I’m not a dentist hater. I just haven’t had good experiences overall. As a child, I had a dentist who had the world’s worst breath (back when the face mask was an inconvenience and unnecessary). I have issues with local anesthesia in that they don’t work on me effectively (which apparently is a documented fact for redheads, although few doctors/dentists actually believe me). And, about 14 years ago, a dentist informed me that as a small child I must have been hit in the face (no, I do not recall this event) and 2 of my front teeth were dead and would eventually need to be replaced with crowns.
About 2 years ago, my last dentist attempted to replace one of those teeth with a crown. I didn’t particularly like the guy but he had come in on both a Labor Day and one night at 9:30 when I needed emergency work done, so I stuck with him. His office appeared to double as the headquarters of a religious cult, evidenced by the ongoing quoting of scripture and background music promising my entrance into the gates of Heaven. (Don’t get me wrong. I like God. We have a relationship. I’d just prefer that my dentist not act as a conduit.)
Anyway, the crown sucked. The color sucked and the placement on my gum line sucked. He had been argumentative about the color and for a while, I let it go. In the interim, one day, I’m laying in his chair while he performs a root canal without the needed dosage of anesthesia. It starts bleeding profusely and he decides to pack it up and deal with it later. I was pissed and wanted out of the chair. Before he let me go, he started a conversation with his assistants that went like this:
“So tomorrow, when they do the surgery, they are going to put my head in a halo like this…..(at this point, he clamps his hands around the top of my head to give the gals a visual)….then they are going to shoot lasers into my brain. And the craziest part is I’ll be back to work on Thursday (which was 2 days later).”
To make a long story short and get on to the Lupus, my dentist had been diagnosed with Melanoma, which had metastasized into his brain. He was working on patients while undergoing treatment and continued to until a few weeks before he died. I never let him touch me again.
Fast Forward to this past spring, when I went in for my cleaning. I will say I have always loved the hygienist and she really is the only reason I stayed. I finish up with her and then go in for a quick check up with the new dentist, who was a young woman. I explained how I knew I needed to get my front tooth crowned and that I was unhappy with the one that had been done 2 years earlier. She offered to replace that one for free and do the other one at the same time. And so the story really begins.
Round #1: The first set of crowns she installed in my mouth looked like they had been leftovers found at a bargain bin for misshapen, bulbous teeth. I was completely dumbfounded when they “installed” them and insisted that they looked fine. The couldn’t get them to sit properly against my bottom teeth after multiple attempts to adjust the backs and I left with a bite that had my jaw sitting slightly off center. I got home, took one look in the mirror and called them and told them I was coming back in to get them fixed.
I show back up and tactfully break it to this lady dentist that these were not “my teeth”. They didn’t look like my teeth and I can’t even figure out how she could say they look fine. After several minutes, she admits they are wrong and offers to redo for free. She wants me happy….
Round #2: I make an appointment to have new impressions made with the actual toothmaker, an exotic man named Sergio. Apparently, Sergio is so exotic that he doesn’t show up. Thankfully, I had brought in my bleaching molds to show them as further proof that the Round #1 teeth did not slightly resemble the teeth God gave me. They decided to have Sergio make the second pair of crowns from the molds and call me if he had any questions. I never got a call.
A few weeks later, in come my brand new teeth which actually look like my God-given teeth. They were a tiny bit smaller and again there were massive issues around getting the bite proper but I thought we finally had it after about an hour. With a few weeks, the front crown began to chip. And it became obvious that the backs of the crowns were polished enough.
BACKTRACK…During this time, the day after Round #1, they had me using a special alcohol based mouthwash because there had been alot of bleeding. Over a period of time, I started to develop a dry mouth and my tongue was a little swollen. I thought it would pass. After finishing up with the special mouthwash, I continued to use a regular mouthwash but the dry mouth symptoms only seemed to get worse. I started looking online for possible reasons and none of them really applied to me but I figured I should call my doctor. He prescribed a special mouth rinse just in case I had an infection and it got a little better. I started to think that maybe I really screwed up the ph balance in my mouth and that, in combination with the poorly polished, scratchy crowns were only making things worse. At this point, I call the dentist for a third attempt to fix my teeth.
Round #3: I show up at the dentist and wait for 1/2 hour in the chair. While I’m sitting there I hear her confront a teenage boy about the fact that she had heard through the grapevine that it was requested that she not perform work on him, instead, only the other dentist (which was dentist #1’s son) would be allowed to fill his cavities. This boy stumbles through an explanation that he wasn’t sure why but it was his mom’s decision and it had something to do with work she had done on his sister. Then, the dentist calls for the mother to come in and through a Spanish translator, confronts her. So I’m thinking…..this is going to be fun telling her she needs to redo my crowns again.
Then she walks into my room and asks why I’m here. I start to tell her about the crown chipping and the dry mouth. From this point forward, I’d like to use the actual dialogue so you can fully appreciate what went down. Anything in parenthesis is what I’m thinking during the conversation.
Me: ….and then I started developing dry mouth that got really bad.
Dentist: STOP RIGHT THERE! Your crowns having nothing to do with the dry mouth!
Me: Ok. Well, it started the day after you installed the first set of crowns.
Dentist: Well, that has nothing to do with this. It’s probably a side effect of your medication.
Me: A medication that I’ve been on for 5 years? You’re trying to tell me that I just happened to develop a side effect five years later on the day after you installed my crowns? You’re saying there is no way I could have developed some kind of infection in my mouth as a result of them being installed?
Dentist: No. It’s not possible. It’s your medication. Or you grind your teeth, don’t you?
Me: Ummm…no, I don’t grind my teeth. I’ve never been accused of grinding my teeth.
Dentist: Let me see your mouth (I open my mouth). You clench your teeth…. (What the Fuck?)
Me: Ok, all I can tell you is that my doctor prescribed me a oral rinse to rule out an infection which is helping a little but the crowns aren’t polished and are agitating my mouth.
Dentist: What? Why would your doctor do that? You don’t have an infection in your mouth. I’m calling your doctor. What’s his name and number? This is probably a systemic issue. You could have an autoimmune disorder like Lupus. Are you feeling tired? (Wait a minute…in the last 3 minutes I’ve gone from having a side effect of a sleep medication I’ve taken for 5 years to grinding my teeth to being diagnosed with Lupus???? By the dentist???)
Me: I’m not anymore tired than I’ve ever been. I’ll call my doctor.
Dentist: NO! This needs to be handled doctor to doctor (Oh, so now your doctorate in dentistry makes you a medical doctor?)
Me: Listen, I’m not going to argue with you. I want the backs of the crowns polished.
Dentist: You need new crowns, You chipped the crown (no….your staff adjusted the crown to the point where it’s paper thin and it chipped). We need to make temporaries.
Me: I’m not going through this process again if it can’t be done right. (At this point, I’m so pissed, I’m either going to beat the shit out of her or cry, so my voice begins to waver)
Dentist: Then you tell me what to do.
Me: I want someone to come in here and polish the backs of the crowns (Major voice cracking at this point).
And she storms out. And I lose my shit.
Suddenly, one of the assistants who has worked at the practice forever comes in and says to me “Are you ok?” I can’t even talk. Then she’s whispering “We don’t have to do anything. You can leave. You shouldn’t be this upset. I’ll do whatever you want but you shouldn’t be this upset.”
I just start spewing and crying at the same time. I tell her I want my money back. That I don’t want them touching my mouth. Then I remember that my tongue is killing me from the backs of the crown and tell her that I want them polished and I’m leaving. So she tells me she’ll be right back.
Then she comes back and says “I’ve called Mrs.__________ (she’s the dead dentist’s wife who still owns the practice) and she’s on her way here to talk to you. I’m going to take you to a private room.” (Great…are you gonna get me a straight jacket, too?). I stand up and turn around and the entire office staff is staring at me. Then they ran away. And the Lupus diagnosing dentist stormed past me.
I don’t want to drag this out too much longer but I get a special audience with the Pope, who asks if I’m willing to have her son do the work and she will still see about reimbursing me any out of pocket expenses I’ve incurred. After a lengthy discussion, I agree to give them one last shot with a different type of crown and special accommodations (including a straight jacket). A dental assistant is whisked into my private room and attempts to polish the crowns. Which still aren’t polished correctly. And I roll out the door with the personal cell phone number of the Pope and a dry mouth.
On a side note, I did call my doctor to let him know that the dentist diagnosed me with Lupus and that I should probably come in.