*Trigger Warning for dental descriptions, including what I feel was abusive*
I went to a new dentist this afternoon. I was nervous. I have had some very bad and very traumatic experiences at the dentist and once with a periodontist. Not in the “oh no, needles and drills, so scary” sort of way, but of actual brutality, outright rip offs and denial of my request in the name of profit. Yep, I’m that gal.
At age 14 I had what was supposed to be a root canal. The insurance paid for a root canal, but it ended up being just a very fancy fucking filling. With 3D imaging and all…and this was 1992, y’all! Then I was the one who actually said no to the prettier porcelain crown for a back molar because my dad’s insurance wouldn’t cover it. I was 16 or 17 and that dentist insisted, “But you have such pretty teeth. No we will just wait until you can afford a porcelain one.” That same tooth, yep same as the non-root canal one, had to be extracted 7 years later and it is now an empty gap in my tooth line.
Most recently I had to go to a periodontist for a gum lengthening surgery. They basically cut away your gum line so that a crown may be placed more securely once healed from the surgery. Only this bastard fucked me up! I mean for real…my face looked like I’d been in a barroom brawl. Worse still, he fucking joked about being so rough with me. Didn’t bother to introduce himself, just went right to work and bruised my arm, too, from holding it down too firmly. When he was done he admitted to being extra hard on me, no reason was given. I felt fucking brutalized. I was shaking and crying by the time I handed over my credit card to pay for this abuser’s “talents.” The receptionist was a total bitch about it, too. I had to sit in my car for twenty minutes before I could see well enough to drive, I was loudly sobbing. I drove home and waited for the Novocaine to wear off. I later told my dentist what this periodontist had done, how I felt and his joke about being rough on me. He was very apologetic, said he’d never refer anyone to him again and that he’d call him. I got a half-assed, half-joking apology from the periodontist on my voice mail. I couldn’t bear the thought of returning to his grips so I asked my dentist if I could have him take out my stitches, but there was no need, they came out on their own.
Now I’ve been with my last dentist for about ten years or so. He’s always been so gentle and explains things in a way that I understand. He’s the first dentist that didn’t leave me in horrible pain and bleeding from a cleaning. No, this dentist is awesome as hell. I was majorly bummed when he took a two year medical leave, but was grateful and thankful that his health improved and he returned to his practice. I have never even felt the Novocaine shot, not once. He does this rad cheek jiggle thing and I feel nothing. He’s done so much work on my teeth, too. So for me to even consider another dentist is a serious thing. And so I was procrastinating making an appointment at my husband’s new dentist.
My husband, thank the stars for him, he’s very careful and concerned about chemicals and technologies and things. He found a holistic dentist near us and without so much as a google search, he made an appointment. This dentist uses digital x-rays to reduce radiation exposure. She’s very big on replacing old, metal fillings. I found out today that they shrink and can break and chip your teeth as a result. Anyway, he went and liked the dentist and her assistant and receptionist and said I’d be comfortable there, too. He said his cleaning was “spa-like.” That didn’t seem possible to me, but I was hopeful and so I made my appointment finally and had an exam and cleaning today.
What can I say? She was thorough, took lots of x-rays and went over everything with me. She recommended a “treatment plan” for like two years or something. I found this unusual, but cool. When she asked about any concerns I may have I told her my periodontist story. As I was telling the story and showed her where the bruises were I saw her shudder in horror. I started to tear up, too. I hadn’t told the story in so long. Somehow retelling it was like reliving it again. Classic trauma. She examined the other molar that I would need a crown on and she agreed that I needed the gum lengthening surgery but that she knows of a periodontist locally that has incredible credentials and that she herself has had that same surgery from. I was relieved to hear that she’d had the same surgery from this periodontist with no problems. Then she said, “Plus, you know, she’s a lady so perhaps she’s just more gentle or aware. It’s never a fun surgery, but I didn’t have much pain.” I thanked her for the testimonial. She was shocked at my story and said she’d never heard anything like it before. I was sad to tell her that I didn’t know the fucker’s name but that he was local and just up the street from her office.
And so it begins. A new chapter in my dental history. I am sore/raw from having my teeth cleaned. More so than I would be with my old dentist. But I was able to eat lunch after without too much discomfort or pain. I go in on Monday for a cavity to be filled. I’m nervous. That shot of Novacaine will be the real test for me. If I feel it or something isn’t right, I know I won’t go back. I’ll keep her referral for her periodontist, but I’ll go back to my guy for the actual crown and further dental work that may be needed. She didn’t seem responsive when I explained that I had no intention of getting an implant in my molar gap because it’s 3-4 thousand dollars. She said I could do it over two years in three stages. *HeadDesk* I should have just told her that I’m fucking poor and unemployed, but that’s not always an easy thing to say to someone you don’t know and just met.
The funniest bit of today was when I was about to leave I was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to change my outfit. I was wearing jeans and a cute top combo, but walked out in a black dress and bright orange teggings. I don’t even know, y’all…I just don’t even know. Now I’m in my “comfy pants” and I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks about it. Sometimes we just gotta do what feels right, ya know?
So, give me your dental testimonials. Tell me the horror stories and the wondrous positive ones, too! Anything you do that helps calm your nerves in such moments? Tips, advice, anything you got…is very welcomed! Thanks for readin.