Saturday, January 31, 2009

Teething Troubles

Does anyone else hate dentists as much as I do? When I lived in England I was really good about going to see the dentist, and went every six months. Since moving to the US, I have to say that my dental visits have been a bit erratic, to say the least. Probably because I know that whenever I go, despite having insurance, it’s going to cost a bloody arm and a leg. Hell, you need to re-mortgage the house just to get your teeth cleaned here.

So in mid-December, when I began experiencing some discomfort in an area of my gums, I thought, uh oh this feels expensive. But I called the dentist’s office, and was offered an appointment five weeks hence. I complained a bit, but as the pain was not bad, I didn’t make too much fuss.

By the time I got to see them last week, it was a lot worse. They took a whole bunch of x-rays, and scared me to death by telling me I definitely had something going on back there, but they didn’t know what. Of course, in my mind it had to be cancer of the jaw, at the very least. They also said I had lost quite a bit of bone around my teeth, so they were referring me to a periodontist. Needless to say, the nearest one was 50 miles away in Joplin, Missouri. (Sigh)

On Monday, I called the periodontist’s office, only to be told that the appointment would be for March. This time I did complain about the pain, and she gave me an appointment for Thursday. Then on Monday afternoon, the ice storm moved in. So not only am I bricking it wondering what’s wrong with my gum, but I’m also thinking I’m not even going to be able to get there.

On Tuesday, the weather conspired against me still further by adding a hefty layer of snow on top of the ice. And the trouble with this area of Oklahoma is they do little or nothing about gritting or plowing the roads, so the whole place just grinds to a halt.

So on Wednesday, when the receptionist called to find out if I would be at my appointment, we got chatting, and it turns out she travels to work from this area. She told me that all the main roads were clear, but the side streets were still bad. And I thought, well if she can get there, I can.

To cut a long story short, it turns out that the problem with my gum is something to do with my bite being out of line. The dentist gave it some fancy name which I can’t remember. Whatever it was, it wasn’t cancer of the jaw. You can’t imagine my relief. So he gave me some antibiotics, and told me to go back next week for my teeth grinding into line, which sounds like a lot of fun. :-( He also said he would give me his full diagnosis then. At least all the teeth are not going to have to come out, (another of my worries), or why bother grinding them.

I must just tell you this little anecdote about my time in the chair. This morning I was reading Sarah's blog: and she was talking, among other things, about how we Brits have to curb our sarcasm here. The girl at the periodontist's who took my x-rays, also coated my teeth with a red dye, which helped to reveal plaque build-up. She said to me, "Most kids learn how to brush their teeth in kindergarten, here we have to teach adults how to do it." I wanted to reply, "That's funny, at school in England they taught us how to read and write." But I bit my tongue. It's no wonder I'm having all these oral problems. :-)

Anyway, on a brighter note, I did manage to get my entries in to the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Contest. I normally send entries to seven or eight categories, but this year, with all the worry about my teeth, I couldn’t concentrate, and only entered four. I’ve sent in a short-short story, a short story, a feature article, and a piece of nostalgic prose. So it’s fingers crossed now. Wish me luck.

Toodle pip for now.


A Brit in Tennessee said...

What a coincidence that your post today is all about dentists...
I have suffered with tooth discomfort all day long today, and vowed that I will find a new dentist this coming week, and let them have a little look-see.
I've put it off, and now I'm probably going to "pay the piper".
Best wishes with your essays, I'll be rooting fer ya:)

Lakeland Jo said...

first of all Good luck!!
About teeth- I am having problems with a sore mouth. Doc says nothing medical, problem is dental. We have an NHS dental but it is subsidised rather than free if you see what I mean, and is a real conveyer belt. The dentist we did have went private and it was soooo expensive. But you can always pay and get an appointment whenever you like as a safety net. The NHS dentist is booked months in advance. Sigh

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Sorry about the problems you're having, since I got here I have had to have 2 big molars extracted!

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Oh, and I have nominated you for an award, just pop on it to my blog !

Marjie said...

Have you tried a water pic? I had great discomfort of my gums for a long time, then got my hands on a water pic. A teaspoon of salt with half a bin of warm water, squirted around the teeth up toward the gums (sorry for the visual there), and in a few days time I was in much better condition. Good luck with this problem.

pamokc said...

Hi Janet, I have to commisserate about the dental bit -- I am going in the morning with a chipped tooth (or maybe a lost filling) ... ugh grrrrrrrr ugh.

I remember that red dye -- we used to get tablets to chew up (as kids), you used them after you brushed so if you saw anything red on your teeth, you had to go brush your teeth again.

I think the bite changes with the bone loss and that might be the cause of the problem. I've spent more time in the dentist's chair than I care to remember.

Denise said...

I've just been to the dentist not having gone for a while. I think we are the same as far as hating going there, and you have my sympathies believe me. White knuckles? I have white knuckles plus my blood pressure goes way up when I walk through the door. I was given the little red tablets, haven't used them yet as the thought of red dye in my mouth, well don't want to go there. I'm just going to try and be a good girl from now on and get there for regular check ups and turn over a new leaf about everything else. Oh the pressure! And just LOVE the lectures even when you say, "Please don't give me any lectures." They know you can't say anything because they've got their fingers practically down the throat. Now I am getting worked up about my next visit, which I am supposed to make for a follow up. And yes, all the best on your essays.