September 02, 2006

Delayed Dentistry Kicks Me In the Teeth

As seemingly every other nerdy non-sports-playing, spelling bee winning youngster did, I was subjected to the childhood role of wearing bright metal braces for a significant portion of my elementary school career. Whether for braces tightenings, checkups, or other random maintenance, at one point I was seeing our dentist every two weeks, and just had to remember after school to take one bus rather than the usual route home. In junior high and high school, we maintained less-frequent visits but stayed within a standard deviation from the normal target of twice a year, without too many incidents.

But this changed once I got to college, and now in the workplace. Whether as a result of a series of moves in the Bay Area, lacking a single contact for all things teeth-related, through sheer apathy and annoyance to the dental profession in its entirety, or through too much time consumed by work and other activities, the regular checkups turned to irregular checkups, and then... no checkups. As I didn't think I had any issues to speak of, there wasn't any need to go in every six months just to satiate the ADA's mandatory need for cash. After all, what's to stop them from deciding we should all go three times a year instead, as a ploy to increase revenue?

My somewhat-intentional dentistry boycott all backfired on me starting last Friday, when while snacking on Skittles at the office, a wayward filling popped itself out of a back left tooth, leaving a hole in its place. That evening, my wife set me up with her dentist for an appointment this last Tuesday to get it taken care of, plus X-rays and cleaning while we were there. Made sense.

Tuesday: I headed to the dentist's, got introduced, assessed the situation, and we took X-rays. My hopes of a quick 1-hour procedure were shattered, when he felt the filling's ejection indicated the tooth it was attached to was in a state of rebellion, not due to any lack of hygiene on my part, but because the filling, placed by my old dentist a decade or so ago, had outlived its usefulness and attacked the tooth. Great. So much for trusting the whole field. In fact, the new dentist recommended I replace all my existing metal fillings. So, we did a quick cleaning, and scheduled to now investigate putting in a crown on that tooth the very next day. I went home more annoyed than ever, and still had a hole where my tooth should have been intact.

Wednesday: Back to the dentist, to start the crown. Or so I thought. He did "deep cleaning" on the left side of my mouth, and drilled away at the offending tooth, eliminating decay, and shot me up with all sorts of painkiller. While that was fun, at the end of it all, he announced that he had changed plans altogether, had not started the crown at all, and instead had done fillings on that tooth, and those neighboring it, as a preventative measure. He said he didn't want to start the crown if my tooth were to rebel further and necessitate a root canal. Uh-oh. So, he sent me off, said to watch for later pain, and to come back the very next day to see if they could start the crown. At least the hole in my tooth was gone.

Thursday: Third consecutive day at the dentist's, so I started off plenty sullen. More painkiller. More shots in the same places as before, already sore, but this time, they cut all around my tooth and fitted it for a temporary crown, while a third-party lab would make me "the perfect fit", which I wouldn't get for two more weeks. The hygienist put in a temporary which would fit in very well in Pirates of the Carribean, as it's gold and, at an angle, is only half as high on the exterior side as the interior. Arrgghh Matey!

But they weren't done with the marathon. It was suggested I come back the very next day to "deep clean" the right side. You wouldn't want to have one side clean and other not, or so I was told. Apparently the Earth was about to spin off of its axis and I would be responsible. Sigh.

Friday: 4 days, 4 visits. I took my place in what I consider "my chair" now, and readied for the deep cleaning. But they then said I was there for deep cleaning and a filling. What? They never mentioned that before. I guess another "change in plans". Cute. I was told it was again, preventative, and that  the whole field of dentistry had moved to a doctrine of preemption. Chalk another victory up for the Bush doctrine, I guess. Whatever. What was I going to do? Leave? Argue? So I got more shots. More pain killer, but on the right side this time, not the left. More drilling. More thumb-twiddling. But it really didn't take that long, leaving my words slurred and seeing me exit the office with a gold tooth on the left side, fillings on both sides, and somehow trying to favor both sides of my mouth when I eat, so you can guess there are a few things off of the dinner menu for a few days.

Two weeks from now, we go back and get the crown finished, or so I've been told so far. Given this week's nonsense, I wouldn't be too surprised if I walk in and had been asked to be fitted for false teeth, the implantation of a diamond stud, or to once again, get braces, as a preemptive measure. And everybody who knows I took a self-imposed dentist vacation says this is all my fault. If you ask me, I shouldn't have had all these metal fillings put in there if they weren't supposed to stay. That's silly, and now I'm at the stage of getting a crown because the last dentist didn't know his work was going to mess me up.  Arrgghh Matey!

Listening to ''Escape Velocity 015'', by DJ Irish (Play Count: 2)

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