Dental doubt

Teeth x-ray

I wish we were like sharks and constantly shed our teeth for new ones. This would probably make orthodontics more difficult, but I sooooooooo wish I could get rid of my current teeth and declare a do-over. I did not take good care of my teeth in my youth and I am forever paying for it. Or paying for it every six months when an old filling needs to be replaced or a new one appears. I’ve had two crowns, one root canal and so many fillings that I have literally lost count.

I have my biannual cleaning this week and I’m more anxious about it than usual because my dentist seems a little overzealous. They have one of those new cameras that lets you take close-up pictures of teeth, and I’ve read that it can lead to unnecessary work. I wonder how many of the fillings they recommend definitely need to be done and which ones we could wait on and watch.

Well, Jennette, why don’t you get a new dentist? Well, disembodied voice in my head, this is my new dentist. I saw another dentist the first year after I moved here, but I wasn’t happy with their services. They treated a lot of kids, so there was always someone crying and screaming during my visit (who wasn’t me). The receptionist wasn’t very friendly, and the office decor wasn’t that welcoming either. They also made me wait 30-40 minutes for each appointment. I can understand that the schedule might fall behind and you’d be forced to wait 10,15, or hell, even 20 minutes. But when you’ve made me wait 30 minutes you really should have scheduled me for the next appointment. And if you do it more than once, it’s a systematic problem, not an anomaly.

So, I ditched that dentist and started seeing the new one. The office is much nicer, they never make we wait long, and the staff if friendly. However, the old dentist only recommended 2-3 fillings in my year there, whereas the new dentist has recommended a total of 7-8 in the past year. So, yeah, something’s going on here. Either the old dentist was crap, the new dentist is too eager, or I’ve been brushing my teeth with acid. I really don’t feel like seeking out a third opinion at this stage. There are only so many dentists in this town.

Instead, I ask the dentist which ones need to be done right away and which ones can wait awhile. It still makes me uneasy because I don’t want to neglect a problem that’s just going to get worse down the line, but I’d like to keep what’s left of me teeth if I can. I think the reason I’m unusually anxious about my dental appointment is that I’m 100% certain he’s going to recommend fillings, whereas in the past I could always keep my fingers crossed that I’d get the all clear for another six months.

I long for the day when science allows us to grow replacement teeth for transplant instead of messing with fillings and drills. That, or maybe they’ll create a stem cell paste that you can use to grow new enamel. I think something like this will happen eventually, probably in my lifetime, though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford it. If they can’t do that, I’d at least like them to genetically engineer plaque that doesn’t destroy your teeth, but helps strengthen them. Until then it’s just me, my dentist and my dental discount card doing our best to save what’s left of my teeth.

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Jenn • October 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I’ve had some of the same issues with dentists. I’d go for my cleaning, and every single time, he’d say I had a cavity. I switched dentists, and the new dentist told me the old dentist had been feeling the natural bumps and grooves in my teeth. Good luck!

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Jenn • October 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

@Jenn – *Filling, not feeling. I think that would be an entirely different dental story!

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Natalie • October 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I had my first root canal maybe two years ago, five hour-long appointments with my strong gag reflex … I’ve been too scared to go back since. I know I must.

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Sarah • October 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Have you ever considered getting a sealant applied to your molars? My parents had it applied to mine when I was about 7. It is only good for a few years. I saw a dentist about 3 years ago that asked when I got my sealant done. I told them about 7. I am 28 now. So I got my moneys worth.

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Julie from Australia • October 22, 2012 at 5:58 am

I understand your hesitation. I last went to my dentist years and years ago and haven’t been back since he said I would need “all these” fillings – around $600.00 worth. Have not had any pain at all from these “supposed” cavities in all that time. I’m just vigilant at keeping my teeth clean. I will go back if one of my teeth worries me, but not until then.

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Nicole H. • October 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I’d definitely go for another dentist. Mine has all the fancy cameras, but she is very conservative about fillings and likes to wait and see how things go. And rather than suggest a root canal, she’s put in a fluoride filling that’s holding up quite well.

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jAMIE • November 5, 2012 at 6:18 am

I had similar problems, when I was pregnant with my son my teeth went to crap and I have had tons of cavities since then. Then my dental insurance did something funny and started covering 4 cleanings a year, and I figured why not and started getting my teeth cleaned four times a year, for two years now no fillings. If you can give that a try, more cleanings less fillings- or at least for me.

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Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

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