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Adventures in the Dental Office

  /   Thursday June 15, 2017  

Not too many people will associate the dental office with adventure. Maybe that word isn’t quite the right one to describe it, but oh well, I’ll use it for now. I went to a different dentist than I had been going to for a checkup. I’ll refrain from mentioning names here. I had been to the dentist maybe seven or eight months earlier, and no cavities were found. Needles to say, I was a bit surprised to be told by this new dentist that I had eighteen teeth that needed at least a filling, or was I?

Well, maybe a bit surprised is accurate. For the record – no, I don’t believe that I need that much dental work. I believe the dentist believes it. He showed me these pictures from the digital camera and the x-ray showing how I had these bad places in my teeth. The thing that they didn’t seem to understand is that they can show me as many spots on pictures as they want, but this doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial to the tooth to drill it out and replace it with artificial stuff that will ultimately have to be redone later. Fillings don’t last a lifetime.

You see, this isn’t my first dental adventure of this sort. In 1998, my home town dentist told me that I had a couple of cavities that needed to be filled. I was away at pharmacy school and didn’t have time to get back home to have the work done. I made the mistake of going to a dentist near where I was in school only to be told that I had a whole bunch of cavities. Not only that, but the dentist told me that I had better get these done as soon as I can or they will get much worse. His near-threatening tone of voice should have convinced me to flee. I let him do maybe two or three. I shouldn’t have. I stopped letting him do these and went to another dentist in my home town, and was told that I needed only one filling.

I had similar incidents in 2003 and again in 2010. Granted, during both of those times I had waited way too long to go to the dentist. The one in 2010 wanted to do over $10,000 work of work in my mouth. Both of those times, I didn’t need or have nearly as much work done as those dentists said that I needed. I went somewhere else. If I truly needed all that work done, my entire jaw and maybe even my nose should have rotted off by now. I have more than my share of dental work in my mouth, but I still did a lot less than was originally suggested once I got a second opinion.

So, what’s the point of this story? I can make a couple of points here. First, if you get a dentist who tells you that you need a lot of work, it’s a good idea to seek another opinion before you get it done. There are dentists who seem to think that they need to fill anything that doesn’t look quite normal. Others are more conservative and question whether drilling it out will be of benefit to the tooth. There’s a good possibility that one of the “cavities” that I was told that I had in 1998 has never been filled to this day. If so, it definitely didn’t progress too much. I still have all of my teeth except for my wisdom teeth.

My second point concerns something that may be a little harder to explain to non-medical people. There are different opinions out there in any medical science about what does and does not need treatment and why or why not. Medicine is not the exact science that everyone wants it to be. Some problems will be diagnosed differently by different doctors.

It’s odd that, when I visit a dentist, a more conservative dentist normally understands why more aggressive dentists want to do more fillings. They will rarely disparage the more aggressive dentist. However, more aggressive dentists have never seemed to understand that there are more conservative dentists who may see reason not to do certain treatment. When I mentioned that I hadn’t been told I had cavities to the dentist I just saw, he couldn’t understand why they weren’t caught. I think I know why not, though, and I am a pharmacist, not a dentist.

Still, it’s not abnormal for one doctor to see a scan and think nothing of it and for another to choose to observe it for now. In my case, the past experience with my teeth and the supposed cavities told me that I don’t have dire need of fillings. I have the past history to justify that, and the dentist to whom I just went didn’t seem to understand that. Relying on that, I can come to a good conclusion of what to do, or, in this case, what not to do.

Category: News on My Life

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