Thursday, October 1, 2009

My dental appointment

With great trepidation, I got in the car to go to the dentist.

Words that bring a chill to my heart.

Because the office was close to my son's school, I picked him up first, and then proceeded to make my decent into hell.

I figured having the kid there would force me to be brave.  You can't break down and cry in front of a 12 year old boy - they just get grossed out.  Especially one who has no fear of dentists.

(And, the fact that I felt teary at the thought of this dentist appointment should tell you something.  I think the last time I cried was during my first son's birth, almost 23 years ago.  It was 48 hours of hard labor, with pitosin, and completely unmedicated.  I think I dropped a tear at hour 32, after screaming GET IT OUT OF ME and they wouldn't.)

To lighten the mood on the way to the dentist office, I bet my son that there would be a fishtank in the dentist's office.  When we arrived, he was pleased to point out, "Look mom, there's no fishtank."  He'd failed to turn around.  I pointed to the back wall, and he saw it.  He has his father's keen observational skills.

Now comes the part that disappointed me.  Nobody there was wearing horns.  Nobody there was carrying pitchforks. Nobody there had evil eyes with gleaming white teeth a cruel, malevolent smile.

In fact, everybody was amazingly nice and incredibly solicitous.  And, I do mean everybody. If the lady who sweeps the floors at night had been there, I know she'd have come out and wished me well and maybe even shined my shoes - they were THAT nice.

I can't complain about this appointment, as much as I want to.

I can't complain about the dental assistant, who took her time taking x-rays so I wasn't freaked and who doubled up the lead protection on my chest in case I had to have radiation later. She never laughed at me, even when my blood pressure, which is usually 110/70, and has never been higher than 120/70 - not even when was hospitalized with appendicitis - shot up to 140/85, nor when I gagged during the x-ray procedure.

I can't complain about the dentist, who was extremely  understanding about my fear, told me what he was going to do before he did it, and who did not give me one lecture about flossing or brushing.

(Have you ever had a dentist skip that lesson?  I haven't.)

I almost fell in love when he told me my teeth looked in really good shape for not having any cleanings or treatments for 8 years.  I was sure he was going to tell me they weree rotted out and needed to be pulled.

I can't complain when he spent 40 minutes going over my medications and any interactions with ones he wants to give me to make sure I'd be safe.  Or when he said he'd contact his friend who is a professor at Harvard Medical School to be sure everything would be fine.

I can't complain about the office staff who understood I needed to do this quickly and, despite the fact that this dentist was fully booked until December, made that happen.  (October 7th is the day.)

I can't complain about the other patients - one of whom gave up their appointment slot to give it to me so I can get everything done before chemo.  Whoever that anonymous person is - and I don't know if you were even informed of why you were asked to move - you deserve good karma.

As for the diagnosis, I do have gum disease, under the gum line, as anybody who'd gone years without dental care would.  They can do that in one treatment  (as long as I'm sedated) and the bacteria will be gone for chemo.   I have a cracked tooth (which I knew) which is creating heat/cold sensitivity.  I have one small cavity.  Other than that, nothing else is wrong.  Cosmetically,  I have a cap on the front tooth that is 20 years old and my other front tooth broke off years ago, was cemented together and is discolored.  They can do Da Vinci veneers for those - all in the same treatment.  He said my other teeth look fine.

They even are going to rush the veneer process, because they are made off-site and will come in about the time I start chemo, and my temporary caps might not withstand any vomiting that could happen.

What can I say?  Maybe not every dentist trained at the Steve Martin school of dentistry.

But, there is one creepy thing.

Super creepy in fact.

The sedation they are giving me (this is sedation dentistry) ..well, it keeps you awake.  You are apparently there, but not there.  You need to be monitored but can walk and talk and respond.  If you have to pee, they take you.....but you know you have to pee.  You won't remember anything but are apparently function as normal.  I can listen to music on my iPhone, but not text.  Because, I won't know what I'm saying but will be capable of saying it.   My husband has to come and sign papers that says he realizes that I may act normal but will not actually BE normal and need to be monitored.

That's just weird.  I hope I don't confess that murder I committed.

Especially since it was a dentist I killed.

I'm giving a shameless plug to this dentist, because he was so great.  If you are in Sacramento, here ya go:


  1. Well, I'm glad it went well! Did I read right - Oct 7??

  2. Hi Ann,
    Llurgy from Tivo Community speaking (Telling you just in case you think it is weird that a complete stranger may be writing on and reading your blog)

    too have a really big fear about going to the dentists. I too have gum disease, I too have to be sedated to go for anything other than a clean up (which incidentally I have to have every 3 months and it has taken 3 years to get to the point that I dont have to be sedated to be cleaned)

    The sedation is really cool. Generally you have to take a tablet the night before, one (different tablet)an hour before your appointment and another at the appointment.
    You feel awake but not all there. I actually have fallen asleep but I can still here them tell me to open my mouth, mouths tend to be uncooperative when asleep :)

    You HAVE to have someone with you to take care of you because you ARE able to function, but you don't remember what you have done the next day.
    I have paid for my treatment after my procedure and not remembered doing so.
    I have been to eat with my husband and daughter and refused to believe it the next day as I haven't been able to remember anything about it. The receipt from said meal had to be produced to prove it :)

    How can a person go out to a restaurant, eat a meal and not remember it??

    So, yes, you can function whilst under the sedation, you feel great, and very happy and you dont remember a thing about it almost as son as that thing has happened :)

    Good luck with everything.

    Whilst I dont like the reason you have for writing this blog I find it very refreshing to read and very funny. I know that was your intent and I can quite truthfully say that you have achieved that totally.


  3. Hi Vicky,

    Yep, October 7 is the date. And, Mandy, thanks so much for the description! I am a bit (okay, completely) freaked out by the thought that I'll have an entire day of life, acting normally, that I won't remember. So odd!

    But, if there is any day in life to wipe out, the day you go to the dentist is the right day. :)

  4. Welcome to getting a colonoscopy. :)

    It honestly feels like you've been knocked out. It's the same feeling, really. A bit easier to come out of, I think.

    -Angie (from TCF)

  5. I am thinking of flying over ... just to see your dentist!

    I like the sound of the sedation stuff - do you think I can have some for next week's chemo session. There but not there ... sounds heavenly.

    Love - P x


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