Thursday, February 11, 2016

Repair shop

Today’s Tooth Tale is a simple one: It was just some repairs. This was my first real appointment with my new dentist, and it went very well. Another step forward on this journey.

Today’s appointment, rescheduled from last week, was to repair holes in two upper molars. I chose amalgam fillings because the teeth had been repaired so much already and could use the “reinforcement”; amalgam fillings are much stronger than composite.

I’d avoided amalgam fillings for years after seeing a report that they gave off mercury vapour. Studies since then have failed to find any risk from amalgam fillings, and if the science indicates there’s no risk, that’s good enough for me. Obviously, I’d still use composite fillings anywhere they’re visible, but upper molars (in particular) are not. Plus, the added strength is clearly a good thing for me.

I said in an earlier Tooth Tales post about how I never felt the anaesthetic needle going in when I went to the periodontist. Actually, marvelled might be a better word, because I’d never experienced anything like it before.

Until today.

My new dentist was even better: I never felt a anything at all. I also had no pain or discomfort during the procedures, so I was able to just keep going so he could finish both fairly quickly. He explained to me what he was doing before each step—I’ve never been so fully informed about what a dentist was up to before. It was a really good experience—and I never thought I’d say THAT about going to the dentist!

He’d received the report from the periodontist and it turns out they both think that two lower molars need crowns. Oh joy—and kaching! However, the dentist recommends we wait until the orthodontist has a chance to evaluate everything because it could affect the plans. Among other things, an upper tooth that could use a crown might be extracted instead. Or, not. In any case, the dentist is emailing his assessment to the orthodontist so he can take it into consideration. This is what I was talking about when I said I was glad to have a team working together.

I’m going back to the dentist in about a week and a half to repair a small chip in one of my front teeth—the tooth that’s dropped. I remember when that happened: I was about five or six and some kid came running at me and banged me into the concrete-filled pole I was standing next to (it was there so they could string a chain across the space after house to keep cars off the school grounds). For years I could remember the kid’s name, but I’ve since forgotten it. However, I can still visualise the scene and remember the feeling. The school is no longer a school, and so much else has changed, but I still have that chip in my tooth.

The dentist will repair it because the orthodontist needs accurate measurements before they can even start. Plus, it’s much easier to do that now rather than later.

All of this has and will cost rather a lot (I say with deliberate understatement…). But spreading it all out over several years has made the cost somewhat less painful.

However, at least my new dentist doesn’t cause pain. In fact, if I’d had dentists like him all along, things may not have gotten as bad as they did. Having thought about it a lot, though, I’m now convinced that at least some of my problems were inevitable due to genetics from my dad’s side. He also gave me hair loss. Wasn’t that thoughtful?

Seriously, there’s nothing we can do about our genetic defects (yet…), so all I can reasonably do is deal with dental problems as they come up. That, and a little preventive work here and there, as well as the occasional visit to the tooth repair shop, like today.


The image above is a reproduction from the 20th US edition of Gray's Anatomy, and is in the public domain. It is available from Wikimedia Commons.

Update: There's a small update to this post (first item).

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