making a dent

Hmmm. I was going to see timber tonight, but there’s been a change of plans which suddenly frees me up, on a night when all of my couple-y friends are traditionally doing their own couple-y things.

Frees me up to do what?

Well, I could straighten up the house. Goodness knows it needs it. Okay, I’ll get to that as soon as I finish this post.

This post about… dentists. I am dreading an upcoming, still-unscheduled appointment with a new (to me) dentist. And here is the long, boring history of why:

My childhood dentist was Dr. Akelian. He was gruff and never gave any painkilling shots, then called me a crybaby when I cried in the chair. Also, his big fat fingers were salty. (I’m giving away my age, there.) An all-around unpleasant experience. Since he was the only dentist I’d ever known, I assumed that all dentists were like that. Dad was lax about making sure that my sister and I had our bi-annual visits after mom left, so from the ages of 10 to 16 I simply avoided the dentist’s office entirely.

When I was 16, and my sister was 22, she needed some dental work that couldn’t be avoided and found Dr. Veenstra. It had been so long that I knew I’d better go, as well. I would like to crown this man King Of All Dentists. His demeanor was so pleasant, and at my very first appointment, when he asked who my previous dentist had been, his hygienist looked alarmed and said “Dr. Akelian is still practicing?!” which gave me great satisfaction to hear. I knew that man was a monster! Dr. Veenstra complimented my teeth and never made me feel like I didn’t floss enough or wasn’t brushing correctly. I left Dr. Veenstra’s care eight years later, only because I left New Jersey.

My first dentist in Boulder, Dr. Baer, was a little scary from Day One. He never did anything threatening, but I didn’t like having a 6pm appointment with no other people in the building. No receptionist at the desk, no hygienist to assist… just me and a stocky man I’d never met. I sensed that perhaps he wasn’t the best choice when he lost count while doing my bitewing X-rays, and had to redo a few. At the time, I’d been experiencing an achy jaw which he informed me was the annoying presence of my wisdom teeth. However, they hadn’t yet broken the gumline, though I was 24 at the time, and they should have surfaced years earlier. He suggested that I wait until they emerged so that the extraction would be a simple in-office procedure instead of surgery.

Shortly thereafter, I received a glowing recommendation for Drs. Murphy & Brown, (now North Boulder Dental) so I took my films to their office and sat myself down in a chair. Again, lovely people. Every single person in that office was as polite as can be, and I remember that the panoramic X-ray they took (because Dr. Baer’s films didn’t actually show my back teeth) cost $60 because they were so very concerned about my paying for it out-of-pocket due to the 5-year coverage limit of my insurance. When the pano was developed, it was clear even to me that my wisdom teeth were never going to emerge because all four were impacted.

I don’t remember the name of the surgeon who removed those four aching teeth, but I remember that he called on a Saturday to check up on me, and that “conscious sedation” was one of the more pleasant experiences in my life. This is why people get hooked on drugs.

Alas, my out-of-network “80% of reasonable charges” covered only about 30% of the bills, so I had to move on.

I don’t even remember the name of the next office, let alone any of the dentists. It was one of those deals where you see a different doctor each time you go. I never built a relationship with any of them, and they occasionally contradicted each other’s diagnoses. “You need a crown on that tooth.” “I can’t even find a cavity in that tooth.” “This tooth has been worked on so many times, we should just pull it.” “We would NEVER pull a tooth we could work on! Which dentist suggested that?!” I did not mind leaving them when I moved to Westminster.

On my mother’s recommendation, I started seeing Dr. Yeats at Comfort Dental. At first, a very nice man. He didn’t tell me that I wasn’t flossing enough. He reprimanded the billing chick who didn’t want to honor the Comfort Dental coupon. He, oddly, wasn’t concerned by the yet-again-broken filling in “that” tooth. He gave me a cleaning, priced out a crown for a different tooth, and sent me on my way. My first crown was a pretty bad experience. The temporary was too high, but I was assured that a. my gums were swollen from the work and b. the real crown would fit better. It didn’t. After the initial fitting of my gold crown, I had to go back twice for additional filing before I could get my bite back. And still, Dr. Yeats was completely ignoring the broken filling. I played along. A year later and I needed a crown on a different tooth. The temporary crown fit this time, but the porcelain crown was again too big. And again, I had to go back for adjustments. When they filed the porcelain down to the base metal that the crown is formed on, they had to resort to filing the tooth above before I got my bite back. Also, the crown is slightly narrower than the tooth was, so I keep getting food stuck in between that and the next tooth. I floss a LOT. I asked if this was just how things went with crowns, and Dr. Yeats told me that “99% of the time they’re fine, but when there’s a complaint it always seems to be the same clients.” I’m sorry, did you just INSULT me because YOUR work is shoddy?

It’s now been a year since my last visit, and that broken filling isn’t fixing itself. Megan and Joe gave me a glowing recommendation for Dr. Sniegowski, who is actually COVERED by my crappy insurance plan, so as soon as I raise up the courage (or develop actual pain) I’ll make an appointment. Wish me luck!

Okay, time to clean up this chaos in my kitchen.



Filed under doctors and dentists

2 responses to “making a dent

  1. Mandy

    Mmmmm. “Conscious sedation.” I experienced that the first time on Tylenol-3 while on vacation in NC. Unfortunately, it must have been a unique combination of the drug, the sun and being on vacation; that feeling has never been repeated on the Tylenol-3.

  2. Pingback: taking donations « shoes and pie

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