Monday, October 26, 2015

Dental Angst

I regret to inform the dental community that my feelings haven't changed. I am trying, but I basically still don't like your profession, and have serious doubts about the scientific basis for what you do, especially since your basic instruments haven't changed since, generously, the early 1800's, with the possible exception that you now use sedation instead of whiskey.

I had a regular appointment with the dentist this morning. By regular, I mean I am a regular client, NOT that I actually see the dentist on a regular basis. No, in fact, until today, I have not seen the actual dentist since the last time I wrote about going to the dentist 18 months ago. Seriously. I generally make the 7am appointment since this guarantees that I won't have to go in late to work, leave early, and/or schedule time off for a cleaning. The hygienist is always there, but the last three appointments, the dentist hasn't come in yet by the time I'm done. If I did that at work, I'd be fired, but apparently, having a DDS exempts you from these kinds of actually-having-to-go-to-work restrictions.

Note: they mentioned I had the start of a cavity 18 months ago, but I never did anything about it, and in the three subsequent appointments, they never said anything about it, so I figured we were good.

The last time I was there, they took x-rays, and, because the dentist wasn't in, said that she would review them and they would contact me.

Five and a half months later, they called and said that I needed a filling. I honestly couldn't help it. I said to the woman who called, "umm, you know I was in there five and a half months ago, and I have another appointment scheduled in three weeks, right?" after she asked if I wanted to schedule for the filling. "Why don't we just take care of it when I come in." So she scheduled me.

I mean, I know it isn't the scheduler's fault, but that should have been a lot more embarrassing for her than it was. Really? Five and a half months? What if I had been in pain? What if I had a human skull growing in one of my teeth? It makes it a little hard to prioritize oral hygiene when the dentist can't even be bothered to look at x-rays for nearly half a year.

I know, you're asking the question, why are you going to this dentist if this is what they do? Well, the truth is, lack of dentine prioritization is REAL and I haven't bothered to find a new dentist, and up until just recently, this office was really near our house.

So I showed up this morning for my 7am cleaning, followed by a filling. The oh-so-perky dental hygienist did the stick and poke routine, complained about the bleeding (that would be my tongue, from biting it as to not make snarky remarks about gums bleeding less from a lack of flossing and more from the sharp metal instrument she was poking them with!),and even went as far to make a suggestion on the best application of the electric toothbrush I'm now using. "You know, in case you want to improve." I don't. I'm basically ignoring everything she says and entertaining myself with memories of Little Shop of Horrors.

Then she called the dentist. Holy cow! The dentist is in! Turns out, its a new dentist, male. He introduced himself as Dr. Fred... something that sounded like Trasher or Thrasher or something not too dissimilar from pain-inflictor. Not even kidding. Then he shook my hand and gave me the icky I-only-grab-the-tips-of-women's-fingers handshake that I, full disclosure, immediately associate with misogynists. I'm not saying this guy WAS a misogynist, but that's what I get from those kind of handshakes, and my experiences says I'm not always (or even mostly) wrong.

At this point, Little Shop was doing the full-out Broadway production in my head, with lights and orchestra and dancing. Steve Martin was making cameo appearances.


Dr. Thrasher or Basher or whatever, confirms that I need a filling from the x-ray, looks in my mouth for approximately a nanosecond, and leaves. The oral hygienist says "oh your filling isn't until 9am" at which point I correct her and say I had scheduled the two together, which causes a tizzy and flurry of activity in the reception area (which I can hear). Since I feel confident that they know I'm not waiting in their lobby for an hour, the miraculously figured out how to squeeze me into their so-busy schedule (read, there were two other patients in the building.) I am walked to the other side of the office, and am greeted by a different hygienist, and she and the good doctor go to work on my mouth.

Let me first say I am grateful that they use a numbing agent and not whiskey on my teeth before grinding. However, I am not kidding when I tell you that I am confident that the needle they poked me with this morning (twice, for 8 seconds each) is the same needle that was around in the 1920's. Big, stainless steel, double-finger plunger... yea. I've seen old movies with that thing as a prop. Next, they stuck one enormous building block in my mouth that probably came out of the children's play area in there to keep my mouth open. Finally, they started grinding away at that poor back molar, which fortunately, I can't feel, but I can hear and smell. At one point, I made the mistake of opening my eyes, and, no joke, there was smoke coming out of my mouth. All the while, when the dentist is bothering to acknowledge that there is a person on the other side of the teeth he is whittling, he is down talking to me. SO irritating. The one comfort was that he popped in and out of my procedure several times to work on the crown in the next chair, and he was down talking to that person too. Ick. Not personal, but ick (and possibly another symptom of that crappy handshake).

After what felt like several millennia, the finally were done. All this for a cavity that I still couldn't feel, and, until the filling was over with, couldn't have told you what tooth the procedure was for.

On my way out, they wanted to schedule a six-month appointment. I told them I was moving, and then they acted surprised that I didn't want to drive out of my way to come back to their office. "It's not that far!" said the overly perky hygienist, who was now at the desk. I come from that way.

Lady, there is a dentist office literally across the street from my office. (And I hear they actually show up on a regular basis.) I'll take the chance that I'm going to stop with the dental-laziness, and schedule with them instead.

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