Tuesday, June 20, 2017

and that's done

Dental checkup. I hate those far more than I should. Part of it is bad memories from childhood of having bad teeth (apparently: not entirely my fault, though I didn't have the best dental hygiene; my niece also has some serious tooth issues and the dentist said that her weak enamel was v. likely hereditary. And her problems, though a good bit worse than mine, were similar). Part of it just my own personal sensory/brain-wiring issues: I don't like comparative strangers being all up in my face, and I don't like metal things in my mouth, and I don't like strange sounds in my mouth, and I have very sensitive hearing and also sinuses that transfer every weird mouth-sound to my ears, so my jaw clicking a little sounds like me breaking a tooth some times.

Also, doesn't help that a few years ago, I literally DID break a tooth, to the point where (sorry, dental phobes) I could feel the "flap" that was broken and just barely attached. (Shudder).

Also, last time, the hygienist was someone who wanted to BECOME a dentist, and so had a little bit of that insecurity-complex thing going on, and also liked using her position to lecture at me ("Why are your gums so sensitive?" she asked, while jamming floss into them, right after I told her my allergies had been bad and I was getting over a cold. Also I guess my gums bled a little which led her to tell me I wasn't flossing "hard" enough and I needed to toughen up my gums (???))

So that was part of the reason I was apprehensive. Because it's bad enough lying helpless in a chair with pointy metal things in your mouth without someone telling you "I don't understand why you are unhappy. This isn't hurting you."

Fortunately, I got someone different this time, someone who was quite cheerful and once I admitted I had a strong gag reflex (it's true) was extra careful with the bitewings and also was careful while doing the work on me. And she didn't Sonicate me, instead, she used a manual pick, which I actually prefer, because the sound of the Sonicator is like the Devil's "REEEEEEEEEE!"

She also kept telling me periodically I was doing "great" and kept me posted on how much longer a process was going to take.

The other piece of good news: my teeth are sound (and I have x-rays this appointment to prove it) and need no further work. Barring emergencies, I don't need to go back until December.

I did have one odd stray thought during the whole thing: I wonder where teeth fall on Moh's scale of hardness. (This is a geology thing for determining properties of rocks and minerals).

Turns out, it's known: tooth enamel is similar enough to apatite, which has a hardness of five.

Of course, the problems with that are (a) enamel is a pretty thin layer and can be subject to wear and acid attack that weaken it, (b) that doesn't consider the structural soundness of the shape of the tooth (I know lots of people who have managed to shear off a bit of a molar on something) and (c) if you've had any work done, that's gonna weaken the whole tooth (which is why I had that tooth break several years ago: it was a large, old filling, and it had probably gotten weak, and I hit just the wrong spot on it with an over-roasted dry roasted peanut)

Also, scratch-resistance doesn't mean something isn't brittle, and I think that's the real problem with tooth damage, more than scratching them.

That said, our enamel apparently has the same hardnessas glass and knife blades, meaning neither should scratch your teeth. (But a steel file will - ouch)


ETA: I made it through the appointment (mentally, I mean) using three things: thinking about getting in bed tonight and NOT having any checkups hanging over my head (I've had three in the past month). And I took one of my spare blindbag figurines of Fluttershy in my pocket, and also I looked out the window at the sky and clouds. One small bit of good design the dentists thought of when having this office built - all of the examination chairs, and most of the "operatory" chairs (the ones where they do fillings and crown preps and the like) look out big windows. The regular exam chairs are the best because they look out the back of the building, and there's nothing there but trees and sky (the front of the building fronts on the access road for 75). There ARE a few operatories (where they do bigger things, I assume) that are just a chair in a private room with no windows - I was in one of those for the emergency treatment of my broken tooth, but I think that was because all the other chairs were booked (I was fit in on v. short notice), the other crowns I've had done have been in the normal chairs. That room may have been for the sedation dentistry part of the practice, I don't know.

And people do ask me: why not do sedation if you hate it so much, or at least take a Xanax or something before going in? Well, for one thing - I am more afraid of being "out of it" and not being able to manage if, for example, I suddenly have a lot of post-nasal drip choking me. And I react strangely to some medications, and never having taken Xanax, it might be a bit of a gamble to see how I react. (Benadryl, for example, makes me hyperalert and anxious instead of sleepy).

But the other thing is, the logistics would be such a pain: I'd have to find someone with the time to drive me out there, and then wait, and then drive me home. Most of my friends either work and aren't free when I would make the appointment, or they are caring for elderly/disabled parents or spouses, or have small children at home. So I find it just easier to white-knuckle it through the appointment - and really, it's less stressful in the long run, because I'm worst right before the appointment and a little bit during, and figuring out the logistics would be days of stress for me.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

All of the exam rooms at my dentist's office have tall windows that look out onto an artificial stream and waterfall. Inside the walls and ceiling are painted a pleasant pale yellow, very close if not actually identical to the color of my kitchen. It funny how little things like that make such a huge difference. At least they do to me.