Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Everyone has things they're paranoid about, right?

(Please say yes...)

I, for example, tend to be paranoid about my teeth. I have been to the dentist 4 times this year already. I have a love/hate relationship with my teeth. I value oral hygiene, yet I hate the problems teeth can cause, and the accompanying expense. I hate cavities. And when I get a cavity I take the news as a personal failure. Granted, for awhile I wasn’t flossing as I should. And now the fear that my neglect is causing (not to mention will cause) problems for my teeth haunts me.

As a result, my current teeth cleaning regimen consists of brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day and rinsing with mouthwash twice a day. And no more of the wimpy Crest Pro Health rinse. I rinse with the hard stuff now. Only ADA approved for me.

The paranoia began with my last routine checkup in March. The dental hygienist kind of freaked me out when she told me I had potential problems. And then the dentist told me I had two cavities and one of my silver fillings was leaking, thus causing decay underneath. So I had to return for three fillings.

I complained about my dental woes to several people. When I complained to my sister that my mouth was a mess she said, “Dude, so is mine.” Somehow that made me feel better – knowing I wasn’t alone.

Although her response was the most helpful, my mom’s was my favorite. After telling her about my dental visit she said, “Honey, do you want to get a new dentist?” I loved that her solution for me was to find someone who would tell me my teeth were just fine. She wasn’t being sarcastic at all, trying to indirectly say I just need to deal with it -- she was dead serious. I know because she began to tell me how she wants a new dentist who won't scold her. Our dentist has been our family dentist for almost as long as I have lived and breathed.

I went back to my dentist for my fillings.

About a week later I noticed my teeth hurt on the right side of my mouth when I chewed. Naturally, I was afraid something was horribly wrong. The words "root canal" swam around in my brain for weeks. But it didn’t make sense because I just recently had a checkup. Wouldn’t my dentist be able to detect that right away?

I polled almost everyone I knew about root canals to see how their experience was. I even asked some people twice. I asked what their pain was like before they were officially diagnosed. How much it hurt after the procedure. How much it cost. I also looked it up on Wikipedia which, I soon learned, is not a good idea for me.

It’s been about two months since my dentist filled my teeth. Yesterday I went in to have him look at them to see if he could figure out why my upper tooth was being sensitive to hot and cold and chewing. I was not looking forward to this visit. The hygienist took some x-rays and then some other lady came in and did some tapping tests and cold air tests. She explained what she was doing. (Little did she know I was already too familiar with these tests because several weeks ago I visited my roommate’s dentist to see if he had anything new to tell me. He did the same tests with no painful results. Instead he just reshaped my teeth so my bite was more comfortable. Seemed to work for awhile, but now the sensitivity has returned, although it has now transferred from my bottom tooth to my upper tooth).

Anyway, there was some mild discomfort, but no “zing”. According to the dentist we were looking for a “zing”. (I’m never good at describing or qualifying pain). So after she did the tests, the dentist came in and did the tapping and the cold air tests. He also did a cold water test and an ice application. The worst was biting down on some strange plastic object in my mouth – over and over again. That will make anyone’s mouth tired – which is uncomfortable, but again, not sure if it is pain. It wasn’t pleasant, that’s for sure. At this point the dentist deduced that it was my bottom teeth that were giving me trouble -- not my top (according to my answers to the test). He then asked for a certain light instrument, shined it all over my tooth and called out different kinds of cracks in my tooth for his assistant to jot down as "things to watch." He assured me that a lot of people's teeth have cracks and not to worry. What I was worried about was how I came in complaining about my upper teeth but he thinks it's my bottom tooth. At this point I decided I was done with this exam and wasn't going to mention my concerns for the teeth on the other side of my mouth.

He told me to come back next week but I’m beginning to think maybe my teeth are just sensitive. A reliable source told me that sometimes teeth go through sensitivity every now and then. Maybe it does come and go. Honestly, I’ve gotten real good at chewing with certain teeth to avoid discomfort. Maybe I should try to make my teeth hurt by chewing all over. But to tell you the truth, just sitting here, completely still, I can make any tooth of mine hurt if I think about it hard enough.

Maybe Mom was right. Maybe what I really need is for someone to tell me there’s nothing wrong with my teeth. Except for I really think there's something wrong with my upper right teeth.


Steph said...

Yikes! I have an appointment with the dentist tomorrow and after reading your blog maybe I'll cancel it. I dont' think we give enough credit to teeth for being a totally weird part of our bodies.

Hilda said...

I hate teeth...they're my least favorite body part. But I'm also paranoid about them. I once had a horrible tooth ache accompanied by sensitivity (much like what you described). The dentist told me that my teeth were fine and that I was porobably under a lot of stress. I think he was right because my tooth ache went away.

Cameron's Corner said...

My sister and my son both complained about their teeth hurting for about 2 or 3 weeks after getting the flu.

If it makes you feel any better, on ONE visit to my dentist about 12 years ago, he found 10 (ten) cavities in my mouth. I've also had 3 root canals... one of which had to be redone 3 years after it was originally drilled.

By the way... I'll be the one to tell you, Laura, that there's absolutely nothing wrong with your teeth.

SRA said...

Dr. Badger. He's in the stake presidency (and is also now my dentist), so if he tells you there's a problem, it's as good as God telling you that...he IS your Priesthood leader, after all, right? Seriously, though, he is an excellent dentist & one of my favorite people on earth besides, so GO SEE HIM! Tell him I sent you ;)

Laura Lee said...

I'm afraid Dr. Badger is not on my preferred provider list.

Insurance is crucial when it comes to teeth. With a root canal, it's a difference between $500 and $1500. (Or something outrageous like that).

Annie said...

All I can say is, I feel your pain. And I'm really good at feeling sympathy pains for other people, it's a talent I have. So, I feel your tooth pain. :)

Johnny Metropolis said...

I have had 7 route canals. and the first five of them hurt really really bad. Then I got a new dentist and he said they shouldn't hurt at all. he pumped me full of juice, and I didn't feel any pain during the proceedure, I almost fell asleep. Now I don't mind the fact that I need another route canal.

Ilene said...

Wow, that was a mouthful.

Ha, ha.

You know what I think? I think your paranoia stems from the fact that your first family dentist turned out to be a pedophile or something like that, right?

I won't even tell you the last time I went to the dentist. Which is stupid because we pay for the insurance...

SRA said...

Are you sure you need a root canal? I would just go to Pres. Badger to get to the bottom of your problem, if you can. I understand the insurance dilemma, I'm just saying that if you can go find out from him what's going on (maybe you don't need any dramatic work done), that might help. Get some reliable advice and go from there.

Janey said...

I think everyone has sensitive teeth because are nerves up there are probably over worked. I get random pain in my teeth that circulates upper to lower. One day I am just sure I have a cavity and then the next the pain is gone- If your tooth has a filling, it is always apt to be sensitive to hot or cold- at least thats what I have been told and can testify of myself. I haven't been to the dentist in a year because I don't want them to tell me whats wrong! Oh and root canals or the one that I have had wasn't too bad- I didn't enjoy the grinding drilling noises but as long as your dentist is good at giving local, it shouldn't hurt-if it does I would tell them to shoot you up with some more!

Morty said...

I go to Dr. Jeff Hanzon in Riverton, so it's a bit of a drive, but he's the best and I've gone to him for years. I'm not sure if he still does this, but he used to give free teeth whitening supplies and every Christmas he sends me a $5 grocery or gas card. He even has Internet you can use while you wait and he lets you watch tv while he works his magic. I'm no dentist, but I do think you have a great smile!

Oswald McKisson said...

It is an awful experience to have dental problems especially when that dental problem is tooth decay. The pain can really disturb your sleep. A lot of people are afraid of tooth extraction because of the stigma of pain attached to it. But today, sedation dentistry is available for those who fear the pain of such a procedure.