Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dental Bullshit

I finally got around to going to the dentist, for the first time in almost two years. I got a recommendation for a guy whose office is in Burbank, within walking distance from my work. I crossed my fingers that I wouldn't have to have a root canal or anything gross and painful.

It turns out that this dentist is a one-man shop. And by one man, I mean he's the dentist, hygienist and x-ray dude rolled into one. Other than the receptionist (who happens to be his wife), it's all him. This seemed sorta charming, Mayberry-esque at first, but I've learned that this basically means that what typically gets done in one visit gets spread over several visits.

I've been to him twice now. The first time he took some x-rays and asked me to come back so that he could show me the results and do a cleaning. Okay, fine. Today was my second visit and lo and behold we hardly got anything done. He went over my x-rays and said I needed to have an oral surgeon tell me if I needed my wisdom teeth out. He also told me that a couple old fillings needed to be replaced. Okay, fine. But did he start cleaning my teeth, uh, NO.

Then he went about going between my teeth and assigning numbers to them (anywhere between 2 and 6), which, as he later explained, indicated how far down he had to push before he hit the bone. WTF? Has anyone had this done? Apparently, my gums might be receding (6 is not good) and he might have to do a deep cleaning, which would require novacaine. He asked me if anyone had ever done this numbers thing with me before (I said no) and he said, well, it's very important because you really got to clean that out otherwise you start losing your teeth. Huh? This is news to me. Have all my other dentists been crap or is this new guy crap? I'm thinking the latter.

So I'm pissed. First and foremost I'm pissed because I have better things to do than visit this guy every week for the next four weeks. Apparently, the two filings he wants to replace are on both sides of my face and he said he would need two visits since he can't novacaine up both sides in one visit (huh?). Then another visit for the regular cleaning. And God knows, perhaps even another if a deep cleaning with novacaine is necessary.

Tell me this is bullshit. I mean, is he trying to make money through repeated visits? I really don't like this guy. I don't even know if he's good or bad because he hasn't actually done anything, but I still don't like him. I'm taking a stand and now in the market (again) for a dentist.


Octopus Grigori said...

Sounds pretty stupid to me. Sounds like he's trying to arrange to have you in there every week for the next four months.

Run away!

Ameloblast said...

Periodontal probing (the numbers) should be done on a regular basis and is negligence if it isn't.

I would still look for another office though. Unless you're retired and have nothing better to do with your time, you'd be better off at an office that is run more efficiently.

junebee said...

Oh, I always do poorly on the gum-o-meter too. But all these things should be done in one visit. I would find another dentist just for that reason.

Anonymous said...

as a dentist, i will tell you 6 is NOT a good thing one bit. you need a deep cleaning if you have a lot of 5s or higher.

but i also think you should find a more efficient office. i would do it all in one visit, if possible. while you are numb for the fillings, i would do the cleaning. if both fillings are on the bottom, he may have a point, though. I don't get lower jaws numb bilaterally, tho some do.

creative-type dad said...

First- find another dentist. Sounds like your may be patient #4 out of 10. The wife and I now go to a small practice (we hated the "large" place for years because it was a farm) but she has 2 other people in the office.

Second- That deep cleaning isn't as bad as it's made out to be.

Third- yeah, fillings go bad after 10-15 years. I had a few silver replaced with some matching tooth colored ones. But I wasn't pressured to get them done.

chanchow said...

golly, i didn't know i had so many dentists checking this blog. right on! thanks everyone for the advice.

i've since calmed down a bit. i'm definitely gonna get a new dentist. i asked around for recommendations. of course, all the dentists i got were out of network, but i'm OK with that.

i also asked about five of my friends about this periodontal probing and only half of them have had it done before. i suppose it'll be more common as we get older...

Anonymous said...

Boy, you sure swear a lot in this entry. I guess dentistry can do that to a person. I have receding gums too. Once my dentist pointed it out, I became obsessed with it and started noticing receding gums everywhere. Look at Schwarzenneger's gums. The man rarely parts his lips now.

Get a soft toothbrush and don't apply much force when brushing!

hh said...

god, i've had that number thing on the gums...i first had it done by a dentist about 8 years ago, by some fancy pants dentist in san francisco. and i just thought it was cos she was fancy and young and new or whatever. but subsequent dentists i've had since have all done it.

i've also had my silver fillings redone a few years ago...

anyway, yea, you should try to find a more efficient office with more staff. i love my dental hygienist, which is why i go this particular dental office. my dentist there is just ok. who has an awesome dentist anyway? just as long as he doesn't cheat you or hurt you, i think that makes a good dentist. what really makes a dentist the "best"? anyway, good luck...

JEM said...

Ha! I just had periodontal surgery last Thursday precisely for this reason -- receding gum line. Dentists have been scaring me with this stuff since I was 14 9(back when I had braces and never flossed). The no flossing thing is what did it (well, that and the genes -- periodontal disease is hereditary).

I was really freaked out at first because the dentist told me I had a 9 around 1 tooth. A NINE!!!!! And it hurts like hell when she pokes me. But the periodontist was pretty cool. I took 2 sedatives under my tongue and was mellow in no time, was listening to an ipod shuffle full of waves, birds, frogs, and the likes. I was totally awake during the procedure. They grafted some bone under my gums, but it's a 50/50 chance that it will work, otherwise, I will have to get an implant! Oh geez. But at least he didn't cut my gum off -- I didn't want that.

chanchow said...

JEM: Is that a 9 out of 10? Agh! Yea, it hurt when he was poking at me, too. Glad to hear you didn't have to have your gum cut off. I'm going to start flossing twice daily now. I always thought flossing was a conspiracy between dentists and floss makers, but I guess I shouldn't take my chances.

Anonymous said...

In dental terms you appear to have a "low dental-IQ". This is not meant to be a slam but you also appear to distrust things that you don't understand. It doesn't have to be that way.

The internet is full of sites that you can use to educate yourself and make an informed decision about your treatment.

Although this guy may not be super efficient, he sounds to me like he is the best dentist you have been to in a while.

Every dentist I know got into the field to help people. Comments like yours hurt these people deeply, even though they understand that they are due to your own ignorance.

Here's some facts for you to chew on: 1. flossing PREVENTS dental problems. 2. dentist make LESS money if you have no problems.

Brushing without flossing is like showering without cleaning between your legs.

Think about a typical molar. It has a top, a left and right side, a front, and a back. Five sides. When (if) you brush, you clean the top, left and right. If you don't floss, the two sides of your tooth that are the biggest food traps never get cleaned. The trapped food decays and releases acid and other toxins onto your teeth and gums. But hey, you don't have to believe my can do your own research on the internet. Its as rewarding as blogging.

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