My Dental Chronicle: The Final Chapter

Pianimo

Pianimo

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Hello you. :friends: Just wanted to stop by and say sorry I wasn't around for your last appointment. I was thinking of you that day and I did read your report, but everything's just been crazy so I've not been posting at all. I'm really sorry that you had another bad experience. It's given me a new thing to be worried about for my appointment now!!! :rolleyes: :scared: But mostly I'm just really sad that things didn't go well for you. :( I hope the discomfort didn't last too long after your appointment and that everything's been fine since. :hug4:
 
kitkat

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Thanks Pianimo!:XXLhug:
Sorry to hear things have been crazy lately. I've been a bit distracted and having trouble keeping up with posts too lately. To be honest, the tooth has been extremely sensitive to cold ever since but I've just been trying to ignore it in hopes it will go away. I'm just not up for any poking or prodding at it right now plus I have experienced sensitivity for up to a month with fillings in the past so I'm giving it time to settle. I'm sorry my post has caused more stress and worry for you. I hope your appointment goes better than mine and that things calm down. Thinking of you! :)
 
kitkat

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I had such a good experience at the dentist today that I needed to write it down not only to hopefully encourage others but also to later encoage myself because I am long overdue for a good experience following a series of difficult visits. This visit was only a cleaning but there are no small victories in my opinion. So during my last visit, my dentist noted some breakdown on my bottom front teeth that I have been worrying about ever since and lately have been able to feel a more pronounced groove around the gumline when I ran my tongue along the back of my bottom front teeth that is slowly growing more sensitive. So when the hygienist (who was new to me but super nice) asked me if anything in my mouth was bothering me, I reluctantly brought up that spot. She looked at it and took xrays and then started with the cleaning but only after having some small talk and ensuring i felt comfortable with reclining the chair. I felt extremely comfortable with this particular hygienist, she was older with a calm demeanor and really took her time with a gentle touch. She was reassuring in a motherly way and checked in periodically to make sure I still felt comfortable. I was particularly impressed that when she got to the spot I was worried about she gently went over the area and stopped to ask if anything hurt before continuing.

After a few long moments, the dentist came in to do the exam and scaling. She immediately started asking about the problem area and poking at it (but not painfully). She said the area was an enamel defect (not a cavity) and that she could "buff it out." Not really understanding what that meant, I nervously agreed to it while the assistant fetched the appropriate tools. She did the scaling while waiting for the "buffer" and paused shortly after starting to make sure I was not experiencing any discomfort and I gave her permission to continue. She started with scaling the bottom teeth and she must have been able to tell that I was growing nervous as she approached the front teeth because she actually made a point of saying "I am going to jump over this sensitive area because I don't want to hurt you." At that point, I decided I trusted her with "buffing" the tooth. She finished scaling and began buffing the tooth. Unlike her usually explaining things in advance or assuring me in advance that I can stop her, she just got right to it which caught me a bit off guard but about half way through she stopped anyway just to make sure she wasn't hurting me (which she wasn't). She is watching 2 teeth 1 of which she thinks will need to be filled by the next appointment but I feel like i was really on the same wavelength with her for the first time in a long time. I never felt a sense of panic or lack of trust and the communication was pretty much on point! I'm hoping this is a step forward for us and the start of a new trend because after a few rough visits I was losing faith and considering changing dentists. I don't know how much the new hygenist/assistant made a difference but if that's the case, she needs to stick around! :jump:
 
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kitkat

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It's been awhile since I've paid my journal a visit. Life got real busy and things quieted down with the dental work so I took a break from the forum but I am glad to be back although I am still getting some things sorted out with my old account that I've managed to lock myself out of! :rolleyes:

Anyways...UPDATE: I just had my first root canal! :o I had a tooth with an awkward filling in it that I've broken many times and the tooth finally just couldn't withstand any more abuse/trauma. I was referred out to an endodontist for the procedure which worried me because I've had the same general dentist for 13 years and couldn't imagine letting anyone else work on my teeth. To make matters worse, she recommended a specific dentist in the office (they have several) and that person wasn't available when I called to schedule so I had to see somebody else! :scared: Fortunately, the office and endodontist were actually quite lovely. The office seems to somewhat cater to nervous patients and they make an effort to make you feel comfortable. They play spa-like music, the office is very modern and feels less clinical, very supportive dental assistants, very kind/calming endodontist, and they gave me virtual reality glasses with earbuds to watch a movie during the procedure. I wasn't sure how well I would do with distraction because I typically like to feel in control during a procedure and know what's going on at all times but once I was certain I was numb, it was actually very nice! It took a little encouragement from the endodontist and assistant to relax and not pay attention to what they were doing but after about 20 minutes I settled in and let my nerves go. The root canal went much better than I expected...it was long but not really stressful...mostly boring...and hard on my jaw keeping my mouth open for so long. The injections sucked a lot...that was probably the worst part. I am very proud of myself for surviving and not panicking! :jump:

The RCT was done March 15th...fast forward to last Thursday (4/13). I went back to my general dentist for the crown prep and temp crown. I was super nervous about the crown prep ...maybe moreso than I was for the RCT. Not sure why...just wasn't really sure what to expect. Drawing on inspiration from the virtual reality glasses provided during the RCT, I opted to bring music to play through earbuds on my phone for this visit which literally dropped my anxiety from an 8 to a 2. The power of distraction is AMAZING and I wish I had used it years before now! Crown prep also went well...no panic/stress once we got going. It helped my dentist and assistant were in a light/laid back mood talking and laughing the whole time. First time, aside from the RCT I haven't been super concerned about what's happening in my mouth every second of the appointment. The assistant banged her head on the overhead light during my impressions and I actually had to stop myself from laughing at her :giggle:. I had gotten myself worked up about the impressions thinking they would be a full upper tray (I am a horrible gagger) but turns out it was only half the upper (just the one side) which is similar to biting on a bitewing xray so I got myself freaked out for nothing! :redface: So aside from that appointment also being quite long and the injections a tad more painful again (but less than for the RCT) I would say it was another very successful appointment for me.

Not sure why the injections hurt more :confused:...are injections different for RCT/crown prep than for fillings? These were definitely uncomfortable and I was warned by the endo they would be uncomfortable but I didn't know any better and did not take him seriously so I was completely caught off guard! My dentist who (90% of the time gives completely painless injections) also warned me it would be uncomfortable and I learned my lesson and braced myself the second time around but that leads me to believe that these injections must be different from the average injection because normally she's pretty confident she won't hurt me with her injections and most of the time I even opt out of using the topical anesthetic because I don't feel like it's necessary.
 
kitkat

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I just need to reflect on my latest appointment.

I had a filling yesterday and I was extremely nervous for no good reason (I almost threw up in the parking lot :redface:). I don’t know what brought on the heightened anxiety except that it’s been awhile since my last filling and I just had way too much time on my hands to think about it. I told myself I would be honest and forthcoming about my fear and tell my dentist that I am scared (since I’ve only known the woman for 15 years) but I could not bring myself to say it out loud because that’s not my style! Luckily, I didn’t need to say anything because she could tell that I was terrified within the first couple minutes of trying to converse with me. I was answering her questions in short 1-word responses, my voice kept getting all high and squeaky and even cracked once, and I was avoiding eye contact so much that I didn’t realize that I was completely turning away from her until she asked me to turn towards her :redface:. I was so impressed with her. After just a few moments she knew just what to do and say to snap me out of it. She asked me a ridiculous, silly question “So...did you get a puppy for Christmas?!” To make me laugh and get me talking to her. That lead into a conversation about the two dogs I already have and by the time she had the injection prepared, I was almost back to my normal calmer self. Then she just kept talking to me and the assistant to distract me which has always helped me.

She reinforced that I was in control by reminding me that I could stop her at anytime. I did end up having to stop her once because I wasn’t completely numb (probably because I had so much adrenaline in my body to counteract it). She immediately stopped, gave me more local, waited and asked me for permission to proceed. After, starting again I was fully numb and pretty much relaxed for the remainder of the appointment. She warned me about sensations such as pressure which she used to do in the early days with me but hasn’t done in ages (I guess she sensed that I needed that-and I did). She also spent a long time adjusting my bite which has been off ever since my root canal and I think she fixed it as it now feels better than ever before! I cannot say how incredibly thankful I am for this woman. She just intuitively knew what I needed and things went so smoothly because of that. I have been through some ups and downs with her in the past but she really pulled through on this appointment. I’m just feeling really grateful. :cloud9:
 
kitkat

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I have my 6 month recall cleaning/check up this Friday on the 31st. I haven’t been since January. I have a harder time with appointments when they are spread far apart. I don’t feel anxious or nervous at all about it and I’m honestly extremely busy with other things at the moment so I don’t really have time to be nervous but I do find myself still thinking about it a lot and just thinking about past appointments. My anxiety is probably a 1.5/10 right now. For cleanings, it rarely goes beyond a 4/10 and that’s usually in the waiting room or parking lot. We will see how I feel as the time gets closer.
 
kitkat

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Appointment is tomorrow afternoon. I got the confirmation call from the office. I have no nerves at all. Current Anxiety Level: 0/10 but I’ve been insanely busy and just do not have much time to dwell on it.
 
kitkat

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Well the office called a little while ago saying they had a major equipment malfunction and need to cancel my appointment for today. I will have to call them back to reschedule for another time. It actually works out because I had other matters to tend to and was worried about getting there on time.
 
kitkat

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New appointment is set for Tuesday the 25th at 4pm. Trying this again...it’s kind of funny though; when I called the office to reschedule, the dentist herself answered (it always catches me off guard when she does that!). I told her I needed to reschedule because the previous appointment had been cancelled. She quickly gave me a new date/time and was going to hang up when I said “Wait! Don’t you need my name?!” She said “Nope! I’ve got caller ID!”. She also didn’t ask me what the appointment was for so I guess I’m quite memorable! I don’t really know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing! :p Lol
 
kitkat

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So of course 2 days before my appointment, I did something really stupid this morning while I was half awake trying to brush my teeth. I somehow slipped with the electric tooth brush and like hit/scraped the very back of my mouth...behind the back tooth and now it’s been hurting all day. I don’t even know how I did that; that’s never happened before but I’m really hoping it’s better before Tuesday because I don’t want to have to try to explain it!
 
kitkat

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Appointment is in less than 2 hours. I’ve felt a little gaggy/nauseous all day. This happens whenever I haven’t had an appointment in 6 months or more and have too much time to think about it. I’ve been off work for the last 2 days relaxing so that hasn’t helped my case. Anxiety is about 4.5 out of 10 right now. I will report back later.
 
kitkat

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The appointment went fine. The AC wasn’t working too well so it was very warm In the office. No X-rays this time but they said that I will be due for a full mouth series at my next appointment (ugh!). I had no cavities so no appointments for another 6 months! Yay!!!!

My dentist doesn’t really have hygienists, she does all of the scaling herself with an exam at the same time and then she has assistants who can polish the teeth and take x-rays. I got a new girl today who was definitely still learning and had a rough time with setting up. She was struggling with operating the chair to get it in the best position and was just all around a little awkward getting started. I offered to assist with suction and she gladly accepted my help. She was extremely nice and friendly/talkative as well as super concerned with my comfort level so I actually liked her a lot. She put me at ease despite her obvious lack of experience. She actually did a really great job with the polishing. The dentist came in after polishing with the more experienced assistant to do the scaling/exam and the new girl went on to work with someone else.

The more experienced assistant came in and we talked for a bit while waiting for the dentist to come in (I know this assistant really well) so I was pretty relaxed by the time the dentist walked in. She gave me her usual speech to let her know if I had any discomfort before using the ultrasonic scaler. The scaling started out pretty gentle and comfortable but she warned me that I had some tarter on my front lower teeth and then she got a little more heavy-handed. The scaling took awhile and was mildly uncomfortable but not enough to need to stop her. She seemed a little more thorough than usual with the scaling but I was able to stay fairly relaxed throughout. No discomfort at all during the exam and she was pretty quick with that but I think she was assessing as she was scaling. No manual scaling which I was VERY thankful for! My next appointment is scheduled for January. She told me that I had really good oral hygiene just to focus more on the front bottom teeth when brushing.
 
krlovesherkids777

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Congrats on a good appt Kitkat!! sounds like you were a trooper with the scaling and it being a little uncomfortable. They do seem like quite a nice and friendly team :)...
 
kitkat

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Thank you! They are pretty informal/casual and good at small talk which helps me feel at ease. They are just a small privately owned office and I like that intimacy. I feel like being such a veteran with the office, I’m on a different level with them...they really watched me grow up having been a patient there since the age of 15 (I’m 31 now!). Today there was this total sense of trust and ease with them once I was there. I didn’t feel like I needed much in reassurance or distraction or hand holding. I started laughing during the exam because the assistant wacked her funny bone on something (she’s a bit clumsy-so it’s very typical of her) and the dentist was trying to act concerned and not laugh at her. After being so anxious at my last appointment, it was a nice contrast.
 
kitkat

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I just feel like rambling...

Something that I’ve noticed throughout my journey is that I used to remember appointments very vividly. My first year or two worth of appointments with my current dentist are deeply ingrained in my memory but I find that after that, my recall of past appointments has become more and more fleeting. I can still remember almost every minute of the first few fillings that I had (15ish years ago) but a crown I had just a couple years ago and even a filling I had just a few months ago, I can hardly remember at all. I find that really interesting. I know there is a relationship between stress/adrenaline and memory so I suppose that has a lot to do with it. I also used to be very “involved” in the appointments in the sense that I wanted my dentist to tell me what was happening next at all times whereas now, I tend to put on my earbuds and zone out to music so maybe I’m just not catching every detail. I don’t think I ever gave the power of distraction the credit it truly deserved prior to trying it with a root canal and I was even quite skeptical about it before that. However, I also think that I had to work through a lot of trust/control issues before that would have ever been a benefit to me. I think there is a bit of a hierarchy when it comes to addressing dental phobia and what methods will be most effective.
 
Enarete

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We tend to remember things that are unusual, new or interesting more vividly as we are more present and perceptive. When having high anxiety, you are in a mode where every single detail that is happening can mean a threat so you are very attentive (unless you get panicky to a point of dissociating where things get blurry) It only makes sense that you remember the initial appointments more or the appointments you were more stressed. Also, it is natural for memories to fade and being replaced by things that are more relevant, unless there is still a sense of distress connected to it, which is why people often remember their bad dental experiences from thirty, forty years ago. I remember you mentioned your dentists saying something like "if you don't remember it then it was a good experience" and I think this is it. And we forget bad experiences too once we made peace with them and moved on. I know all my bad experiences from the past are very blury and I don't care much, while just few years ago as I was at the beginning of the journey they felt very relevant and vivid.
 
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kitkat

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We tend to remember things that are unusual, new or interesting more vividly as we are more present and perceptive. When having high anxiety, you are in a mode where every single detail that is happening can mean a thread so you are very attentive (unless you get panicky to a point of dissociating where things get blurry) It only makes sense that you remember the initial appointments more or the appointments you were more stressed.
My degree of attention is vastly different now than it was initially. I used to be in a state of fight or flight (I think almost the whole time) to the point of having easy startle responses to just about anything (air, water, pressure, sound) that I wasn’t warned about first. My body perceived every sensation as a threat if I wasn’t primed for it in advance and I would jump. I remember my heart pounding out of my chest for at least the first half of appointments and I would watch my dentist very closely for when she was changing tools and whatnot. Over time, the more commentary she gave me, the more I began to trust her and relax. Now I feel like, if something challenging comes up, I know that she will let me know about it beforehand otherwise, I don’t need to worry about it but it took a long time to desensitize me with constant running commentary mixed with a little tell-show-do.

Also, it is natural for memories to fade and being replaced by things that are more relevant, unless there is still a sense of distress connected to it, which is why people often remember their bad dental experiences from thirty, forty years ago. I remember you mentioned your dentists saying something like "if you don't remember it then it was a good experience" and I think this is it. And we forget bad experiences too once we made peace with them and moved on. I know all my bad experiences from the past are very blury and I don't care much, while just few years ago as I was at the beginning of the journey they felt very relevant and vivid.
Yes my dentist actually did say that if I “don’t remember it, then it was a positive experience.” I hadn’t thought about it that way because I consider those early experiences with her very positive. I forgot to account for the fact that I was still very stressed at the time.
 
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