Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Not What I Expected!

I was up early this morning to go to the dentist.  My hubby already had an appointment scheduled, and when I accidentally pulled off a crown while eating some sticky candy the other night...well, you get the picture!

So off we went.  He was scheduled for some repairs on his partial, and I expected to have a ten minute appointment to glue the crown back on.  No pain, just a glue job!  How hard could that be?

Well, as the title says, it was not what I expected.  Upon examining the crown I pulled out of my mouth, the doctor said - "there is a problem."  Lordy I hate that phrase!  As it turned out, the crown had taken part of the tooth with it when it came off.  I knew this wasn't going to be the ten minute appointment I had expected, but little did I know what I was in for!  I have a lot of respect for the dentist I see now here in Utah.  He is a DDS and has a wonderful bedside manner.  He is very thorough when he explains what needs to be done as well as all the options. 

So after explaining that the tooth was beyond repair - there just wasn't enough of it left to re-attach the crown - he began to go over what needed to be done.  First, the tooth in question would have to be extracted.  Ugh.  Then he explained that I would need a "bridge."  Now I really didn't know what that entailed, so my first thought went to "partials" and what goes along with them.  I didn't want that. He said, "oh no," and pulled out a "demo" bridge to show me exactly how it worked.  He would extract the remaining tooth, and then prepare the teeth on either side of the extraction for crowns which would attach to form the "bridge."  My first thought was, "okay, at least it is installed permanently, and I won't have to be taking it out."  However as the reality of the cost of a single crown sank in, I asked "okay, does that mean this will cost about as much as the price of 3 crowns?"  Unfortunately the answer was yes.  Ouch! 

Oh well, there really weren't any other good options.  The tooth immediately behind the extraction already had a crown (which was slightly damaged) and the tooth in front of the extraction had a large filling.  All this added up to a bridge. First x-rays were taken, and then impressions before the real fun began.

The Dentist got a numbing solution on my gums and then proceeded to "inject" the other anesthetic.  This was not going to be fun!  I really do not enjoy going to the dentist, and I don't even like the sound of the drill.  The extraction was a little more difficult than I expected, and even with the anesthetic, I still felt some of the pain.  The dentist put a foam filler in the hole, and then a stitch.  He informed me it would heal much more quickly that way, and there would be no way food could get into the cavity. 

Now on to step two.  Both of the other teeth had to be prepared to accept crowns.  As the dentist was working on one of the teeth (which had had a root canal years ago) he stopped and said - "I know you are a nurse, so a little blood won't bother you will it?"  I assured him it would not.  He then got a round mirror and directed me to look at the area he was working in.  Oh my gosh!  He began to pull at a piece of material stuffed down into the area where the root canal had been performed.  "See this? This is a cotton ball that someone left in your tooth under the filling after the root canal."  I could hardly believe it!  Oh my gosh how could that have happened.  I then remembered what a difficult time I had after that particular root canal.  It was done by a DDS in Atlanta, when my insurance company refused to let me go to a local doctor for the work.  On the drive home (fortunately I had my daughter drive me there) the thing began to hurt terribly.  It became worse in a hurry.  This root canal had been done on a Friday, and I was given the dentists number to call if I had any problem.  By Saturday morning I realized there was a really big problem.  Not only was the pain unbelievable, but I had begun to run a temperature.
I tried all day to get the dental office, no answer.  No message with an alternate number. No way to leave a message.   Being a RN,  as my temperature rose to 103, I contacted my family physician and told her what was going on, as I knew this wasn't going to get better on its own.  Thank God she called in an antibiotic for me.  I would have ended up in the emergency room otherwise. 

On the Monday following the root canal, I was finally able to reach the dental office in Atlanta and tell them about the problems I had over the weekend.  They apologized and stated they had a problem with their messaging system! Do you think?  Good grief.  The dentist called me later an apologized and gave me his personal cell phone number, but by that point I knew I would never use them again no matter what my insurance company

I had always had really good teeth until I passed age 50.  It was then that the problems began.  While eating popcorn one day, I broke a tooth on a kernel.  I immediately called my dentist at the time and he brought me in right away.  When I said something about how weird it was the tooth broke he said, "Linda, remember these teeth are over 50 years old.  What do you expect?"  Oh my.  So, if you are under 50 - look out!  Your turn is coming!

Anyway, to continue today's story.  After the extraction the dentist began to work on the other two teeth to prepare them for a crown.  The tooth in the back which had the root canal was painless, however, the tooth on the front side was not quite numb and required more injections to get it to a point of discomfort instead of pain. 

Two hours later, after the prep, new x-rays and special cleaning and drying of the area, I was fitted with a temporary "plastic" bridge.  I will have to go back in six weeks after my gums have healed and are no longer swollen.  I will get my permanent bridge at that time.

So, as you can see my ten minute appointment turned out to be two full hours in the dental chair, and much more expensive. 

The dentist I have now is excellent.  I did a lot of research before choosing him.  He has had excellent reviews and awards.  Before you see any physician or dentist, you need to do your research.  I wish I had done that before the Atlanta root canal from Hell.  Remember cheaper doesn't mean better when it comes to physicians (in fact, it usually means quite the opposite). 

Take care of those choppers while you are young.  Brushing, flossing and regular cleaning by a really good dental hygienist will help, as well as proper diet.  All of us like some sweets occasionally, but try to make wise choices there as well.  Those candies which stick to the teeth (like caramels) are going to be much worse than a piece of hard candy or peppermint.  Don't let your kids (or you either) drink juice all day!  Drink water.  Keeping your teeth bathed in sugar and sugary drinks really is tough on them. 

And, remember too, that the health of your teeth is not just about your teeth.  The health of your teeth affects your overall health.  These are just a few of those problems that have been connected to poor oral hygiene:
So take good care of those pearly whites people!


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