Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gums and Choppers

I hate going to the dentist. Period.

I rather go through a gynecological exam than the dentist. It is true. Going to the dentist is right on top with shopping at Walmart for the things I least like to do.

Until about 10 years ago I had been going to a dentist (Dr G) since my teeth came out as a toddler.  When he retired I had to look elsewhere. It was a couple of years before I found another one.

No dental insurance is the main reason of the lapse.

About 3-4 years ago, I found a dentist (I'll call him Dr P).  I realized how outdated my previous dentist was. By the way my parents and sister and her family had gone to Dr G just as long and their new dentists found all kinds of problems. So all those years we were giving Dr G money for less than adequate dental care.

Through the years Dr G had mentioned offhandedly on occasion that I had periodontal disease and suggested I waterpik and floss which I did. Since he didn't press further, I forgot about it. After all, my trust was in this dentist believing he was taking good care of my mouth and if something was terribly wrong he would inform me.

Dr P gave me the same diagnosis in addition to having to get every cavity redone along with plaque build up. The only reason he gave me was due to poor oral hygiene which I knew was not true. I used a waterpik, flossed and brushed my teeth at least twice a day every day.  

Dr G as well as my pulmonologist had told me my inhalers and meds were factors of gum disease and plaque build up. But again,they said it so nonchalantly that I didn't give it any further thought. Maybe I should have.

Dr. P's staff made me feel so embarrassed. They were  condescending and made me feel like a two year old being reprimanded. They spoke like I was going to lose my teeth soon, if I didn't do what they told me I had to do (Mainly have all the work done and pay them big bucks). Every time I went they 'needed' to do a debridement" which was 100 bucks. I told them I was paying this out of pocket and I was on a fixed income. I couldn't be doing this indefinitely.The next time they gave me a "plan". It was a series of debridements and replacing all my cavities etc etc. The final price (or so they say) was about $2500.

Then I started noticing the receipts didn't jive with my payments. I inquired about it several times and the girl was a nitwit. I talked to someone else and they manipulated the billing. My Hubby and I sat down and did the accounting ourselves and it didn't add up to what they had. It seemed they were double billing and not subtracting my payments. Hubby was an accountant in the Air Force so I know he knew what he was doing. Although math isn't my strong suit, I know basic arithmetic. They actually owe me but I know I won't ever see it. In return I will never refer them to anyone if someone asks.

So I just stopped going. I was frustrated, wary of dentists and depressed. I continued to water pick and brush my teeth.

Two years later Hubby put me on his dental insurance after we got married. It had been a year since he put me on but I just didn't want to deal with a dentist so I procrastinated.  I was afraid I was going to go through the same frustration.

With Hubby's nudging and an intermittent toothache, I decided to put the insurance to use. After all, dental care is no out of pocket twice a year for cleaning, right?

I did some research online with the providers that were on our insurance. I found two dentists, Dr C. and Dr R. I heard and read good things about both of them. I called Dr R and they couldn't take me for 2 months.

Dr C has a website. I filled out an inquiry form. They responded within hours (Absolutely amazing for businesses I've dealt with via online) and said they could see me in two weeks. I called and made my appointment

Yesterday was the dreadful day, as I call a dental appointment.  Did I say I hate the dentist?

The office called me about 1-1/2 hours before my appointment and asked if I could go in early. I said sure. So off I went.

Their office is in the same area where my old pulmonologist used to be. He was one special man. It brought back memories. Weird how memories just pop up like that. Maybe that will be another post in the future.

Anyway, i entered and the receptionist greeted me and took my paperwork. Within 5 minutes another girl called my name. I'm sorry I can't remember her name and she was so nice.

I am really lousy in remembering names.

I followed her through a maze of halls as we chitchatted. But I did note that she was walking WITH me. It is a pet peeve of mine when I have to follow someone such as a nurse or waiter and they blow ahead of me so fast I can't keep up. I have literally stopped a few times until the person realized I wasn't behind them and they had to come back for me. It embarrassed them but I think they got the message.

So it was looking good.

A little information: I have been coughing up a storm for about a month now. Its a dry irritating cough. My voice goes in and out as the weather changes. When I stay still  the cough is better. But if I talk, eat, drink, move in any way, just a tad, I cough. Sometimes my coughing spells induce shortness of breath. I It's sorta 'normal' with the type of weather we've been having. I chalk it up to my C.O.P.D./Hay fever/Asthma.

Kinda sad and crazy for a cough to be "normal" eh?

Anyway we finally arrived at a room and she did x-rays. Gawd I hate x-rays. My mouth is small. They put the tool shown below in my mouth.

She had a white square of gauze attached to it and shoved (gently) into my little mouth. It was not an easy task. Alot of maneuvering was done to place it. Then I had to bite which causes my already poor gag reflex go awry as part of the tool is like a small breeze . I have learned to deal with such things but I promise it is not fun. My reflex was to gag full force. It hurts everything in my mouth. The assistant kept asking me if I was okay. I shook my head yes and with hand gestures told her to just do it and get it over with.

When I was a child my Mamma would say, "Just as well let them do what they gotta do and get it over faster. Because we are not going anywhere until it is done" I also knew I would get a butt whipping if I didn't cooperate. I could cry but not sob and scream like I've heard and seen other children too.

The girl was very compassion and patient. She had to stop for me to cough a couple of times . When I need to cough and try to keep it in it is worse when I finally let it go. I was a good girl and got through it.

Another assistant came in and replaced the other one. She was also nice, and compassionate.  I was beginning to feel comfortable and relax more. We talked about my medical history and drugs. I told her how my gums bleed every night when I brush and water pik. I reminded her that I take Aspirin as well. Then she said it...

She said she saw it in other patients with Autoimmune disorders and that in addition to that I have many other medical problems that has to do with my teeth and gums. She also said my inhaler and meds didn't help matters but we gotta do what we gotta do. I told her I knew about the periodontal disease but it just seems to stay, no matter how much I brush, floss and waterpik. I assumed it was the Aspirin causing me not to clot, which it is doing its job!

She explained to me everything I needed to know that NO ONE has ever told me. She asked if I thought about going to a Periodontist. I remember my mom bringing me as a child but otherwise no. She said we'll see what the dentist has to say. But she said for people like me with autoimmune disorder that could be a good thing so they could help me stabilize my gum disease.

She asked me who my previous dentist was. I know medical professionals don't like to say anything against their peers. I saw her grimace. I told her my experience with Dr P. She listened and shook her head like she has heard it before. After I was finished, she said, "OH I know what you are talking about. I've had patients from him." That is all that was needed to be said. I wasn't all that crazy after all.

As she started cleaning my teeth, the cough began.  I apologized. She said, "Don't worry about it. I know its your C.O.P.D." Finally, a person in a dental office who actually read and took in account my medical history and medication list. She emphasized that they had many patients with C.O.P.D. and autoimmune disorders.

She cleaned my teeth and debrided my gum with intermittent delays due to my coughing. She said it looked like I had good oral hygiene. She reiterated the autoimmune disorder is a factor in making it difficult to have healthy gums and teeth.

After she was finished the dentist came in. Dr C reinforced what her assistants said.  I had a cavity but we need to get the support (the gum) of my teeth stabilized first. She asked me if I would be willing to return in 2-4 weeks after swishing with an antibiotic rinse so she can see what kind of improvement occurs. And then we would go from there. Our main focus is to get my gums stabilized as much as possible. It may never be totally normal but we can get it in a good place. I was okay with that.

The way Dr C and her staff treated me and talked to me I walked out feeling reassured. My teeth and gums hurt like hell and they irritated my gag reflex to the point of me wanting to gag for the rest of the day but I feel like I am in a better place. I also had to pay a fee for the debridement and antibiotic rinse but I can handle $37.

I still hate the dentist but I think this one will make it less painful in every sense.

Meanwhile, my Hubby had been having a toothache and went to his dentist about 4 times in six months. The dentist took x-rays and kept saying there was nothing there he could see.

Well part of his tooth fell out and he went back. Finally his dentist sent him to an oral surgeon which we had to go to Baton Rouge 75 miles away.

When the oral surgeon did a CT scan he saw immediately what was wrong. He asked Hubby who was his dentist. He emphasized that the problem should have been found way sooner. He seemed a little disturbed.

Even I noticed something was wrong looking at the CT. Didn't know what it was but knew it was an abnormality.

What happened was part of the tooth worked its way into the gum, pretty much eroding the gum and root..making the tooth climb up into his SINUS cavity causing an infection. The had been having trouble with his nose stopped up and his snoring had worsened. Now we know.

We were royally ticked off. Understand, he went to a different dentist than I.  We were like what the hell is with all the dentists around here?

So Friday he is going in for an extraction of the tooth. Then he will need an implant.  The surgeon said if it was caught sooner, all he would have had to undergo was a root canal.

As I write this I am thinking, going to a dentist can go any way. They could lie to you about needing all kinds of treatment or they can miss the whole problem altogether. We understand Doctors/Dentists are humans and make mistakes. But Hubby went numerous times for the same problem. It should have been caught.

We have dental insurance but like most they cover only a portion except for the 'preventive'  So our tax refund is already spent.

But hopefully we are on our way to healthier choppers! I can't remember how I got that term for teeth...but anyway..until next time....

Thanks for dropping by.

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