evannichols (evannichols) wrote,

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Wherein I Go To The Dentist

I remember one time when we were young, my older brother accused me of being too conservative, insisting that I never wanted to try anything new or different. At the time, I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to say “Well, duh! Science tells us that 97.3% of all change is Bad!”¹ No wonder we fear change.

Couple that with a general dislike of people poking me in the mouth with sharp, pointy objects, and you can see why I’ve been putting off going to the dentist. I signed up on the company dental plan so I could investigate orthodontia; possibly getting the crowded sections of my teeth a bit more orderly without paying thousands of dollars out of pocket. But my previous dentist wasn’t part of the network, so that meant a new dentist.

Between signing up and making that first appointment, I heard some less-than-favorable stories about the dental service provider, which decreased my already minimal excitement. So it took a cut in my gums to inspire me to finally schedule an exam.

They had a cancellation for three days later; which was good. Yesterday, when I left BHFT for the appointment, it took me almost twenty minutes to drive five blocks; which was bad (still don’t know why the streets were so jammed up). Considering I was looking for any sign that I should just bag it, I came close to heading back to work. Still, I pressed on, and the next three miles took no more time than they should. Parking was easy, as was filling out the new-patient forms.

There were things I liked about the whole experience. The Dental Assistant who took my x-rays and did the preliminary check had a fabulous Irish accent. She mentioned that she lived in Texas for ten years, and I was sorely tempted to say “Yeah, I guessed that from your accent,” but I didn’t know if she’d think I was being funny or was merely stupid.

I also got introduced to the wide-scan x-ray (I assume most people have experienced this and I’m just out of touch with Modern Dental Equipment, but I’ll explain anyway): One stands at the machine, grabs two handles, and bites down on a metal rod, while the Irish Dental Assistant adjusts a brace against your forehead. Then you hold very still and watch in the mirror while the x-ray robot lowers down by your left ear with some very SF-movie sound-effects, slides opens, and revolves around your head. For some reason I found this hilarious, and had to keep from laughing. It was not easy. Yet I can’t really explain WHY I found it so amusing. Must just be me.

Anyway, the resulting wide-arc image is about 4”x10”, which made my mouth look like a shark’s. That amused me, too. And the other good news was that the dentist didn’t find anything that gave him concern.

The downside is that the earliest cleaning appointment I could schedule is at the end of December. And I didn’t care for the layout of the office. The exam areas were a row of chairs with partial walls between them, which felt more like the workstations at a hair salon than a medical facility. From where I sat, I couldn’t see much of the patient in the next chair over, but I could see the hygienist, and could hear everything, from conversation to cleaning tools.

I also got the impression that the company’s business plan called for the absolute minimum amount of time to be devoted to each activity. The staff didn’t quite rush me from step to step, but there was no sense of methodical thoroughness. The dentist did answer all the questions I asked, but vanished the second we were done. So it wasn’t a bad experience, but I can’t say it inspired a huge amount of confidence. For just prophylaxis and check-up that pace is probably fine, but is that how it goes when one is having actual work done?

So I’m thinking I may go back to my Dentist. It means paying out of pocket, but what I spent on annual premiums should cover two exams and cleanings. I rarely have more expenses beyond what would be the insurance deductible anyway. Yes, if I need major dental work, I’d have to pay for it all. Even so, I think I’d rather spend a little more for dental care I’m comfortable with than save money on budget care I don’t trust. Not all bargains are worth the price.

¹ No citation.
Tags: dentist

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