Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dental Adventures

I hadn't been to the dentist in a long time. I've always had good teeth, very few cavities, and while I knew I should go, I just didn't want to. Then, a few weeks ago I was eating something, I can't remember what, and one of my teeth felt weird. I could feel a kind of ridge with my tongue, and I realized that the tooth had broken. But nothing else happened, so I didn't do anything. Then, a week or so ago, I started having some pain in a different tooth, and I started getting scared about it. I have a mitral valve prolapse, which is the fancy word for a heart murmur, and any time I have dental work I have to be pre-medicated with an antibiotic. I thought, how stupid would it be to die of some kind of infection that could have been prevented?

So I called and made an appointment. But it was so traumatic for me! I know that no one loves going to the dentist, but I also know that most people don't have a terrible phobia about them. Bob used to go all the time. For one thing, I thought that they might give me a hard time for not coming in sooner, and, of course, I was worried about the pain and, not least, the cost.

They were all very nice, of course, and that fear was unfounded. It turned out that I will need to have a crown put on the fractured tooth to try to save it, and the tooth that was giving me pain needed to come out. So they wrote me up a treatment plan, and gave me a referral to a dental surgeon. The appointment for that was Monday, and it was about as traumatic as making the initial appointment was. I really don't tend to get all that upset about things, but this was really getting to me.

The technician could tell that I was upset, and she asked me if I wanted nitrous oxide. She said, "It's $65, and your insurance won't pay for it, but it might be worth it." I declined, not wanting to pay the extra cost, but when the dentist was giving me the shots to numb the area, I would wince, I guess, and he said, "you're jumpy!" The technician asked me if I wanted to try the nitrous, and I said, okay, maybe I should. I had never had it before and didn't know what to expect. It wasn't a huge difference, I don't think, but it probably helped.

I took the rest of the day off, and Bob got me a milk shake for my dinner, which I had to eat with a spoon because I can't use a straw yet. I did go to work the next day, and when I mentioned how traumatic it all had been, one of the girls in the office said, "It's because you're a redhead." Well, actually what she said was, "It's because you're a ginger." Apparently is is a somewhat well known fact that redheads are harder to anesthetize, and have a greater amount of pain and anxiety, particularly regarding dental work. I've always felt like I had a pretty high pain tolerance, and, in face, have never taken any of the pain medications that I've been given after a procedure, but there's just something about dental pain that shakes me. I looked it up, and there was a study documenting it.

Pretty interesting, and somewhat validating.

So anyway, on the day before Thanksgiving, I have to have a crown put on. I'm definitely not looking forward to it, but I'm planning on mentioning the study to the dentist and see if he has heard of it, and/or agrees with it.

1 comment:

Sharon King said...

Willa, I'm just now getting caught up on reading your blog. I can definitely relate to the dentist phobia. I am the same way and I'm a redhead too. Or at least I used to be before I started to get gray. Anyway, I also have a heart murmur and atrial fibrillation and everything related to that and dental work is always traumatic for me. I also have periodontal disease and need some extensive dental work. I've been putting it off, but I'm going to have to face it eventually. I'm glad your experience wasn't too bad.