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Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Truck Driver and the Periodontist

Having spent almost 35 years driving trucks, I've had to work at keeping up with with my dental hygiene.

That has not been easy as I was lazy during my adolescent years and had to have the good work of a Milwaukee dentist in the 1970's to cosmetically repair my teeth. My mom babysat his kids while he was in dental school and gave a substantial discount for my family after he established his practice. I was out living on my own, the cost was a wake up call to me, and afterwards, I improved my brushing and cleaning habits considerably.

As all over the road drivers know, it's hard to brush and floss regularly on the road and you have to make time for it if you want to keep your teeth.

After I was well into my 40's the regular dental office I was going to in Salt Lake City told me that I was developing some issues with my gums that a regular dental hygienist could not address with cleaning (gingivitis). They did not have a periodontist in house that would take my insurance, so they recommended another to me.

After an initial consultation, the periodontist  told me that if I got the issues resolved with my gums, there was no reason that I shouldn't be able to keep my own teeth for the rest of my life. So I had some procedures done to repair and restore my gums, which was not inexpensive. After my first visit, the next appointment was with his dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning.

All turned out well with the treatments and after I completed them, I decided to stick with him and his hygienist for future preventive care and cleanings. Figuring, at my age, I had less worry about cavities and teeth and more about concerns with my gums and soft tissue. And that's what I have done for the last 15 or so years.

A couple days before my scheduled cleaning last month, the office called me to inform that they needed to change my appointment time on my scheduled day. The clerical guy said that their regular hygienist was no longer "with them" and that Dr. B***s himself would do my cleaning. That was fine with me and went over a couple days later at the new time.

The thought did cross my mind wondering how long has it been since he cleaned teeth, but, I figured that I would be getting a real periodontist to check on my mouth for the price of a hygienist's cleaning. Upon arriving, the male clerk led me to the office with the cleaning chair and the first question he asked is if I wanted gas? I thought "why the heck would I want gas for a simple cleaning?" and said no. That was my first clue.

The "clerk" then put the napkin around my neck and arranged the tools. In came Dr. B***s, who I hadn't seen in a long time because I hadn't had any problems and he said hello. As I sat in the chair, I noticed that the clerk did not leave the room and acted like he was going to assist the dentist. I thought that was strange as I never had two people give me a cleaning before. The dentist again asked if I wanted gas? "No", I said. He then said that he was going to apply a numbing solution to my gums with a Q-tip like thing and that's when I really began to worry. Afterwards, the clerk operated the suction device while the dentist began the cleaning.

What followed was the second most painful dental experience that I can ever remember having! I could tell he was not used to handling the cleaning tools and was not holding them like I was used to seeing. He was cutting deep into my gums and blood was spurting everywhere. The only thing I could remember that was worse was when I had my wisdom teeth pulled many decades ago. I'm sure I had such a grip on the armrests that my knuckles had to have been white. That 40 minutes or so was absolute torture and I was never so happy to get the heck out of there!

So unfortunately, it's time to say bye to Dr. B***s, as I will not go through that again. He's a really nice guy and a great periodontist, but that was ridiculous. Just so happens that Mary's nephew has gotten out of dental school and has started his career as a dentist for a firm not far from us, so I will change over to them for my next visit. My lesson learned!

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