Friday, October 10, 2014

Small Adventure #35


I've never liked dentists. I had bad experiences with a specific dentist when I was much younger, which ultimately ended up with me having 25 cavities when I was in my early 20's. Then, when I was working as an electronics tech, the design engineer I was assigned to was going to night school to become a dentist (his job as an electronics engineer was just intended to pay his way through dental school). He was about to graduate, and I became his final year class project - 3 of my crowns, an inlay and a couple amalgams were used for his finals test. For the most part, he did good work on my teeth, and because this was taking place in a university, I only had to pay the cost of materials (came to $2,500, including 2 bridges, along with all the other stuff).

Unfortunately, because of the need for so much work to be done over multiple visits, I really came to dislike needles. Also, I've heard stories about dentists in Japan not using anesthetics when drilling, or doing things like root canals. So, I kept putting off visits to the dentists here for cleanings or regular check-ups.

2 weeks ago, while I was eating a piece of bread, I crunched down on something that seemed to be a small piece of rock. I wasn't sure if the rock had been in the bread or not, so I examined the bread closely, then threw the rock away. On the following Thursday, there there two more small pieces of something rough and silvery, plus a hole in the top of one of my teeth. One of the fillings had finally given way after 30 years. I wasn't able to make an appointment until last Wednesday, so I just made sure to chew on the other side of my mouth (which resulted in my biting my tongue really good a couple of times) and avoided anything cold. And spending way too much time dreading what was going to happen and how much it was going to cost.

Wednesday morning, I went to the dental clinic 5 blocks from my apartment, had help filling out the application sheet, and waited about 10 minutes for the dentist to see me. After a quick x-ray and some poking and prodding, the dentist and her assistant set to work drilling out the remaining filling material and packing in a new amalgam filling. They used an ample amount of local anesthetic, and after the filling was finished, the assistant gave my teeth a complete cleaning. The entire process took a little over an hour. And because I was covered by national insurance, cost a little more than $35 USD.

I don't know what additional charges I'll have to pay for in the next few weeks if I get a separate bill in the mail. And I still don't like dental visits. But I think I'll be a little more willing to get my teeth cleaned next time.

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