Monday, June 29, 2009

Dental medicine sucks!

On June 16th I went to Wheatland Dental for a checkup. It had been two and a half or so years since I had been, so I wasn't surprised when I was told I needed another deep cleaning/scaling and that I had 4 cavities that needed to be filled. At that visit the hygienist said that one cavity was pretty deep -she showed it to me on the xray and she said there was a possibility that that tooth would need a root canal. After meeting the dentist who just briefly went over what the hygienist already told me, I moved on to scheduling to set up two more appointments for cleaning and cavity fills. After the appointments were set up, I was told that they'd call my insurance to check my coverage for me and give me a call wit the results. Soon after I arrived home, I got that call and was given the estimated cost of the cleaning and cavity fills. I was very happy that they were willing to do that for me because, not knowing the codes, it's hard for me to get precise information on coverage and costs.

So, at my second appointment I was expecting 3 cavity fills and root planing/scaling. After the dentist started on the first cavity I heard her say "Uh-oh, I accessed the pulp of the tooth. You're going to need a root canal on this one, so I'm going to go ahead and remove the nerves from this tooth. Then she grabbed a much bigger drill bit and got to work. At the end of the visit I was told that she only started the root canal and that I'd need to see a specialist to get it completed. I was urged to make the appointmen "soon" and told that there may be a little discomfort in the tooth, but as long as it wasn't a pulsing pain it should be able to be taken care of with some ibuprofen. After the novacaine wore off there was no pain at all. I was happy and wondered what all the fuss over root canals was about.

About a week later I had my second appointment for the other half of the root planing/scaling and one more cavity fill. The first thing the doctor asked me was whether I had scheduled the rest of the root canal work or not. I told her I had not and that I was waiting until the other side was done in case there was another one. Then I asked her how soon it should be done. -I was under the impression after the first visit that the issue in waiting would be the temporary filling material. So, I asked her this time -like, if my insurance is tapped out for this year, can I wait until January? She said something like "I wouldn't wait that long, you should get it done as soon as you can." ...being numb and unwilling to talk while drooling out the side of my mouth, I left it at that and went home.

On Friday night (June 26th, 10 days after the partial root canal) I had a little tenderness in the that tooth, but by morning it went away. The next day was similar, a little discomfort at night, so I figured by morning it'd be okay again. But, on Sunday morning I woke up early with pretty bad dull pain in that tooth. When I bit down, though, lightningbolts of pain shot through the tooth -it was overwhelming pain. Right up there with the pain I felt when I broke my arm. Aside from that it's the worst pain I've ever felt. But, being Sunday, I stuck it out. I ate nothing but pasta and swallowed most of it whole because chewing was slow, difficult, and one wrong move and there was the sharp shooting pain again. But, I kept my hopes up that it'd be over Monday morning as soon as the dentist office was open again.

Sunday night I took a sleeping pill to try to get some rest. I woke in the morning around 6am with pain and started the countdown to 8am when I might get some relief. While waiting I called Wheatland Dental and left a message to get my name in ASAP in case it'd get me in a little sooner. At 8:15am Wheatland called and told me that I was in pain because I hadn't gotten the root canal finished like I was told to and there was nothing they could do -I needed to call the Endodontist. After letting them know about how I felt about them drilling my tooth out and then shoving me out the door, I hung up to call my insurance company.

It turns out neither Endodontist they referred me to is covered, but I found one that was that could get me in today and hopefully by 11:30am I'll be out of pain. What makes me really angry about this is the lack of involvement in my own dental care. I don't understand why I couldn't be told what to expect before the tooth was ever touched. At that point it didn't hurt! At that point I probably could have waited 6 months, if necessary, so I had enough benefits to cover the expensive proceedure. But I wasn't asked -I was TOLD, and even then only after the pulp of the tooth had been accessed and nothing could else could be done!

Dentists -do you really wonder why you get a bad wrap? When this is the service we get? To be drilled out and pushed out the door to be someone else's problem with no idea what to expect, what timeframe the rest of the proceedure needed to be done in, and no idea that the consequence for not making the appointment in less than 2 weeks would be intense pain? This is not caring treatment -it's not even HUMANE if you ask me!