Monday, March 12, 2012
Pollen and the Dentist
A few Halloween's ago I happen to crack my back molar on a jaw breaker and recently the filling fell out. I was in no pain and with our financial situation the tooth repair remained on the back burner. Each spring pollen season brings me to the doctor for a sinus infection but this year I seemed to have the caught the symptoms in time. Except the sinus pressure was playing havoc on my tooth. All bills caught up, finally, dental insurance in hand, I make an appointment at a place new to me. Not totally new to us, as my sweetie had a partial done there so I figured they could handle my little tooth repair.
Get to my appointment and I am nervous. I don't really know why I am so nervous as I have spent a great deal of time in the dental chair enduring braces in high school, wisdom teeth surgery, and four years working at a dental school. My boss was the associate dean and if a student needed a particular lab requirement the staff was the patient. I have some excellent dental work to show for this duty.
The dental assistant goes over my history, why am I there, does the xrays, takes my blood pressure and then off to get the dentist. I am greeted by the dentist that did not take the bedside manner course. Why am I there, your blood pressure is high, you need to see a doctor immediately and what about these stains?
I was a baby that had a dose of tetracycline and my life began in a high fluoride town. So I have lived with "these stains" for years. If I can get the cracked tooth fixed that has begun to bother me fixed I might look into the cosmetic stuff. Bottom line, he can not decide if he wants to fix my tooth (root canals and crown) or do an extraction and implant. Implant? How much is that going to cost? No wonder why my blood pressure is high.
He leaves and sends in the business manager who goes over the options and repair (no implant, I was afraid to ask) would be a total over $400. So, how much to just extract it? $85. When does some one actually decide what will actually need to be done? Business manager goes off and returns with the charming endodontist (root canal guy) who aced the bedside manner course. You know, the crack is well below the gum line and it would be a considerable amount of money to repair the tooth, why not just extract it to relieve the pain. $85. Sadly, I decide to take the extraction option realizing I am stuck with the dentist instead of the charming option. Appointment in two days. Anticipation.
Arrive for my appointment, greeted by the pleasant dental assistant, propped up in the chair and take my blood pressure. In comes my dentist. Why did my dentist decide the tooth could not be saved? It was your endodontist that made the decision to take the less costly route. Oh. Why is your blood pressure so high? I really should not be proceeding today.
Maybe it is because I am sitting in this chair totally terrified by the lack of professionalism but only mumble something about being nervous getting my tooth extracted. Dental chair, chuckle. Does not see my nervous humor point. Deep breath.
Numbing. Then the dentist offers the first bit of information about the procedure. There will be pressure, lots of pressure, you may hear some popping if the roots break but he will be able to remove the tooth. If at any time you feel any pain, stop him and he will administer more pain killer to the area. Ok, I feel comfortable, at last.
Open wide, pressure, popping. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. (Realize this is perfectly good tooth other than the fact it has a big crevice in the back side - it does not want to come out.) Wrangle, shaking, (running out of descriptors here) and he stops. I am exhausted.
"I do not understand why they charged you for a simple extraction when something like this requires surgery." WHAT? I motion to the dental assistant to give me the suction device. Slurp.
"Do I need a surgeon?" Incredulous.
"No, I can do the procedure but I can not believe you are only paying for a simple extraction."
Astonished, "Is there an other dentist here?"
"Well, yes. Do you want another dentist?"
"I find this... "
I pause and take a deep breath and realize I may be about to walk out with a really broken tooth if this does not work out well.
"... an unusual time for you to be discussing my payment arrangements. Are you going to be able to finish this?"
"Yes, I can extract the tooth."
Wrangling, tooth out. Now to dig out that nasty healthy root. Whew. Done, finally. He leaves. No, pleasantries. I turn to the dental assistant and inquire if the root was truly out. She assures me that it was removed. She gives me my directions, prescriptions, and tells me that I may transfer my treatment plan to the other dentist in the office if I prefer. Lets just see if I live through this day first.
My heart is now stuck in permanent overdrive. Just writing about this process has me jumping out of my skin again. Now looking for a cardiac specialist and will put the cosmetic dentistry on hold for awhile.