Dental Freak-out (2): Friends and Toothsavers

A fair lady’s smile is worth more than a thousand ounces of gold. Chinese proverb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Friday of my dental follow-up arrived (see Dental Freak-out) in which I was scheduled for likely extraction and implant.  I had steeled myself for tooth demolition and construction work.  I left a meeting early to make sure I was on time.  On my way, I ran into a friend, and told her where I was headed.

“Are you crazy?  Pulling a tooth — they shouldn’t need to do that.  They can save almost any tooth these days.  What kind of dentist is this?  Have you been to an endodontist?”

I didn’t know what an endodontist was.  My dentist’s specialty was cosmetic:  read, implants.  Endodontists specialize in root canals.  My friend used to work as a dental hygienist and is very knowledgeable about dentistry.   And I just happened to run into her now… Hello, God?

Her take: “You don’t want an implant.  That’s a foreign body inside your body, permanently.  Unless you absolutely have too. You need a second opinion.”

“But my appointment is in 15 minutes!”

“Don’t go,” she advised.

While I stressed, called my husband and fretted, she made a few calls and got me the name of a good endodontist.

I cancelled the appointment when I was already five minutes late.  They were not happy.

The endodontist looked at my teeth.  “I can see why the other dentist was worried.  That tooth is dead.  But you don’t want an implant back there — it’s the back molar, and too close to the sinuses and the brain.  Anyway, I can do a root canal right now.  Have you out of here in about 30 minutes.”

And, after a relatively painless procedure (how amazing is that?), it was done.  Whew.  What a relief.  Much cheaper too.

The endodontist has now referred me to a good general dentist.  Much more work is yet to be done. Ugh.  But at least I’m in good hands now.

Thank you God.  You sent me my friend in my time of need.  Thank you, thank you!  Help me to be a friend to others in your name.  And please stay with me through all this horrible dental work. I’m still scared.  Amen.


Dental Freak-out

Common Dental Numbering. Diagram from Open Dental.

I’ve been resolving to go to the dentist for quite a while now.  I really hate going to the dentist.  It’s not quite a phobia, but it could certainly be called an aversion.  And I’ve never had a cavity.  Never.  I brush, I floss (sometimes), so I figured, I’m fine.

Then after Christmas, the toothache started.  January 2, I am at the dentist.  My mouth is a mess.  I need, virtually immediately, a root canal or an extraction.  He can’t tell because of my impacted wisdom teeth.  Let’s not talk about the gum issue.  This is to a woman who never had a cavity, never had novacaine (a shot in my mouth?  are you kidding me?), no major dental work.   And the cost — don’t get me started.  I had as much trouble breathing as chewing.

So on the way home, I am upset.  I rant to myself, and to God — who else would listen? How could you let this happen God?  Why me?  I know saints talk about the value of suffering, but this?  Really?  Even Jesus didn’t have to have dental work (yes, for a split second, I did think this.)

Then, the whole ‘nailed-to-a-cross’ scene did pop into my head.

Ok, ok. Maybe Jesus did suffer more than me.  And maybe this isn’t God’s fault.  (Could be mine, maybe.)  Sigh.

Now what?  God loves me.  Yeah, I know that.  But my tooth still hurts like hell.  (Ok, maybe not Hell exactly, but, man it’s painful!)  What now God?  How you gonna help me?
Very spiritual.  That’s how well I took it, even with my Year of Faith journey well on the way.  Sigh.

Medieval dentist removing tooth

Medieval dentist removing tooth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I cried to my husband about how terrible this is.  He assured me that lots of other people have gone through this, and that I would be fine.  And that in fact, the cost wasn’t as much as his dentist charged.

I talked to my dad, who was planning to visit.  (Otherwise, we could go for a week or two without talking.)  Turns out he had a sudden problem with his vision in one eye  —  just woke up, and with a sharp pain, serious blurriness set in.  He couldn’t read.  He couldn’t drive.  He couldn’t come to visit.

Yet, he teased me about my tooth.  And told me it wasn’t that bad.

Hmm, lost tooth vs. lost vision.

Worried about my dad, I wanted to make sure my brother knew.  My brother is the guy with ‘genetically superior’ teeth — his dentist actually told him that.  I was reluctant to call, because I knew I would have to report my dental issue.  I’ve spent years sharing his tooth pride.  We tell friends “Nope, no cavities, ever. No dental work. Not me.”   Now I am a sister with tooth decay.

As it happened, he had already talked to dad, who had broken my news as well as his own.  While I fretted about a shattered tooth fairy image, he laughed my issue off with “what’s with the tooth?”  I was still his beloved sister, and that was the end of that.  (And thankfully, my dad’s vision returned to normal within 24 hours.)

I realized I wasn’t only frightened about what was happening but I was embarrassed.  Not just my tooth, but my pride was hurting.  Once the important people in my life knew, and were very supportive, I didn’t feel so anxious.

Thank you God, for sending me support so quickly through my family on my day of need (aka the dental freak-out).  So many people have bigger, more important problems. (But, if you can manage it again, please help me when I go back to the dentist.)  Thank you for being with me and letting me rant.  And not punishing me for whining.  I am sorry for my truly selfish thoughts and my pride (in my teeth — how weird is that?).  Thank you also for helping my dad.

Aside from my obvious resolution to go to the dentist more often (which is not optional anyway), I resolve to remember that you are with me through everything God, even the tough times.  I will try not to blame you.  Please help me to remain in you and you to remain in me, despite my very weak human will.

And boy, I pray that you have a sense of humor, God, so that we can laugh at this together some day.  After my last dental visit…