Look Ma No Cavities

Look Ma No Cavities
In the last few days I’ve been experiencing some minor discomfort in one of my teeth.  This brought back some very terrible memories of a toothache I had when was about 10.  I couldn’t see the dentist for a couple of days and I really suffered.  I was in constant throbbing pain and there was little anyone could do.  When I finally made it to the dentist I found out the tooth wasn’t worth saving so they extracted it.  I was pretty excited about that because I hate fillings.  My teeth almost never completely freeze.  There were times the dentists would give me 3 needles and I still felt what was going on. I’ve always preferred the quick yank to the drill.  When they pulled that tooth I just lost it.  My feet went kicking and I must have cried for 15 minutes aftwards.  What a terrible experience.

I generally don’t like going to dentists.  Being self employed I don’t have dental insurance.  I haven’t gone for a checkup in a long long time.  I’m also highly motivated to avoid what I experienced as a child.   So I made an appointment as soon as I felt some discomfort.  I have no idea why some people prefer the pain of toothache to the dentist.  That makes no sense to me.  Fortunately the discomfort faded over the last few days.  I had my appointment today and I have no cavities just a leaking filling.  I’m so happy.  All in all I will be out a few hundred dollars.  Phew!

  1. #1 by Toni on November 18, 2003 - 11:11 am

    I can sympathise a bit. As a kid my grandmother gave me non-stop sweets, and by the time I was 6 all my top teeth had rotted. Dental medicine was a little more ‘pragmatic’ then than now, and as a result they pulled ALL my top teeth. Every single one! I can still remember waking up with the taste of gas in my throat and seeing blood all over the bib I was wearing.

    Apparently about 10 mins after getting home I ate an apple by scraping the flesh off with my bottom teeth.

  2. #2 by Linea on November 19, 2003 - 6:22 am

    You wouldn’t believe how many people let fear paralyse them. They have to wait till the pain exceeds the level of fear before they come and see us(dentists). And there are a lot of very sympathetic dentists out there that would do almost anything to help these people get past this to becoming healthy. Fear seems to cause unintentional (or maybe intentional) memory loss too as it is apparently the most common reason for people forgetting to come for their appointments.

  3. #3 by Randall on November 19, 2003 - 6:30 am

    … I think Linea knows I’m here reading this…

  4. #4 by LT on November 19, 2003 - 11:11 am

    From my recent discussions on the topic I would add a few other reasons why people avoid dentists.


    No one is sure that all the work they get done is necessary. It’s kind of like taking your car to a mechanic when you know nothing about cars.


    There can be a huge range in prices between dentists. The dentist I was at charges $66 for a basic filling. My neighbour’s child had 4 fillings for $133 each. How do you know what you are getting? Any second opinion you get would cost another exam fee.

    Dental Insurance is Complicated

    The various formulas that insurance companies use can be confusing. My neighbour thought her kids were covered, but because her son needed something special she ended up paying $500 she didn’t expect. Being self employed I don’t have dental insurance.

    The Lecture

    I understand how a dentist is obligated to remind their patients about flossing and other aspects of oral care. Unfortunately not all dentists good at this. Some people hate the annual lecture they get.

  5. #5 by Toni on November 20, 2003 - 7:05 am

    In the UK we went through a major shake-up of the dental system a decade ago. Before that virtually all dentists were state funded from ‘national insurance’ tax contributions. The profession went through a crisis, with the majority of dental work becoming private. The bad side was that almost everyone has to pay directly now. The good side is that dentists have suddenly discovered that people come back if they think they’re being looked after.

    Visiting a dentist is now relatively painless, with better anaesthetics, surgeries and processing by the clinic. I joked with Linea about a previous dentist of mine called ‘Dr. Butcher’ on her blog. However I was told by a newly qualified dentist about 18 years ago that my teeth were in generally good condition because I did *not* regularly visit the dentist. Any examination always seemed to involve lots of probing and pushing with sharply pointed instruments, and his take was that this was a major cause of damage.

    Never thought I’d be a supporter of private medicine. Although the hygenist makes up for it!

  6. #6 by Linea on November 20, 2003 - 7:08 am

    Randall – If you are reading this again – you are no where as afraid as some of my patients.

    LT – You are right about the trust issue. If you are not too intimidated you need to ask. And if your dentist is not too intimidated by your asking, you will get a better idea of what you need and why.

    Fees in this province are fairly standard. The fee should reflect the difficulty of the procedure, the number of surfaces that are filled, the type of filling material, etc.

    Dental insurance is exremely cocmplcicated. Insurance coverage is always limited in some way and the coverage provided by an insurance comcpany is not a good indication of what dental work is really needed by the patient. Your dentist should be willing to listen to your concerns about insurance coverage. Stuff can be submitted to the company in a predetermination if you really need to know.

    Lots of people don’t have insurance coverage and dental work is expensive. It does reflect what it costs us to provide the service. We usually employ several people, etc. (Most of us would love to provide the services needed without the constant worrying about the fees we have to charge) Usually your dental work doesn’t need to be done all at once if you have been keeping up with it over the years.

    The key to keeping costs down is to prevent bad stuff from happening. That is why the lecture. Sorry if the lecture is no fun. We are not all good at the “lecture”.

Comments are closed.