I finally broke down and went to the dentist. The tooth has been getting worse over the last few years, ever since my sadly departed dentist said I didn’t need a root canal.
I found myself a new dentist. He’s young and kinda cute. Hopefully, he wont die like my last two dentists. Third time’s a charm, hopefully.
My hygenist is very nice. She just finished school about 5 months ago but you’d never know that she’s sorta inexperienced.
Every other dentist office I’ve been in has looked just about the same. They’re usually in old apartment buildings. The exam rooms are small and decorated in a way that’s supposed to make them seem comforting but instead end up looking like medieval torture chambers. There’s usually tinny music playing somewhere up above. The music is another form of torture.
The exam starts with x-rays. Those huge pieces of plastic get shoved in my small mouth, sometimes drawing blood. Wont someone ever develop x-ray pieces which fit in a lady’s mouth? Then, the scraping starts. The hygenist will scrape and scrape until my mouth is sore and usually bleeding. Then they will spend about 5 seconds putting paste on my poor teeth and then it’s time to swish and spit. By this time, the x-rays are done and my new dentist can finally tell me what’s wrong with my moth this time. The x-rays are small and not very detailed. They (the dentist and hygenist) gang up on me and CLAIM to see all these cavities which I just don’t see. I have to take their word for it. I wonder if they’re pulling my leg, to see how much money they can get out of me.
I went there today expecting the worst. I know I need a root canal. No, I’m not a dentist. No, I’ve never had more than a filling before. So, how do you know? You might ask. Well, because I’m not stupid. Any halfwit could figure it out with the pain I’ve been enduring. And I’m not a halfwit. I’m at least a three-quarterwit.
The waiting room looked exactly like all the others. The little window into the office was the same. My first surprise though, the receptionist/scheduler was a … MAN!!! I’ve never seen a man in this position at any medical type facility I’ve ever been to. What the hell?!
Anyway, I was waiting and waiting and waiting. I didn’t mind. I had my audio copy of The Shining so I was happy. But, I got my next surprise. Mr office guy interrupted my audio pleasure not once, not twice, but 3 times!, to give me an update on how much longer my wait would be. He apologized profusely. I told him I didn’t mind. I had my book and I didn’t have anywhere else to be. After all, I know I’d hate to have my hygenist rush my cleaning just because some NEW patient was in the waiting room.
Finally, my Hygenist (Louise) came to get me. I passed through the sacred door and got the biggest (I thought) shock of all. There was a bustling of technology beyone that door. There were exam rooms all over the place. Each was decorated in a manner I knew was specific to the occupant. I learned later that I was correct. Each hygenist has her own exam room. No sharing in this place. They decorate how they like and can keep their tools where they like. Everyone has their own style, after all. I walked past some equipment. One machine I new was making a piece of dental hardware. I don’t know how I knew this as I’ve never seen one before. It was just a feeling I had. I was right about that too. It was making a crown. There was a cabinet with towels and other linens. Normally I wouldn’t have known this because the cabinets usually have doors on them. This one had doors too but the door had a window cut in it. And the shelf lighting was BLUE NEON! It was so cool.
Finally, we reached Louise’s “office”. The first thing I saw was a computer, with flat panel monitor, mounted on a retractable arm. Cool, I thought. I wonder what she uses that for? I sat in the chair and was so interested in the computer, it took me about 10 minutes to notice the flat panel (with full cable) mounted to the wall in front of my torture chair. I actually didn’t even notice it was there until Louise gave me the remote.
I noticed that the computer monitor had a chart showing all the teeth which should be in a normal person’s mouth. I wondered if that was relevant somehow. Louise started taking my x-rays. The little pieces of plastic felt different somehow but I couldn’t tell how. They actually felt bigger and more painful. I was not enjoying myself. Then, I realized they little piece of plastic had what appeared to be a cable coming out of it. It finally dawned on me that my x-rays were being sent directly to the computer behind me. After Louise finished the x-rays, I was full of questions. I had never seen something so cool in any doctor’s office. She showed me the x-rays and for once, I could see all the cavities and fillings. I could see that two of my teeth have strange curving roots. I could clearly see where my lone baby tooth resides. I could actually tell which tooth was which, just by looking at her monitor. Then, it got better. She started zooming in on suspected cavities. She chould click a button on her mose and a “flashlight” would shine on the spot, illuminating all the defects in my mouth. She could even change the colors to show contrast.
After showing me all the cool toys, she started marking my problems. She would look at the x-ry and then click on the correct tooth on the chart. She would then choose the actual location of the problem, and identify the problem. The chart would change color to show what and where. When she was done (about 10 minutes), I saw a very definite picture of 10 cavities needing filling. I was so engrossed that I totally forgot I hadn’t even had a pick in my mouth yet. Before Louise even looked in my mouth, she knew exactly what she would see. She knew where to be gentle and knew I’d need a root canal without even seeing the tooth.
The cleaning was much less painful than any other I had ever had. Since she had already seen a very detailed picture of all my teeth, she took extra care in my few bad spots. As she cleaned, she answered my questions with lots of detail and I actually understood what she said. I learned a lot about my mouth and dental problems while I was there. I have more respect for my mouth and teeth now, since she informed me that the bacteria found in the mouth has been identified as being the same involved in some heart related problems. She explained why the gaps I have in my front teeth are actually a good thing and she gave me a toothpaste which has more flouride than normal. She said I have some pre-cavities and the extra flouride will help to fix them before they become full-blown problems. When the doctor came in, they didn’t have to waste time going over the x-rays again. He just looked a the chart and new exactly how many appointments I’ll need to fix the problems.
An hour after I sat down, I left the office. My mouth doesn’t hurt (except that one tooth, which always hurts) and my teeth and gums feel very clean. I have a root canal next Monday. The three days following will each have 3 fillings. By next Friday, I will have no unfinished business in my mouth, although my insurance company and I will be noticeably poorer.