Saturday, October 21, 2006

Wanted: Good Dentist

Like most responsible people with insurance, over the past year I have had two regular dental checkups and cleanings.  At each visit, I mentioned this recurring pain and sensitivity in one tooth but the doctors were convinced nothing was wrong.  Two different dentists said this, in two different practices.  They poked and pressed and x-rayed and flossed it, concluding that nothing was wrong.  They paid special attention to the old root canal in the neighboring tooth, which was done 8 years ago, but each doctor deemed it as sound and secure as it had been the day it was performed.  The second doctor said my gums indicated I wasn't flossing regularly, but the tooth itself seemed perfectly normal.  I couldn't believe this pain was hidden from everyone but me.  It was so bad that if I encountered an unexpected hard texture in my food, EVERYONE in the room would have to know that I was in pain.  It was happening at least once a day.  When it started throbbing all on its own, I went back to the dentist hoping he would be able to fix it.  He thoroughly examined the tooth AGAIN, and decided it must be a cracked tooth.  This is something that can't really be treated -- either the tooth gets better on its own, or it breaks eventually and then they fix the broken tooth.  I was amazed.  I guess it happens pretty commonly, to hear a doctor say there's nothing he can do, but it's never happened to ME.  Unbelievable.  Sure enough, two and a half weeks after that visit, the tooth broke and the dentist fixed it with a filling.  The novacaine didn't have enough of an effect, though, and I whimpered and squirmed and hated it more than any dentist visit I've ever had.  The doctor was really surprised at how quickly the novacaine seemed to wear off.  He said "Most people take ten minutes to get numb, but you start getting UN-numb in ten minutes.  You must metabolize this stuff really quickly!"  I shrugged.  I just wanted to get outta there.  After I left his office, I wa able to relax and my blood started flowing more normally so *only then* did my jaw and lip get fully numb.  Great.

I've lived in this part of New Jersey for four years, and I've been looking for a great dentist the whole time.  I've only met two people who tell me they really like their dentists: one is an hour away, and the other is not covered by my insurance.  All the other people I've asked have felt the same way about their dentist as I feel about mine: "Eh, he's okay.  Nothing special, though."

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