Little known fact about me: I
have had horrible teeth.
I have amelogenesis impecfecta. Which is a fancy way of saying ‘soft teeth’ – I inherited the disorder from my Dad, who had dentures at an early age. It’s definitely treatable – – with regular visits to the dentist.
My problem? Well, it’s two-fold, really. One is my previously discussed irrational fear of going to the dentist. I’ve had some really awful dentists in the past – – just some downright horrible experiences. Couple that with a pretty low pain tolerance, and I’m just a mess even when it’s time to go for a simple cleaning.
Second – as a single mother for the past 14 years… there were many years where the finances were pretty tight. The Ex was supposed to provide health and dental for the kids… and he never did… so the kids dental care always came before my own, in terms of making the financial decision of ‘who goes first’. The kids always went – – I never did.
This, of course, suited me just fine – – because the lack of dental insurance gave me the perfect excuse not to go, right? I could martyr myself all over the place! Single Mom! Kids need it before I do! Self-sacrifice! It was a ruse too perfect for the person paranoid of dentists!!
Until – I couldn’t ignore the teeth any longer. Old fillings came loose. Weak teeth got chipped and broken. I would ignore them until the absolute last minute and my head was exploding from pain and infection. The only dental trips I’ve made within the last decade were only the emergent ones.
Over the past few months, I’ve been living with this tremendous pain in my mouth from two teeth in my lower right jaw that were giving me some pretty bad problems. I would ignore it.. ‘self-medicate’.. and it would go away for a little while. Then it would rear it’s ugly head again – – only worse this time than last.
Two weeks ago, I finally broke down. I had heard of a dentist in my area that practices Sedation Dentistry. They will put you to sleep and perform days worth of dental work in one office visit! It sounded perfect to me!
I still have no dental insurance – – but am in a much better financial position these days, than in days gone past – so I called and made an appointment.
Dr. Matera is really a wonderful man. As a dentist, he is very patient, gentle, smart – – and he listens to all my tales of woe (the poor guy!). He did the initial exam and then sat down with me for about an hour telling me all of the things he’d have to do to my mouth to get things back into shape again.
He broke the bad news. I would need 10 root canals. TEN!! Plus about 4 cavities that I would need drilled and filled. I had three active tooth abscesses going on. The good news was – – he could save all of my natural teeth. I wasn’t going to lose one of them!
The bad news was… for everything that needed doing? The bill would be about $22K.
We talked for a long time that day. He told me that there were some ‘urgent’ things that he would like to do before I went on my cruise – so that I wouldn’t be in the middle of the ocean when one of those problems decided to erupt. I agreed. I had my first three root canals done on that first visit. After those were done, he sat me down again and told me there were 6 others that he’d like to do before I leave. We talked… and decided it would be the best thing… so I scheduled the appointments.
Today – I had an appt at 7:30am and had three more root canals done. On Wednesday of this week – – I have another appointment to have three more done.
That takes care of 9 of the 10 needed before my trip. Holy cow!
Am I nuts?
I feel better, though. I’m not in a lot of pain at all – except for the feeling that my mouth has been stretched around the earth and back! Physically, I feel tons better, with the infections clearing up. And I keep looking into the mirror and smiling – – thrilled as heck to see a perfect row of nice white teeth. (they don’t use any silver for fillings or crowns).
By the time I go on my trip – I will have shelled out approximately $10K for dental work, so far. My checkbook is beginning to hate me. It hasn’t gotten exercise like this in quite some time! But, I have to say – – if I was going to spend a good chunk of money on something – – I’m glad to be doing this.
For being so paranoid and worried about the dentist – – I actually am looking forward to getting all of this work done because I’m feeling better and better as the days go by. And I’m pretty critical about dentists – – but Dr. Matea is just wonderful. I’m feeling like a new person here with all this work getting done, finally. It feels great!
I’m becoming a dental-nazi now, though. Urging my mom to go see him. Urging Chris to go see him. From a person who used to avoid the dentist office like the plague – – that sure is something 😀