my list since March.

My wife encouraged me to go back. I was the first patient the first day the dermatologist opened up. Once you have skin cancer, you don’t want to postpone the checkup. My annual physical went off without a hitch. Still no medicine of any kind – but if I lost five or 10 pounds, Dr. P. would be happier.

I have an appointment with the eye doctor and am working on the retinal specialist.

But the dentist? Did I mention I’m 62 and afraid of the dentist? My wife said my teeth were dirty looking. Yet I postponed.

“COVID’s out there” was my excuse. At the dentist’s office with all that water and spit flying everywhere? Wouldn’t a dentist’s office be among the most dangerous places to be during this pandemic?

Gentlemen, you know how this story ends. My wife encouraged me to go to the dentist. I went.

As the dental hygienist behind the mask and face shield started to use her gloved hands to open my mouth, I stopped her and asked her this question: “So, as long as you’ve been back, how many COVID cases have you had at this office among the many dentists and staff?”

I couldn’t tell if she was laughing at me behind the mask. But her eyes said she was laughing at my paranoia.

“Not one case, Mr. Dunn-Rankin. And not one case that we know of for any dentist’s office in the county.”

As I’ve gone in for my medical tune ups, I’ve asked this question to each of my doctors. Despite seeing dozens of patients in their offices every day – there were no known cases of a doctor or their assistant getting sick from a patient or a patient getting sick from going to the doctor.

It’s OK. Go see your doctors. Don’t be afraid to go to the dentist.

Share your thoughts.

David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Highlands News-Sun and the Highlands Sun, as well as newspapers in Lake, Polk and Sumter counties. He can be reached at David@D-R.Media .