Sunday, July 25, 2010


So I went to the dentist yesterday expecting a hellacious cleaning after a 4 year hiatus between professional attentions. I was also hoping I could, without detriment to my chompers, get out of having x-rays taken. X-rays, I reasoned, are expensive. In the quote I received from the receptionist (thanks Audio Girl!) a new patient with x-rays would run about $400. Coincidentally that's the exact same amount that the veterinarian quoted me to clean Anna's teeth.

There's a joke in there about the health care system but my despair won't allow me to dig it out.

They didn't make me get the x-rays, well, they allowed me to put off the x-rays until my next cleaning in 6 months. I think they did that out of guilt because being a new patient, having a thorough cleaning and getting 2 teeth filled cost $770. That, also coincidentally, is the exact same amount as my coveted fancy lens. I paid for my teeth with my debit card. Guess I could have bought that lens after all.

You know, if I wanted my teeth to rot out of my head.

Apparently if I'd left one of those cavities any longer it would have been a route canal which, I'm assuming, would have been more expensive.

OK, got that all off my chest so I could tell you this, though. Have you had this numbing gel before? The hygienist who cleaned, she claims, more like 5 years of tartar from my teeth was a champion. She was my fairy godmother in a paper mask. I told her that the cleaning part freaked me out because my teeth were sensitive, not the gums I had to stress, the teeth themselves. I thought she might give me some gas or something but she suggested we try this numbing gel stuff. She seemed nice and I lose all backbone in medical situations so we did.

Tastes like crap but she reapplied it generously as she worked and, though I wouldn't call the experience pleasant (a couple of times there I thought she might accidentally yank a tooth right out of my mouth), it was the least traumatic cleaning I've had in a couple of decades. I do not dread going back in 6 months. Well, not much.

She offered me advil between cleaning and polishing, too. I refused at first and then relented. She thought that was smart. Given that 15 minutes later I was in another room getting my first ever fillings I think it was smart, too.

The takeaway from yesterday (aside from the regular brush, floss, go to the dentist regularly, and take the advil whenever it's offered) is ask for the numbing gel! And, if you can manage it, get the really nice hygienist.


  1. Yay for your shiny smile! Root canal is not only more expensive... it's harder to look on the bright side. (Should you ever need one, it's not as bad as you fear - but it's nothing you'd want to try just to experience it, like the Cyclone).

    Congrats on delaying your first fillings so long - bodes well for a long and happy life.

  2. I used to be pretty terrible with the dentist (I think I was revolting against my mother, who has perfect teeth. Yes, blame the mother!), but now I'm nearly religious with it. I go pretty often now, like every 3 months, which makes the cleanings near-painless.

    Definitely go more than once in five years!!!

  3. Anonymous1:20 PM

    Never had the gel. I should ask for it. My hygenist is pretty good, but she talks all the time and her conversation always seems to invite answers, which I can't, of course, provide. The advil is a good idea - I should try that, too.

    Yes, a root canal is another animal entirely, where they actually remove all the nerves from the tooth and you end up with a kind of "dead" but preserved tooth. Because of this, a root canal also usually requires a crown, which is mucho bucks. Trust me, I've had 6 or 8 (so many I forget).

    - Aunt Snow

  4. Miflohny1:32 PM

    No cavities or fillings yet at 41, which is probably some kind of miracle. But my dentist says at my age I'll start to have other sorts of problems that occur from not flossing, in which case I'm screwed! Unless I have good genes in that department, he says - but there's no way to tell that ...

  5. Miflohny, the bad news is that the flossing is kind of key. Without flossing not only are the teeth at risk but we're more at risk for about a thousand other horrifying things that start with heart disease and go on from there.

    GET THE GEL, Aunt Snow. And the advil.