Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Day At The Dentist

I had to schedule an appt. with my dentist's office to have some dental work done before going in for surgery in a couple weeks. This is because dental work often allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which may cause infection around a new valve. While I'm not getting a 'new' valve, as far as I know, the one I already have will be repaired. Better safe than sorry.

I knew I needed a good teeth cleaning and a new cap to replace the one that broke off from a root canal that was done a few years ago. So I called my regular dentist's office to make an appt. I explained to the receptionist that I needed to be seen before Feb. 10th because I was going in for heart surgery on the 20th. She said, well, we can see you on the 27th.
Ummmm, no, that won't do I need dental work done BEFORE my surgery and I explained why. Nope, can't see you before the 27th. Mrs. H took over from here and very haughtily I might add, replied "never mind, we'll find a new dentist who WILL fit us in." She handed the phone back to me and started rummaging through the cupboards looking for a bottle of wine. When she gets wired, she needs wine to soothe the beast in her. Did I mention I think she may have a drinking problem?

Mrs. H did not find any wine and after giving me the evil eye, proceeded to help me thumb through the local phone directory looking for a dentist close by. We found one less than a mile from us who was able to take us almost immediately. How about that!!

On the day of the dentist appt. Mrs H informed me that she was going to just skip this 'togetherness' thing we have going and was going to stay home and catch up on our soaps. Like hell I replied, we're in this together lady, and we're due at Dr. R's in an hour, time to take the antibiotics. Mrs. H asks if it'd be okay to take them with a glass of wine. No, you don't mix pills and wine, and besides we don't have any. She makes a note to stop by the liquor store on our way home. I take the pills, all 4 at one time with a small glass of water and ripped up her note when she wasn't looking.

We arrive at Dr. R's 15 minutes early and fill out the required information. When we got to the part of who to contact in case of emergency, I started to write down Tom's name and she scratched that out and tried writing in Mrs. H. I grabbed the pen from her and said, "what do you think you are doing?" She replied " I am your next of kin, I'm closer to you than our husband." Shaking my head I take possession of the pen and ban her to another area of the waiting room. Sometimes she gets on my nerves.

When it's our turn, Mrs. H informs me she will wait out in the waiting room and I think that's probably best.

Until she got a good look at Dr. R . When he came out and introduced himself Mrs. H stood up, preened and batted her eyelashes. She pushed me aside and shook his hand, not letting go right away. He managed to disengage her without too much hassle. While he was looking through our information I got a good look at him. He was Dr. McDreamy with silver streaked hair and mustache. He wore glasses, but he wore them well. His eyes belonged to none other than Paul Newman. Dr. Hottie. Good Lord, I'm beginning to sound like Mrs. H!!!!!

We needed to have a complete set of xrays and after an initial oral examination, Dr. McDreamy announced that while I did need a new cap for that one tooth ( the root canal) it was more important to take care of the mild case of gingivitis right now, especially since I'm going to have surgery. GINGIVITIS. Oh my. He explained what needed done, and how much it was going to cost me. Mrs. H fainted. It was doubtful our dental insurance, which really sucks, would pay much of it. Perhaps just a portion of the Xrays, but that he'd turn the bill over to them and 'see what happens'. In the meantime he very generously permitted me to pay half the bill that day and if I paid the remainer within 3 months, he'd give me a 10% discount. I really didn't have much of a choice and would have preferred to consult with Tom, but it was important to have the treatment since Dr. McD. pointed out that if the bacteria in my gums found their way into my blood stream and traveled to my heart, it might not be pretty. Too bad, Tom, suck it in dear, I'm making this decision on my own. Go for it Doc.

The Xrays were unpleasant. Not painful, but extremely uncomfortable. The Xray itself was a piece of cake, it was the plastic thingamajigee that's inserted into your mouth that was a royal pain. It goes under your tongue where the stuff that's in there, while gross to look at, is tender and fragile. The tech kept apologizing each time I grunted in pain but I suspect she had her own Mrs. H and that she was the one doing the Xrays.

The Xrays are completed and are being developed. Dr. McD has a seat behind me and wears a face mask and surgical gloves. He explains that he's about to inspect my teeth and will be giving each one a 'number' from 1 to 5+. 1 being good, 3-4 moderate and 5+ pretty bad. He gently pricks my gums at each tooth. 1, 3, 2, 1, 6, 4, 5, 5, 3, 6 etc. I heard quite a few 5's in there. A couple 6's. After some of those numbers I also heard 'bleeding'. That didn't sound good. The funny thing is, when I brush my teeth and gums, they do not bleed. I guess if you poke at them with a sharp dental instrument though, they are going to bleed, unless you're dead.

Btw, the procedure I'm going to have is called scaling & planing of the root, beneath the gumline. The next step was gauging how much the gum was receding from the tooth, exposing the root. Again, all those lovely numbers. Mrs. H brought along her fingernail file and nail polish and was yawning and doing our manicure while we were just sitting there with our mouth open and drooling. Doc very kindly leaned over and dabbed at our chin with a piece of gauze.

Okay, so now it's time to do the actual procedure. Doc says most times the procedure is done without novacaine but if it got too uncomforatable he would give me some. Mrs. H asked if he kept any wine on the premises and he politely laughed and reassured me (us) that novacaine worked just as well, if not better.

Two plastic rectangles are inserted at each end of our mouth to keep us from biting him I think.

I can see the dental instrument as it comes down past my eyes, my nose and then into my mouth. It was a deadly looking implement and Mrs. H. fainted once more.
The procedure is done in 'quadrants'. The upper sides, and the lower sides. It cost $255 per quadrant!! Tom will also faint.

I close my eyes and almost fall asleep. Dr. McD asks if I'm alright, do I need to rest, and after replying no, that I'm fine he continues his thing. After another half hour goes by, he wants to know how I'm doing, I reply 'good' and he says 'you're tough'. Damn straight.
I made it through the entire process without tears, no novacaine at all, and the Doc was impressed. Oh NOW Mrs. H decides to come out of her beauty sleep and wants to take all the credit.

I'm given ( I know I paid for it, but it sounds like it's a gift) a rota-dent ( mechanical rotating toothbrush) and a medicated oral rinse that I'm instructed to use twice a day making sure I hold the brush at a 90 degree angle so that the bristles can get up under the gumline. I think this might be uncomfortable, but I love it!!! My mouth and teeth have never felt so clean!!!! Even Mrs. H likes it, if it were up to her, we'd brush our teeth a minimum of ten times a day. By then we'd be down to little pegs for teeth, so I have to keep the brush locked up, just like the wine. Sssshhhhhh.

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