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My Reluctant Brush ... with the Dentist.

Toofus!!Anyone who says the patient communities on the web don't have a positive influence on health outcomes is out of their mind; the only reason I went to the dentist yesterday is because of Chris Angell's guest post.  His admission of being slack when it came to the dental department has been in my head for months, and it was his post that made me finally call my dentist.

Because I did NOT want to fall victim to decAY1c ... aka my diabetes eating my teeth beyond recognition.

So when December rolled around, and I knew that my new insurance included dental and vision, I set up a bunch of necessary appointments in the new year.  (Which explains why, in the first two weeks of January, I found myself at the eye doctor, dentist, gynecologist, and primary care doc.  Happy new year ... here are all my bits and pieces.  Oh, and my money.) 

Going to the OB/GYN is a nerve-wracking experience (mostly because it's just super-awkward), but never something I put off.  And eye dilations take up a chunk of time and render my eyeballs useless for a few hours, but I've always kept up on that, too, in efforts to keep tabs on my slightly-compromised eyes.  But the dentist has always been an appointment I keep meaning to make, and then rarely follow through on.

Honestly? Because it hurts.  (wah.)  I have inherited some very sensitive teeth, and their sensitivity has always made me squeamish about letting the dentist poke around with their metal tools.  I'm fine with the daily pokes and prods of type 1 diabetes, but when it comes to my highly-sensitive teeth ... I buckle to the trepidation.  

But it was time.  Well past time.  So I made the dental exam appointment, wedged between a few other medical appointments, hoping I wouldn't notice it was coming and cancel it.  Which is how I ended up at the dentist yesterday afternoon, paper bib around my neck and my knuckles white from clenching the arms of the chair. 

"Hi, I'm Dr. Fangs [clearly her real name].  It's nice to meet you!"

"Hi, I'm Kerri.  And I am pretty nervous about this appointment, so I'm sorry in advance for being jumpy."

She laughed.  "It's completely fine.  If anything causes you discomfort, we'll stop and make sure you're comfortable before we move forward."

And that was enough for me.  I've had dentists in the past who told me to "focus past the pain" and "What - this hurts?  This doesn't hurt."  (But I have also had wonderful ones.)  As much as I want to believe them, it doesn't work out and I end up with more anxiety about the next appointment than I did when I walked in for that one.  So to have this new dentist acknowledge that my teeth might be a bit on the sensitive side, and she wanted to make sure she was able to do her job without causing me discomfort ... I pretty much wanted to hug her right away.

Overall, my delayed dental exam wasn't an issue.  (I'm a teeth-brushing fanatic, as evidenced by the tooth brush I keep in my purse almost at all times, and the fact that I've been caught brushing my teeth in hotel lobby bathrooms during conferences.  I do NOT like anything other than a minty-mouth.  Maybe it's because the taste of high blood sugars - high mouth? - is so sticky and sour.  /digression)  No cavities were found, no gum issues were detected, and I've already scheduled my follow-up appointments.  Despite having avoided The Chair for a good two years, I made it back in time to keep decay at bay.

But oh, the irony of taking my daughter to her first dentist appointment this morning.  "You will love it!  They look at your teeth and check to make sure everything in your mouth is comfortable and good.  And at the end of the appointment, they'll give you a toothbrush!"

"I love the dentist!" she beamed.

"Oh, me, too!" I said, lying through my no-longer-ignored teeth.

Comments

Ok, Ok, I'm calling the dentist right now. I've put it off for years but I am calling as soon as I finish typing this. :)

We have another thing in common! I'm petrified of going to the dentist and my husband always makes our appointments as a family every 6 mos AT the office after an appt so we can't chicken out. We got to a special practice that specializes in those with fears like mine and I trust my nice dentist but I'm still alwasys scared. We skipped for 2 yrs once and ended up with 14 cavities for 3 of us. 6 for me (I'd only had 3 in my LIFE till then!), 5 for my husband, 3 for the son who was 6 at the time. We had him put to sleep to avoid fears as he's already autistic and why add one more thing? After that we are very religious about it all and have only had 1 cavity each adult since. I also have very sensitive gums and spit blood into the sink after every cleaning no matter how good I brush/floss! I'm very glad my kids aren't scared and my son (now 9.5) holds MY hand. It even helps me be brave by bringing the kids in with us. I don't want them to be scared so I act like it's easy peasy mac n cheesy :P

I'm glad you went and that it went so well!

Oh, do I HATE the dentist! It comes from being traumatized by my original dentist as a kid for YEARS before my parents figured out that I needed to see a pediatric dentist. I saw the sweetest, nicest, most caring dentist who always made sure to never hurt me. Even though I no longer see her and am back to my original dentist (because the pediatric dentist is expensive and I was forced to switch at 16), she got me over my fear. Even though I push off going to the dentist, I'm no longer petrified.

Kerri, I'm totally with you on the sensitive teeth thing. EVERYTHING hurts my teeth! Except, unlike you, I also inherited terrible teeth, so I'm constantly having multiple cavities filled at the same time, no matter how careful I am.

But seriously, maybe you want to move to NY, because my dentist makes sure there's warm water in the machine before they start cleaning my teeth because I can't handle cold water.

Congratulations on your healthy teeth and wonderful appointment!

just got back from another perio-maintenance appt. i asked them how often i'd need to return (after a year of appts every three months) and the hygienist said, "well, periodontal disease is like diabetes..." and i said, "yeah..."

Even with everything else in two, the dentist is STILL my second-most hated appointment [the ophthalmologist is my very most hated appointment!]. I don't even know why, either. I think I need to adopt Birdy's attitude :]. Did she actually love it?

dumb things dental hygenists have said to me
"you don't have fruity smelling breath, like most diabetics"
how was I supposed to respond,
I just said "oh, really, well, thank you" (???)

Oh, the dentist... kind of like the modern-day boogie man to me. Not a fan. But, here's to the next generation for being all happy and beaming about the dentist and good dental care. There's that... :)

you're welcome. (also, good for you. i'm not at all bitter that your neglect caused you far less suffering than mine)

Not diabetes related, but I once had a hygenist say "and now we're going to check if you have tongue cancer" as she lifted my tongue up with a cotton swab. I said, "you might want to find a less stressful way of saying that."

It's strange, sometimes, what makes us like our dentists. After moving to my current home two years ago, I cross-referenced my local-dentist list with my insurance-network list and came up with a guy whose office was pretty local, so I called and made an appointment (how else do you choose a dentist?).

When I walked in the office, I saw his diploma hanging on the wall... FROM THE SAME COLLEGE I WENT TO (though twenty-some-odd years earlier)! I knew then and there that I would love this guy forever.

There's nothing overwhelming about his dentistry to speak of, but that obscure commonality makes me feel so much more comfortable.

Oh, how I hate that sweet, dry, high blood-sugar mouth!

there actually IS a dentist named Dr. Fang in the North of Boston area! I crack up every time I see his sign!

LOL! Maybe we should have a contest for the Type 1 who stayed away from the dentist longest? I made 15 years once! Not any more, though I do get forearm cramps when siting in the chair.

Hi:) Can i ask you about your "slightly compromised eyes"? I went to my eye doc yesterday and he said i have a slight leak in my left eye. he is not doing anything, but now i need to go back in 4 months to see what happens with it. been going to him since i was 5, and i am 35 now. he does specialize in people with diabetes, but i am totally freaked out. and was curious when i read your post. I have been diabetic since i was 2 and this is my first real scare:( thanks for your posts, always makes me feel better to read them and know i am not the only one out there.

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