34 years old and I had my very first fillings on Wednesday. First a little back story:
Up until I was somewhere in my teens I had been to the dentist every six months like a good person and had never had a single cavity or filling in my life. At some point, once I became more responsible for myself, I quit going to the dentist. For somewhere in the realm of 10 years or more, I did not go to the dentist for checkups. The only exception during that time was when my wisdom teeth started bothering me so I went to have them checked, and subsequently had them removed.
A few years ago, once I had a job with insurance, I started going again fearing that my many years of neglect might have left a disaster zone in my mouth. Luckily I found out that I had a bunch of very minor cavities but nothing big. I didn’t have the money to get them fixed (even with insurance paying a portion) so I put it off. And put it off.
Cut to several years later, I’m now living in Austin with a good job and insurance again. I figure I should probably bite the bullet, find me a regular dentist in my new home city and perhaps get some of the work done that’s been lingering for years. I send out an email at work asking for recommendations and decide to try the “Austin Dental Spa” I’m pretty sure they’re going to be more expensive than other dentists, but I figure if I have to do something I don’t want to do, I might as well make it as pleasant as possible, even if it costs a little more. I’m glad I did. The offices are really nice with a really pleasant atmosphere and the staff are all very friendly and helpful. They give you a little bottle of water when you come in and have a nice private bathroom and a little alcove with a couple of sinks where you can brush and floss before you appointment with some disposable brushes which produce their own toothpaste when you get them wet and start brushing. They also have a masseuse who comes around and gives you a hand/arm massage while you’re in the chair.
I went and had an examination, and of course my teeth and gums weren’t in great shape after having been once again neglected for several years, but nothing was dire. I came back in for a cleaning, and got some special rinse to help with my poor neglected gums. I had about 8-10 teeth which had some degree of cavities, but much to my surprise, none of them were very bad at all. I was given the option of having them all done at once, or doing two visits with half my mouth being done on each visit. I chose that option thinking that would be better since I wouldn’t end up with my entire face numb and being in the chair for three hours.
They also have cool flat computer monitors over the chair which serve various purposes. When they took my x-rays and digital pictures of my mouth, they were displayed on the monitor so I could see what was going on and they could explain and discuss exactly what was up with my teeth. They also showed me some videos on brushing and flossing and fillings since I’d never had any before.
Last Wednesday I had the left half of my face done. I was a bit nervous (as I always am before any kind of medical or dental procedure) but as has always turned out to be the case for me, the actual event was nothing at all. Before they began they asked if I wanted Nitrous (laughing gas), and being a little nervous and having never tried it, I said “sure!” I can’t say I really noticed any effects from it though. If it did have effects, they were very subtle. So much so, that I wasn’t really sure if I was feeling any effects at all. The only time I remember definitely noticing anything was when they were done and they sat me up and I felt really light headed for about a minute or two.
I had five teeth filled on my left side. At first the dentist said my cavities were so shallow that she didn’t think I needed any anesthetic, but that she would gladly administer it if I wanted. I said that if she didn’t think I needed it we could try without (if I could get away without that annoying numb face factor then I was all for it), and she said that if I felt anything at all, just say so and we would do the whole numbing thing. At one pint I kind of winced, but to be honest, I’m not even sure if it was actual “pain” or just the pressure and coldness from the constant water rinse they spray while drilling. Just to be safe she went ahead and numbed me up, even though I would have been willing to try a little longer since, as I said, I hadn’t really felt anything “hurt” as of yet.
I always hear that the shots are the only part of fillings that may kind of sting for a second, but my dentist rocked. I didn’t feel a thing, even as she was administering the shots.
About an hour and a half later, I had five new fillings and went back to work feeling like I only had half a face since the other half felt like a big slab of fake rubber just attached to my head. I took great joy that it allowed me to do a really great Eddie Money impression.
In hindsight I do wish I had just done them all at once though and just got it all done with. Now I have to go back in a month for the other half which is more of a pain with the travel time, waiting in the lobby, etc. It would have been better to just spend extra time in the chair while I was there. All in all, as usual my dread leading up to the event was far worse than the actual event which was nothing at all.