Thursday, December 03, 2020

New Tooth Tales

It’s been more than two years since I last published a Tooth Tales post, though I mentioned bits in pieces in other posts. But today opened a new chapter, so it’s worth talking about that all by itself.

Today I had my first appointment at my new dentist here in Hamilton, and it was really good (time was I’d never have said THAT about a dental appointment…). Everyone was really nice, and I noticed that the dentist didn’t push the most expensive solution, but, rather, the right solution that was often not the most expensive. I really like that.

This appointment was specifically motivated by some dental pain I had, something I talked about a couple weeks ago. That pain eventually went away, but I needed to see a dentist, anyway, so off I went.

The problem, I suspect is with the tooth that’s crowned. There’s a cavity so low that it can’t be fixed and filled, and the only option is extraction. I’ve known that was probable for a long time, so I wasn’t surprised. What was interesting is that he didn’t push me to have a very (very) expensive implant, but noted I could just leave it and have it put in later if I wanted it (I may have misunderstood, but it though my former periodontist was saying that I had to do it right away or not at all). In any event, there’s not rush for any of that.

I also learned that there’s one periodontist in Hamilton, and the wait time for an appointment is at least six months. I was pretty shocked to learn that. What they do to get around that bottleneck is to do more aggressive cleaning at the dental practice by the hygienist, who measures the pockets as well as doing deeper cleaning, like the periodontist did—but at a lower cost, of course. If there’s something too serious for the dental practice, they can always refer me to a specialist, however, I’ve long thought that a good dental hygienist can do much of the deep cleaning that a periodontist does—in fact, many years ago (probably some 18 years ago) that’s exactly what I had done.

The one sticking point is that the earliest I can see the dentist for the extraction is mid-January, and the hygienist on my birthday (!) a week and a half later (the next available appointment was in early February). I’m on a waiting list for both in case there’s a cancellation, which, apparently, happens all the time. So, I may actually see them for one or the other fairly soon, but the biggest barrier here is shutdown over the Christmas/New Year holidays, during which so much is closed for at least two weeks.

Aside from all that, my teeth are healthy and stable, and while a couple are a bit looser (because of the periodontal disease), they’re not at risk. I mainly need the same sort of regular cleaning and check-up as anyone else, though with some more intensive cleaning than most people get.

So, today’s experience was good, especially because of how nice everyone was—that makes a huge difference. And, while the specifics of my care will be different than in Auckland, the effect will ultimately be the same—and at a lower cost. All of which gives me something to smile about.

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.


Roger Owen Green said...

WAY less painful (for you, and for us to experience on your behalf) than previous Tooth Tales.

Arthur Schenck said...

Right? And it will mean less pain for my wallet, too.