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"If you smile at me, I will understand"

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

(Crosby, Stills and Nash reference)

Today was teeth day at the local torture shop, I mean dentist. My dentist is a truly wonderful man with an even better example of humanity in his primary hygenist, Pam. But it does not make the trip any more enjoyable, for all of their wonderful attributes as humans, as professional caregivers in the best sense of the phrase.

No, it is, alas, still a place of dread, especially since the cancer thing started showing up, and especially after the radiation blasts for seven weeks.

They were there from the start, even before my first operation, for head and neck cancer. They were charged with giving me the cleaning of my life along with taking care of any issues that might remotely become problems if allowed to exist beyond the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, since it would be so much easier to remove such problems before the treatment than after.

Since anything in my mouth would literally cook during rads, they broke my cleaning down into four quadrants to make especially sure that I was thoroughly removed of tartar and embedded food particles and whatever they find during their explorations of that cave called a mouth. That is to say, I had four separate days of cleaning and I am really not so foul-mouthed as you might guess from that.

I consider them friends, expensive friends, but friends nonetheless. Pam likes to talk while she has her equipment in my mouth, if you know what I mean, and I hope you do, and will oddly ask me questions while said equipment is busily working away, as if I would even dare to nod or shake my head 'no' under the circumstances. As with many of us, of course, I sometimes do try, and she stops what she is doing to ask what I just said.

I SAID TAKE YOUR EQUIPMENT OUT MY MOUTH.

No, I don't say that. I shake my head and coax with my hands to continue. Or I give a semi-intelligible response and we, hopefully, move on. She has been known, even today, to stop the process complete, have me rinse, so that we can complete the thought.

Today, the wife and I went in together, apart. That is, we drove separate cars for appts at the same time. I do not know why, unless she was once again resorting to the one tried and true method of getting me to the doctor on time: putting a personal trace on me.

We made it to the Teeth Church on time.

I must tell you that when my wife made our mutual appts, she made sure that I 'got' Pam, as she knew our history and knew that I liked her leaning over me with those ample, uh, pieces of equipment. Seriously, she knew that I was most comfortable with Pam and that Pam knew my history, such as it is.

Very thoughtful, as always, of my wife. And then I noticed the FINE young lady that was treating her! A method to her kindness :).

I said to Pam, when herded back into THE ROOM, that her worst nightmare had arrived. She could not understand me, so imagine how well I do with tools in my mouth. When she finally figured it out, she countered that she looked forward to my visits (challenges that they are, I'm sure she was thinking) and that we should do this more often.

The thing is, I dreaded this one more than all others combined, even the quadruple prelim match described above. Why? Radiation to the face tends to do a number on teeth, given enough of a dose repeated a sufficient number of times. I have experienced some chipping from the very beginning, and now, six years later, two of my teeth have chipped sufficiently that they now resemble fangs (for all you vampire-loving females out there, I'm your man!). I seriously considered they may want to remove them all, and I cannot picture myself toothless at the same time I wonder how anyone could build dentures that would fit my unique (somewhat unique) circumstances.

So, I am sweating bullets, but only on the inside, and when we finally get underway, Pam advises that this is going much better than in the past (there was a time when I neededd a shot before they could clean, such was the exposure of nerves, I suppose; there was a time when they had to send me to a specialist for panoramic xrays, such was the inabillity to open the mouth enough for xrays). She managed to get some shots of the teeth with a couple of new gadgets they have, and she was pleased with the relative lack of tartar buildup and all of the other evil stuff they expect.

I was feeling good. And then Doctor Teeth came in and had a look and started rattling off numbers followed by either "filling" or "out". When he was done (it was staccato, it was machine gun fire) he asked what I thought and I said "I have no idea what those numbers are, but it doesn't sound good."

He said he was going to fill or top or re-enamel, whatever, a bunch of teeth, and send me off to Panorama Red to take out three or four while under sedation.

I was not feeling so good.

But at least I would not...yet...be Gummy Bear.

Pam gave me a new tool, a sort of tiny drill bit on a rubber handle (actually a LOT like her cleaning/debriding tools, but friendlier looking) and said I could use this to get to those tiny places that a brush can't get to. She also encouraged me to continue using an electric brush, after I wondered if that was causing enamel abrasion.

I'M going to use a cleaning/debriding tool? Well yeah. Gummy Bear is NOT in my future, not if I can help it.

Keep those pearly whites pearly and white, folks!

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1238
Joined: Aug 2009

When I was diagnosed my Oncologist tried to contact my dentist for a consultation and was never able to make contact. I had been a patient for many years but it was apparent he was not well although he never let on. The man limped very badly. Many times it was difficult just to make an appointment. Things were progressing very quickly and I was referred to a hospital dentist. Same kind of treatment as you, multiple appointments to get my teeth scrubbed clean, x-rays, recommendations for extractions and just the most comprehensive care I could imagine. My old dentist never even came close to this type of cleaning and care. I was a weekly patient during a post treatment extraction where he had to constantly tighten a rubber band. We got to know each other well. Three years later I still go and so does my entire family. Wife and I sometimes have adjacent appointments. I love them to death, a staff of three to whom I try and at least bring coffee once in a while. I do appreciate them.

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