February 09, 2017

How to survive your dentist visit Part 2

After my last visit to the dentist three or so days ago, I thought I'd need more time to process the news of two cavities and the overall condition of my teeth not being so great.. and having to resort to the inhalation of nitrous oxide to get through a simple dental cleaning.
I got over it, no major traumas and self-preservation kicked in: I do still like to keep my teeth and look after them. Email the dentist, try to recall the email, which failed and then I was still hoping that he would not be at the clinic today. Next thing I know: he replies and says c'mon in. Seriously? The whole cycle of anger, bargaining, sadness, acceptance and finally "ok, I'll go then", but not before researching every possible website of inhalation sedation, dental phobia, pain etc. Then I came across this website:
Some of the stories about nitrous oxide were not just informative, but entertaining too, that I was encouraged to just go ahead and try it once more.

My blood pressure was 150/90 so I was undeniably anxious. As I was sitting in the lobby, I thought I could still walk out, but as I was thinking about it, the dental nurse  was suddenly standing next to me (oh I bet you never thought you'd see me here again) and I no choice.. Sure, I could have made my excuses and left, but it would have been way too embarrassing.
I'll spare you from the details of what happened in the restroom. I already mentioned what the anxiety did to my BP. The same as it always does (madam, do you suffer from hypertension?)...

...and then, because it is easier to explain everything in order as it happened, here goes:

1. A chat with the dentist, whilst plotting the best escape route. He explains what he is planning to do.
2. Before I know it, I am sitting on the chair and can't escape. I look at the tray of the dental instruments, but can't figure out what each of them are used for.
3. They start administering the gas/oxygen mix via nasal mask. It feels weird at first, but then I get the "taste" of the gas and feel a lot more relaxed. I don't necessarily need to escape.
4. More gas.
5. And more. My legs feel heavy, I stop clenching my jaws and relax my grip of the dental chair armrests.
6. Anesthetic gel goes on and what else, I feel nothing.
7. Next moment the dentist says we will start drilling- but no wait, I'm still conscious and he has yet to give me the dreaded injection. He shows me the empty syringe and proves me wrong: he already gave it.
8. More gas please. Drilling goes ok, it just sounds funny. The drill is not a power tool, not the one they use in drilling oil or that Black&Decker you use in some DIY stuff at home.
9. At any time, I didn't feel like choking or drowning or being unable to swallow. I didn't taste blood or any other weird stuff. The local anesthetic gel  tasted something nice though: strawberry, raspberry, cherry... I'm not sure, but the effect of the taste made me see "red" shapes, which I think resembled Valentine's Day gifts and hearts.
10. Once the drilling was over, then they filled the cavity with a filling and some medication, because the cavity was quite large. Not the largest the dentist had seen, I asked him about it afterward.
11. At some stage- after drilling I think, they discontinued the gas and just let me breathe oxygen for a while. I was actually ok,  felt myself tensing up at times, but I was still feeling okay.
12. The dentist always asked me from time to time if I'm okay and let me clean my mouth with Kleenex. The dental nurse gave me a towel to hold, kind of for comfort you know, and it worked.
13. I'm not quite sure of what happened next- I kept hearing the dentist telling me multiple times "nearly done". At that time I started feeling I could leave.. soon.
14. Then it was all over: I got to rinse my mouth. I felt a bit dizzy, but the chair was elevated quite slowly so I managed to adjust. My mouth felt like rubber as if I was wearing a clown mask or something. It was almost impossible to speak at first.
15. I recalled some fun bits and pieces I had said inbetween the local anesthetic, drilling and all: "are you worried I'm going to bite your fingers off?" (to the dentist).
"I gave the local" to which I replied "show me the syringe". When he did, I said something along the lines "oh s**t, really, lol".
After he had indeed given the local,  he had said "you are doing very well, you won't need a general anesthetic" and me not realizing that he had had the Lidocaine syringe+needle in my mouth all this time.
16. Now almost 3.5 hours later I'm at home, eating ice cream, thankful I survived without pain and further embarrassment. The numbness and rubbery feeling have almost gone. I don't know what the new improved tooth feels like- I'm afraid to look or even touch it. I don't think there's any need to look at it at this stage.
17. Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of N2O. One of my favorite gases for sure.
18. The next step is to find a dentist, who can remove the remaining wisdom teeth under heavy IV sedation or general anesthesia.
In all honesty, I didn't expect anything to be wrong with my teeth and I got a shock of my life when I learned about the cavities. Almost at 40 I've never had cavities! No fillings, nothing. Anyway now I know better- there are always dentists and other healthcare professionals who treat their patients with respect and listen to you, help you to overcome your fears so you can get this done.
I came across this dentist in Facebook, where someone had posted an introductory video of him. I thought it might be a good idea to see a dentist, especially because I had missed my previous appointment in 2016 and because I knew I would have to get a thorough cleaning done. Now I'm glad I went.

Apparently after the radioactive iodine treatment, something changed and my mouth became dry, exposing my teeth to dental caries, higher risk of cavities etc so yes, I should have been more careful.

It's never ever going to be a walk in the park, visiting your dentist, but at least the "event" can be broken down into a manageable pieces and it can be done and we all survive somehow. If I can do it, anyone can.

If you are ever in Dubai needing dental treatment, see Dr David: http://valiantclinic.com/ourphysicians/dr-david-donelson/


1 comment:

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