I had my first appointment with my new dentist today. I had spent months since my former dentist retired researching the internet to locate a good dentist for nervous and anxious patients. As it happens I can cope with pain, I can cope with doctors, I can cope with surgical and investigative procedures, though I’m not so good on general anaesthetic, but when it comes to dentists, I am a nightmare.
I had a very bad experience as a child with my first (school) dentist, who in her infinite wisdom decided I should have my first filling without anaesthetic of any kind. Needless to say, the sudden, sharp pain as she must have hit something she shouldn’t caused me to grab her arm – the one holding the drill in my mouth – and yank it away from my face. She erupted with anger telling me what I had just done was highly dangerous and I could have sliced the whole side of my face open. I was mortified and ended up crying.
The sadistic bitch continued to drill my tooth as the nurse held my arms down; all the while informing me I was being ridiculous by crying.
So, the start of my experiences of dental practitioners was not good and continued to be patchy at best, but horrific in one other instance. I finally found a good dentist in SE London about 5/6 years ago now and all was going so well. He allowed for my anxieties to the point where, on several occasions he completed the work while I sat upright in the chair. He was lovely and the office knew if I was coming in to allow extra time for my appointments.
Yes, dear reader, all was going well. Then, I had an infection under my cap and I went to see my dentist and he lanced it and I was to return to have what remained of the cap, tooth and roots removed the following week when it was less sensitive. Alas, my UC flared up and I had to postpone the appointment. That Friday, I received a notice from my reliable dentist to say he had retired and someone else was taking over the practice.
Well, I couldn’t go back and, if I am honest, I took one look at the new guy (through a window when passing) and decided “No Way”. So, months of internet searching later, including “Dental Fear Central” and I found one I thought I liked. What’s more, they incorporated an implant practice, something I was considering to replace the soon-to-be-missing tooth.
So, I mucked up the courage to call, but only after a week’s worth of pain from a secondary infection around the area of the broken tooth. Today was my first appointment and I think I chose well. The practice has a dentist who specialises in anxious patients and he allows a lot of time, more than any other dentist I’ve encountered, for the appointment.
I was greeted in the very comfortable reception by the dentist, who introduced himself, proceeded to take the chair next to mine and engaged in chit chat. After a few minutes, we made our way into the consulting room and the chatter didn’t stop. A lot of discussion, in between spending time on the examination, in short bursts, allowing me to breathe and relax.
I was very pleased that he was able to answer all my questions on possibilities for treatment, what was going on (even showing me the xrays), discussing pricing, appropriate health insurance providers, better techniques to ease the inflamation and so on. I felt very comfortable and there was no hint of condescension in his manner at all.
After an hour and 10 minutes I was back outside, still breathing normally and without any of the residual tension I usually have when leaving the dentist, even my former dentist left me feeling a little shaken.
So, I have booked an appointment with the hygenist and another with my new dentist’s colleague for the extraction. I am keeping my fingers crossed they are as soothing as the gentleman I met today. No doubt, I will write of my experiences (good or bad) at this blog.
I am fortunate in that today’s examination, the hygienest visit, extraction and mouth guard are all covered by my employer’s dental plan; often 100% coverage, but at the very least 80%.
Now, for the bad news …
Once the tooth has been extracted, the best and healthiest option is to replace it with an implant. “The cost?” you may well ask. Beyond my means would be my reply: £2,500.
So, from now on, just call me “Gappy“.