Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Quit Liking Dentists When They Quit Giving Me Nitrous

This is the truth. Dr. K, my childhood dentist, was a hack and a crook, but at least I had something to look forward to when I went for a visit.

[by the way, if dentist stories aren't your cup of mouthwash, you might want to go read a different blog, K?]

Dr. E., the guy I go to now, is acceptable. He is very liberal with the Novocaine and can tell when I'm trying to be stoic. When I had the root canal he gave me over half a dozen shots.

I was never afraid of dentists growing up. Dr. K used to say I was "a wonderful patient."

But in spite of all the dough my parents (who couldn't really afford it) spent on my teeth, I am still falling victim to maladies of the mouth.

I had my first root canal when I was about 23-24. I've had several others since then. The guy I saw today (because Dr. E was not available) said I have "a lot of crowns."

One of them came out yesterday while I was eating something chewy. I tried putting it back in, as Dr. G once recommended, but it really hurt in there. Everything hurt. Air coming in, hot liquids, cold liquids, tongue, you name it. I was not a happy camper yesterday, especially when Dr. E's office said they had no openings. What, they don't know what an "emergency" is? Anyway, they gave me the number for their "other" location, and they said I could come in today.

I didn't have to wait *too* long, but I could tell the place was in a fair amount of chaos. It doesn't do any good to think the dental office needs more employees. That won't help anything. All they do is get in each other's way. This particular crew was composed of loud talkin' young ladies. Lots of them.

Dental offices are a lot more stripped-down than they used to be when I was a kid. Remember the spit sink? I haven't seen one of those in years. Did people stop salivating and forget to tell me?

OK, so the assistant came in, checked my teeth (making me flinch when the air hit), took the crown I gave her and said she was going to sanitize it. Then the dentist, Dr. W, came in. He reminded me of Marcus Welby. But Welby was an MD, not a DDS, and I've decided I like my dentists younger. I prefer quick reflexes, sharp eyes and steady hands.

But anyway. Dr. W gave me the bad news - the reason I was having so much pain after the crown fell out is that there isn't much of my original tooth left. This means that if the crown won't stay in long-term, my next options would be either an implant or a partial. Lovely.

So while I was mulling that over (and freezing - the A/C must have been set at about 64 degrees), he came back in with my crown liberally cemented and said "Ready?" Then he very quickly put the crown in place.

Not quick enough. That SOB hurt! I let out a loud, long yell; I couldn't help it. He apologized and gave me the cotton roll to bite on until the cement cured. It wasn't too long a wait.

Then the assistant came back in and took the cotton out. Right away, I knew there was a problem. She tried to brush it off as "just some cement left -- I'll get it."

Nope. It wasn't cement.

It was the crown. It wasn't fitting flush the way it had before.

This is very typical of my experience with the dentist. Every time I've had to get a crown I go through this. They place it and it feels like I'm biting down on a BB. I tell them; they go get their stupid little piece of black carbon paper, tell me to "bite down, now tap-tap-tap and grind back and forth and side to side." Then they examine their stupid little piece of paper and tell me it "looks fine."

So I grit my teeth some more (for a different reason this time) and tell them "But I can feel it!!" Generally, they give in grudgingly; they all think I'm some sort of flaky dental hypochondriac who gets her jollies by making the poor dears work oh so hard. I've been told previously that I have a "funky little bite." Whatever the hell that means. Sorry, dahlinks, but it's MY bite and I'm the one who has to live with it.

Not to mention -- the damn thing fit fine before!

Today, however, I really wanted to get out of there and get back to work. I was cold, tired and very hungry. Dr. Welby came back in and said because the crown had been out of place for over 24 hours there's a "period of adjustment" and it should start to feel normal in a couple of hours.

That was 7 hours ago. There is no difference. I've had dinner but had to chew very carefully.

I'm going to have to go back, and I'm going to have to make them work. It will probably take about 10 tries before they get it ground/filed down to where I can't feel it.

We're all going to have SO much fun!

[much later: The tooth did get back into line by itself, but it took DAYS, not "a couple of hours."]

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