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I’m Excited About My Root Canal

carole

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I too am pleased that you are still here to tell your tales. I look forward to reading more about your sleep apnea :butterfly:
 
Steve In Cleveland

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Sleep Apnea!

I'm not a quiet sleeper. Friends, coworkers, and travel companions have told me for a long time that I snore like a bear. I've been known to wake up people in other rooms, entire campgrounds, etc. I'm not entirely sure how my wife has managed to sleep next to me for so long.

A recent trip to the emergency room (for some food caught in my throat) was the wakeup call to finally do something about it. While I was under light sedation for the procedure, my tongue collapsed on my airway and stopped my breathing, and they had to abort the procedure and shove a giant tube down my nose to get me breathing again. (The excited nurse showed me the "nasal trumpet" that he used to save my life; I'm really glad I was unconscious at the time.) While I was sleeping off the anesthetics, my whopping snores and gasps were a clear sign to the staff: I needed to get checked out for sleep apnea.

As it turns out, what happened during the procedure is what happens all night long when you have sleep apnea: your tongue relaxes, falls back and blocks your airway, and you stop breathing. At some point your brain jerks you out of sleep enough to move your tongue so you can gasp for breath, and then the cycle repeats.

I was actually sent home that day with a little computer and a bunch of wires, to do an at-home sleep study. You put a couple of elastic bands around your belly and chest, tape a couple of EKG leads to your torso, and put a little air tube in your nostrils, and go to sleep. You drop the whole thing in the mail the next day, and wait for a diagnosis.

I met with the sleep doctor a couple of weeks later, and looked at the printout of my sleep study. The page showed a plot of time across the page, with 9pm on the left edge, 7am on the right. Every time you stop breathing for ten seconds or more, you get a little tick on the page. The more ticks, the more severe the apnea. My page had a solid black line across the entire page. ("We had to change the toner in the printer," my doctor joked.) On average, I stopped breathing 108 times an hour-- basically I was suffocating every 30 seconds, all night long.

The loud snoring was the least of my problems. While I thought I was sleeping through the night, my body was basically in a constant battle to breathe. My oxygen levels dipped to a life-threatening 69% on a regular basis. My lungs and heart had to work harder, my blood didn't have enough oxygen to do its job, my brain wasn't getting any real sleep, ever. Probably for the past twenty years. Left untreated, sleep apnea takes *decades* off your life expectancy. Not getting any real sleep also saps your energy and mental state all day long, even if you think you feel fine.

The good news is, even with extremely severe apnea like mine, the treatment is simple. CPAP consists of a little machine and a small nose-mask that you wear at night, and it provides pressurized air to hold your airway open while you sleep. The first night I used one, my apneas went from 108 an hour to about 7 events all night! After a couple of weeks and a switch to a more comfortable mask, I'm sleeping through the night with effectively no apnea at all.

Yes, I'll have this machine with me for the rest of my life. No, the mask isn't exactly sexy. But, it put it on just before falling asleep, barely notice it, and I sleep deep, restful sleep. My wife reports no more snoring at all now, so she's sleeping better too. And, my heart and lungs will now last twenty years longer.

Oh, and here's the dental tie-in: before CPAP, I was grinding my teeth and waking up with all kinds of dental pain, from all the violent sleeping. Now, I sleep gently with my teeth slightly open and my mouth closed, and no dry mouth.

If you're a snorer or wake up sleepy all the time, get yourself checked out for sleep apnea! It's the best thing that's happened to me since, well, since finally fixing my teeth up.
 
carole

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Thank you I read this with interest, I was wondering how you had got on. I guess it's a case of 'All's well that ends well', thank goodness you got a bit of food stuck, it could have saved your life in the long run. It has most certainly given you a few more years. :jump::jump::jump::jump::jump::jump::jump::jump::jump:

Could I ask you, do you drive and if you do how does it effect your driving license ?
 
Steve In Cleveland

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Definitely! It's been a rough few months but I feel way better in lots of ways.

I do drive, though not professionally. My doctor's orders after I was diagnosed actually said not to drive until the condition was treated-- they're concerned about you falling asleep at the wheel. For me, I never felt very sleepy during the day except for that post-lunch lull; on road trips I always get/got really drowsy around 2pm, and I'd have my wife take a turn for an hour or so. So I kind of ignored that order.

I'm told that some people with a commercial driver license have to either test for sleep apnea or, if treated, have to prove compliance with CPAP. (In fact, because the machines can be expensive and many people stop using them before they adjust, the insurance company often wants this same proof. My machine has a cellular modem that transmits my data to my doctor regularly.) There are some truckers on the apnea forums who discuss it from time to time. I think it's a bit of a hassle but it can be done.

I'm not aware of any restrictions on non-commercial driver's licenses.
 
carole

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Thank you I did go to the nhs website after reading your thread and look up apnea and it seems here in the UK you do have to inform the DVLA that you have it as a legal requirement. Whether it is domestic or business driving and you are not suppose to drive until they have completed tests and got you on a stable treatment plan. Some drivers here cannot drive depending on the individual cases, it seems to be that everyone is dealt with individually.

The DVLA is the government body that issues driving licenses her in the UK. It is always to learn of the different ways different countries deal with things.

I am glad you are sorted out and you most certainly have had a lot to deal with, at least your dental fears have been addressed and treatment received. I do always enjoy reading your posts. They are very informative. :butterfly:
 
Steve In Cleveland

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Yikes! The good news is, CPAP therapy is somewhere over 99% effective, however complex or severe your apnea is. But, I think I might be a little reluctant to get tested if I thought my driver's license would get revoked.

It sounds like once your doctor signs off that you're on CPAP and doing well, it's pretty routine for them to extend driving privileges. But I'm not sure what happens between when you get diagnosed and when you get the "all clear."
 
carole

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Someone I know wasn't allowed to drive until they were stable. They said that was very painful indeed. :)

I am glad you are fine now, I just read a thread you started about your app tomorrow so Good luck :clover::clover::clover::clover::clover::clover::clover::clover::clover::clover: You know the reasonable side of your brain knows it will be fine but the dark side says it's time for the nerves to kick in.

You have a wonderful dentist and you have come so far, you know you will be fine. Shame it doesn't stop the worry :XXLhug::XXLhug::XXLhug:

I look forward to reading how you get on.
 
Steve In Cleveland

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I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Demille

It turns out to be really hard to take a flattering picture of your teeth up close. I suppose the lipstick models get a lot of touchups in Photoshop!

But, here's the finished chompers. #18 on the back right of the picture still has a big ugly amalgam filling from my youth-- I might choose to get that replaced or crowned some day to protect the rest of the tooth. Also the lower incisors are pretty crooked. My dentist says she can fix that up with Invisalign in a few months.

But really, I'm very happy with how they look and feel.

photo (14).JPG

Hooray for Dr. Friedman, she's my hero!!!
 
Steve In Cleveland

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Floss

Here's what you need to know about flossing:

  • When you start, it hurts a little. And your gums will probably bleed a little.
  • After a week or two, the bleeding stops. Forever.
  • After a month, you'll master the technique, and it will take about 30 seconds.

You already know the rest. You know you're supposed to floss. You know it's good for your teeth and gums and general health, so you don't need any more nagging. My purpose isn't to nag you. If you never ever floss, you'll still be a good person and you'll still actually be in the majority of people who don't floss. It's okay not to floss.

But if you want to, or you want to try, here's how.


  • Pick a time to floss every day. Make it a time when you're already brushing your teeth. I prefer just before bedtime, because I'm not rushed. In the morning I'm always tempted to skip because I'm running late, etc.
  • Use nylon floss like Glide. It's easier than cotton floss.
  • Start with one or two teeth. Seriously. Many of us have "problem spots" that we're worried about touching too much. And it takes some time to get good at flossing, and it's clumsy at first. So, floss between two teeth, and then stop. But do it every day.
  • Add a couple of teeth when you're ready. Eventually you'll get the hang of flossing that one tooth, and you'll think, "I already have this floss wrapped around my fingers, so..."
  • Keep doing it. If there's a tooth that hurts, or is too hard to get the floss into, just skip that. If you can't get your giant fingers into the very back of your tiny mouth, skip that. It's okay. Floss what you can, just to get the habit started.
  • This is important: keep the floss out on your vanity counter, or next to the toothbrush, or someplace very visible. The floss should nag you a little bit. That night when you're tired and just want to skip it, it should be sitting there next to your toothbrush going, "C'mon, it'll only take a few seconds."

When I told my dentist I was going to start flossing as a New Year's resolution, she said, "Just try to do once or twice a week." But for me, weekly habits are hard to remember. Monthly habits, like changing the furnace filter, are darn near impossible. So, I flossed every day, just not completely. I literally just did a couple of teeth at first. It probably took about as long to floss those first couple teeth as it now does to do my whole mouth-- about 30 seconds. If I'd tried to do my whole mouth, it would have taken 5-10 minutes and I'd have quit. Do what you can in 30 seconds, and then congratulate yourself.

Yes, it hurts a little at first. Yes, your gums will bleed a bit. That's another reason not to start with your whole mouth. A little bleeding from one tooth is gross; a little from various spots all over your mouth is scary. For me, almost from the first day, the bleeding tapered off rapidly. The first day I had a bright red spot that stuck around even after I brushed. The next day, a little less. The tooth with the weakest gums took about a week to stop, but most of the others just did that for two or three days, if at all.

After about a week, your gums start getting really strong and healthy. If you're seeing your dentist for something, tell them about your flossing-- they'll compliment you and praise you and tell you how much better your teeth look already. It's a good motivator.

After about a month, you start getting good at it. You'll know which teeth are a little tough to get between, and how much force to apply to get the floss in there without smacking it against your gums. You'll develop a pattern-- I always start at the top in the middle and work my way back, and then repeat on the bottom. If you have a full set of 28, there's 13 spaces to floss on the top, and 13 on the bottom. You'll get so you can do each in about a second. It won't hurt at all, even a little bit, and nothing will bleed or be sore. Every time you pull a little particle of food out, you'll feel better that you cleaned it out yourself with your new habit.

I've tried to start a flossing habit before, and it never took. My old dentist told me, "floss in your spare time... have some in the glove compartment, and floss while you're at the red light." But the thing is, when you start flossing, you'll HATE it. So you'll start driving slow when you see a red light so you never have to stop and floss. Or you'll think about flossing but not when the floss is nearby. And, if you do start, you'll give up too soon. So, do it every day at the same time in the same place, and just as much as you can do in a very short amount of time.

I've been flossing daily for five months now. My gums look and feel so much better, and when I got my teeth cleaned after two months of daily flossing-- my first cleaning in over a decade-- the hygienist told me my teeth actually looked pretty healthy. When they asked that dreaded question, "Do you floss?" I proudly said, YES! (Actually, the flossing was the part of the cleaning I was worried most about. I figured if I did it myself to "build up a tolerance", it would make the cleaning easier. And it did!)

It's just part of my bedtime routine now. I yank out a length of floss, start in the middle of my top teeth, plink plink plink plink. It doesn't hurt, it doesn't bleed, it isn't uncomfortable. (I do always manage to get a big line of drool snaking down the floss and onto my index finger when I do the back teeth-- it's not all lollipops and rainbows!) I don't carry floss around with me everywhere, although I do have some in my desk at work for when I get a bit of something "leftover" from lunch. (And, because I floss nightly, this search-and-rescue effort is much less trouble than it was when I used to try to pick a sesame seed out of inflamed gums before...)

So, if you want to try flossing, do it at your own pace-- and not because you feel guilty! Do it as an experiment, a favor to yourself. And if you get discouraged, don't beat yourself up. Back off, or keep brushing and try again in a few months. Brushing also strengthens your gums, so if they're too tender to floss today, they'll probably complain less in six months.

And of course, the ultimate goal of all of us phobics-- flossing on your own means less time in the dreaded Chair!

Good luck and happy teeth!! :grin::grin::grin:
 
Steve In Cleveland

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One of my dental heroes

A few years back, when the mention of a dentist still brought chills to my spine and sweat to my forehead, I came across an article by June Thomas called The Story of My Teeth.

I'd like to say this article inspired me to finally go see the dentist. It didn't. (That required, as expected, an actual raging toothache.) But I bookmarked the story, and visited it often for inspiration. I did this with the derring-do of a youngster approaching an allegedly haunted house. The logical part of me had to quiet the scared, emotional part of me, which was somehow convinced that merely looking at the article would lead to some kind of dental Spanish Inquisition. ("Nooooobody expects..." they'd bellow as they burst out of my closet.)

My "favorite part", which I'd read over and over again, was this description of June's dental hygiene:
I didn't even own a toothbrush—my parents had never brushed their teeth, and as adults their oral hygiene was achieved by soaking rather than brushing. I'd never even heard of dental floss, and I ate far too much candy. I prefer not to think about the excruciating pain that decay and resulting abscesses caused—pain that you can hear, that stops the world, that makes listening to the teacher or concentrating on homework impossible.
What amazed me was that someone could admit to such things... not only out loud, but actually in print, in a widely-read online journal! My dental condition was my biggest secret shame, and the fact that I hadn't brushed my teeth in decades was an even bigger secret. I avoided talking about my teeth at all costs, even in casual conversation. If a toothpaste commercial came on, I'd casually have to go check the mail. If I sensed a conversation going anywhere near dentistry or teeth, I'd deftly steer it away. ("You know what else rhymes with mental? Rental! Boy, I tell you, I have the craziest story about rental cars...")

And yet, here was someone copping to not even owning a toothbrush. And pain that stopped the world? Oh yeah, I had that, and had learned to suppress the wince and keep right on talking/eating/driving while lightening bolts lit up my jaw.

I dreamed of one day getting to the place where June Thomas was. "Even though I didn't have a glittering grin," she said, "my teeth were healthy. I could chew and-- most important-- I had no dental pain." Imagine that, I'd daydream. Imagine being able to smile and chew and talk about my teeth, and to not have pain! I dreamed about it like people dream about winning the lottery. I couldn't imagine the road from here to there, but I dreamed about being on the other side of all that work and being able to tell, without shame, the story of how my teeth used to be.

I'm there now, and instead of being ashamed of my teeth and afraid of dental topics, I'm extremely proud of my teeth, and I have to remember that not everyone wants to talk about root canal procedures in detail. And I don't have a glittering smile either, for the same reason as June-- doing the work a little at a time means you basically match the color of the next tooth, so there no dramatic change in color. But my teeth are AWESOME.

I always keep this story in mind when I see people posting here for the first time. I was never able to tell The Story of My Teeth until I was well on the way to fixing them. Even in my private journal. It takes a HUGE amount of courage to share your deep dark shameful secret. It's a horrible thing to have to carry all by yourself, and it keeps getting heavier. So I'm still inspired by every new post that starts "Sorry if I ramble on, but I have to get this out..." These people are my heroes, and to anyone out there who reading this but hasn't worked yet up the nerve to hit "+Post New Thread," just know that one day you will, and it will feel awesome.
 
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F

FearInOmaha

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Your story (and June's) really speaks to how resilient our teeth can be. I wish I had known that years ago. When I think of all the years (16) I avoided the dentist because I thought for sure they would tell me that I needed every tooth out. :shame: Then it turned out "all" I needed was a crown and some fillings replaced. All in all 25 years of fear and avoidance for no good reason. I don't mean the actually phobia, I imagine that's with me for life, but the fear of the initial diagnosis.

Thank you for sharing your story Steve. I think it's very inspirational and will help many people realize that there is a lot that can be done to restore teeth these days.
 
Steve In Cleveland

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Shut up, number 2!!!

I was done with all my dental work for the year (except for a six month cleaning), when #2 started getting sore again last Tuesday. #2 is supposed to be dead-- it had a root canal and crown a few months ago. But there it was, getting all sore to chew on. I left it alone and tried not to chew on it, but by Wednesday evening, it hurt so bad I was almost in tears, even when I wasn't touching it. I called and got an appointment for first thing Thursday.

Like a car at the mechanic's, by the time I got to the dentist, it was feeling fine. Of course, I'd taken some pretty powerful pain killers during the night, but it was almost like it hadn't happened. But I remembered the horrible pain, and thought about the three week vacation planned the next week (now the day after tomorrow!). So I went to the dentist, and she decided to redo the root canal. I was a little nervous, because I've never had a redo on a root canal, or had a crown drilled before.

Luckily, it went fine. The dentist drilled a little hole right through the crown, melted out the old gutta percha with the same tool used to set it, filed for a bit, and closed it all right back up. No pain or discomfort, and the whole thing took half an hour. Unfortunately, she couldn't find the cause of the pain. There were no new canals or cracks, and no sign of infection, although she did see the spot on my gum where a lump had flared up a couple of months back. So she packed it full of antibiotics and told me to come back in a week for the final.

Today I went in for the final final root canal (please, please). No pain since last week, and today went as fast and painless as last time, and the tooth/crown is once again good as new.

Here's hoping #2 is good and dead this time.

Oh, and vacation starts Saturday!!! I'm taking some prescription pain killers, and she prescribed me some antibiotics just in case, so if it does come back, I can keep it at bay. But I'd rather not.
 
I

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Hi Steve

I've just started reading your journal. Wow! I can relate to your experiences and mindset more than I thought could be possible. It is so encouraging to read about how you went from hoping for an accident needing major reconstruction (I've enjoyed that little fantasy myself) to being able to go to the dentist if anything at all troubles you. I wonder if I'll be able to get to that stage.

You have a real gift for writing, and a really witty turn of phrase that makes it very entertaining (if a little eye-watering at times) to read your journal. I'm very grateful to you for sharing your story - you probably won't ever know how much it is helping me to face my fears.

Thank you very, very much! :jump:
 
Steve In Cleveland

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Thanks for the kind words, irmemac. I can assure you that there is a way through all the anxiety and worry, and you can have a healthy smile. Finding a compassionate dentist is the first and most important part, in my opinion. I wish you luck on your journey, however you happen to progress on it. It can seem to take forever to get started but you're already on the way, and you'll get there in time.
 
chickenjen

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Thanks for the kind words, irmemac. I can assure you that there is a way through all the anxiety and worry, and you can have a healthy smile. Finding a compassionate dentist is the first and most important part, in my opinion. I wish you luck on your journey, however you happen to progress on it. It can seem to take forever to get started but you're already on the way, and you'll get there in time.
Amen!!! Well-said!!!!!
 
Steve In Cleveland

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It's not your fault.

When compassion came, I wasn’t prepared for it.

I was expecting scorn, or anger, or disappointment. So I almost turned compassion away. Instead I let it in, but it was years before I truly accepted it.


What compassion said was, “It’s not your fault.”

In my case, “it” was my neglected, rotting teeth. It had been almost a decade since I’d seen a dentist, and nearly as long since I’d brushed my teeth. I was deeply, incredibly ashamed. A few days before, a tooth had started throbbing, and I took the pain as not only a physical consequence of that neglect, but as a deserved moral punishment for my sins.

My first instinct was to fight compassion. Not my fault?! Who’s fault was it then? I knew I was supposed to brush my teeth and see the dentist twice a year. I had the money and insurance to do so. My arm wasn’t broken or paralyzed. There wasn’t some mad dictator forcing me not to brush my teeth, or hiding my toothbrush. I wasn’t missing some gene that should have kept my teeth gleaming through years of neglect. I knew how to take care of my teeth, and I just didn’t. Because I was a terrible person.

My second instinct was to grab the life preserver, and hang on. Maybe it wasn’t my fault. Maybe my teeth decayed faster than most. Maybe, as the dentist calmly explained, my pain receptors weren’t as active as other people’s, allowing me to ignore the early warning signals that should have driven me to the dentist much sooner. Perhaps there were other physiological factors at play. His white coat and professional demeanor were pretty convincing.

Silently, I let these two arguments fight it out in my head. They reached a kind of détente that lasted several years: I knew that it was all my fault, but I pretended it wasn’t. It didn’t destroy the shame gremlins, but it kept them at bay.

What I realize now is that the dentist was a master of compassion. My current dentist is, too. It still catches me off guard. I swear, there have been times when I went to the dentist not only expecting to be shamed, but wanting to be. It’s a terrible place to be, but it’s familiar. There’s only one conversation, and it’s easy to learn:

Me: I’m a horrible person.
Anyone else: Yes, you are.

(In the early years, the order is reversed. Anyone else: You’re a horrible person. Me: Yes, I am. But pretty soon, you learn to lead.)

My dentist refused to play along. He deviated from the script. He said, “It’s not your fault.” He quoted scientific studies. He talked about neurons and pain receptors. For all I know, he made half of it up. But he insisted it wasn’t my fault. He wasn’t interested in fault or blame or shame. He wanted to help me. (To be honest, I was actually a little mad at him for challenging my right to be a horrible, terrible person. It's a really hard pattern to let go of.)

One of the reasons I post and respond to the Dental Fear Central forums is that I want to pass this gift on to every person who suffers under the weight of dental phobia: It’s not your fault. You need to hear that. You deserve to hear that. And it’s absolutely, 100% true. You won’t say it to yourself, I know. So I’ll say it to you. It’s not your fault. And you deserve a compassionate dentist who says it to you, too. You don’t have to believe it. But at least try to pretend to believe it. It’s not your fault.

There are many components to dental phobia, but I see and respond to the shame component most acutely, because it was such a huge hurdle for me. I’ve read more than one post that said, “I think I can deal with the pain, but I’m so afraid of what the dentist will think of me.” Right? Because you’re a horrible person, and the dentist will say, “Yes, you are.” It’s so predictable, you can play it out in your head in hundreds of variations.

Please, please, find a dentist who won’t play along. Find a dentist who says, “It’s not your fault.” And then listen to him or her. Pretend to believe. Let him help you. The medical community has a shorthand for this. “What do patients want? 1. Don’t hurt me. 2. Heal me. 3. Be nice to me.” I’d argue that the third one is the most important. There are dentists out there who don’t follow this creed. They are rare, and they should be avoided. But the vast majority live it, and practice it. They want to help you, not shame you.

So, is it your fault? Who cares! Let go of it. It’s really hard to do that, I know. I’m still fighting it, in other areas of my life. (Last week my mechanic told me that the noise under the hood was the result of my being a few thousand miles late on my oil change, causing the engine to run out of oil. My first thought was, “I’m a horrible, car-destroying person who doesn’t deserve to drive.”) But I’ve counseled enough people here to tell you that there are patterns, and it’s not your fault.

It’s not our fault. The cards were stacked against us. Our parents didn’t teach us good dental hygiene, or they let us take control of our own dental appointments way too early. Our earlier dentists were cruel or insensitive, and no one told us that these people were not healers, that we should demand and expect compassion from our caregivers. Our brains absorbed all the media messages about painful, sadistic dentistry, and our chemistry let these fester in our heads and keep us from getting gentle care. Yes, we should have brushed more, seen our dentist sooner, etc. But that doesn’t mean we deserve pain and punishment.


Be kind to yourself, and find someone else who can be kind to you while they heal you.

It’s not your fault.

(p.s.
I’m not completely sure, but I suspect that this lesson might apply to other areas of life, too. ;) )

 
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Steve In Cleveland

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Routine cleaning was routine!

I just got back from my six month checkup. I hopped right into the chair, made small talk with the hygienist, and she treated me just like a normal person who goes to the dentist twice a year for routine cleanings.

Because I am a normal person who goes for cleanings twice a year!! The cleaning took about fifteen minutes, was a little uncomfortable (and very wet!), and then she gave me a "goodie bag" and said it all looked good! I wanted to be praised for having lovely teeth and gums, and for flossing every day, but I guess no cavities and a quick cleaning are reward enough.

I'm determined to stay on the good path and keep up with my routine maintenance, so I don't get stuck in this cycle again. So, sixteen months now of regular, twice daily, two minute tooth brushing with my fancy electric toothbrush, and seven months of daily flossing. And, I made my next six-month appointment on the way out of today's appointment. I feel like they should give out little coins or tokens like they do at Alcoholic's Anonymous. This might be the first time I've had two consecutive cleanings, both with no cavities.... ever!

On a slightly annoying note, the crown on #2 broke again. That's twice since they had to drill through it for the re-rootcanal a couple of months ago. I think it just got to be like a road with two many pothole repairs. My dentist says it was weakened from having been drilled open for the re-rootcanal. So, today she took the whole crown off and re-prepped the tooth for a brand new crown, this one out of a much stronger material.

I'm glad to be getting the new crown, but it kind of delayed my dream of being able to be in and out of the office in less than half an hour. Instead, it was an extra hour in the dentist's chair to prep the tooth, before my routine cleaning. Hopefully, this time, I can go a full six month's before seeing the dentist again!
 
Steve In Cleveland

Steve In Cleveland

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Apr 10, 2012
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565
Location
Cleveland, OH (USA)
Constant compassion

Here's what makes my dentist awesome.

I've lost count of how many times I've been to the dentist in the past 16 months; I'd guess it's somewhere around 25. So I'm pretty comfortable going in now, particularly for small adjustments.

Last week I went in to get a new crown fit onto a tooth, because the old one kept breaking. Getting a crown placed on a root canalled tooth is super easy, because the tooth itself is dead so there's no sensation at all. It's basically just like popping off the temporary and cementing a new cap on. You don't need to be numbed up, and there's nothing even approaching discomfort.

And I'm a pretty cool customer these days, after so much work. It's not an act-- I've really got a ton of trust in my dentist, and I know which procedures are easy, so there's no fear of the unknown. I still get nervous for some things, but this procedure is about as scary as an oil change.

But here's how my dentist, who I've seen almost every other week for over a year, treated me:

  • She asked me if I was okay and if I had any concerns.
  • She reclined the chair in really gentle increments, and each time asked for permission. (I'm not terrified of being horizontal, but I don't like it. I haven't mentioned it for over a year, but she keeps notes and she remembers.)
  • She asked me if I wanted to be numbed up for this. She knows it's not something I need to be numbed up for, and she knows I know that too. But she asked, sincerely.
  • When I told her to go ahead, she said, "Make sure you let me know if you want me to stop or numb you for any reason. It's no big deal."
  • She told me, in a calm voice, each thing she was doing. I think I've had crowns set about twelve times this year-- I can describe every step, and name most of the tools and chemicals. But she told me, anyway.
  • When she was done she told me I'd done a great job, and said to call if I had any problems or needed any adjustment at all to the bite.

This is how she treats a patient who is completely calm and at ease. Partly because she knows I'm still really a recovering phobic. Partly because she knows that people often mask anxiety with stoicism. And partly because she probably treats everyone as if they're a little terrified, and because even non-phobics probably like a calm voice and reminders that they are in control. Have I mentioned that my dentist also has degrees in psychology?

When I read stories of dentists who are harsh, brusque, or unsympathetic, it makes me really angry. It doesn't cost anything to be kind and gentle, and it costs very little to go slowly and keep good notes on what makes each patient comfortable. But the difference it makes is huge. My dentist doesn't just react to fear; she anticipates it and tries to avert it. And this makes it SO much easier for me as a patient to trust her, even for procedures that aren't routine. (I'm currently saving up money and courage for an implant in the spring. After this fitting she sat with me for 15 minutes and showed me how the whole thing would work, and what it would feel like.)

I'm so grateful for kind, gentle, compassionate dentists!
 
coolin

coolin

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Sep 6, 2010
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Scotland
Forumdental - your posts are really not helpful:hmm:.....and I am finding your name confusing - people new to this site might think that you are more than just a user of the forum..I think you need to change your user name.
Send a post to one of the moderators.
Thanks
Coolin
 
carole

carole

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Jan 5, 2012
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UK
I agree with coolin 100%

I can't make out if you are a dentist or not. Phobia of the dentist is like any other phobia, in that it has no rhyme or reason.

A lot of us have had bad experiences and that is why we find it hard to feel comfortable at the dentist until we find a really good and caring dentist, and realise that things are very different these days.

A dentist that understands that there are reasons for feeling nervous, understands this and does their best to help us get the treatment we need, we know they are not there to harm us but we don't understand the subject the same as a dentist does.

It is a very vulnerable position to be in sat in the dental chair and takes a lot of courage for many of us to be able to do it.

I think you could maybe phrase your advice in a more gentle way, I don't know if you realise but you sound very impatient and abrupt. :butterfly:
 
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